Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tactical vs. strategic thinking

Those interested in military issues may find this piece by Peter Mansoor (in the Jan./Feb. Foreign Affairs) worth reading.

Not directly related but of possible interest: Gates's speech to West Point cadets; link here.

6 comments:

hank_F_M said...

LFC

Good articles.

What Mansoor is not picking up on is the relation between the civilian and military leadership. Which I think greatly effects the two schools of strategic culture he is discussing.

Not sure of all his answers but Gates is asking the right questions.

Sort of related from my blog. Read the end first.
War Termination
Military Culture Wars

LFC said...

Yes, Mansoor might have worked civil-military relations into the piece.

Also, even within the constraints of this review-essay, he might have mentioned that the failings of the initial Iraq campaign were not due solely to the military's "dearth of strategic thinking" (p.168 in hard-copy version) but were also a result of civilian decisions at high levels in the Pentagon.

LFC said...

Indeed, in the Rumsfeld-Shinseki disagreement, mentioned at the end of one of your linked posts, it was Shinseki who came much closer to getting it right, no?

hank_F_M said...

LFC

Shinseki would never have been listed as more than a soso Chief of Staff even if there had not been a war. Tempermentally he was not the person to stand up successfully to Sec Rumsfeld, but he was right. I once had the same data, but some time after I went to the retired reserve I through away bunch of old manuals.

hank_F_M said...

A little note. Colonel Mansoor is wrong on an item. The Army did, and still does, maintain the type of capability to have handled much of the problem he was talking about. The reserve units that are trained to provide this kind of support were not called up. To take a famous incident, suppose a platoon of MP’s posted itself around the National Museum to prevent looting and a Civil Affairs Officer, who in his civilian job is a museum curator, walks up to the front door and says “How can I help you?” By the book a Civil Affairs brigade should have gone into Baghdad breathing the fumes of the tanks and taken over the the administration based on a plan they had prepared in well in advance. My hat is off to the combat people who had to learn on the job how do something they shouldn’t of had to do.

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