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Thread: US mulls dropping two-war doctrine

  1. #1
    Ray
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    US mulls dropping two-war doctrine

    US mulls dropping two-war doctrine


    ALEC RUSSELL
    US troops on patrol in Baghdad. (Reuters)

    Washington, July 6: The Pentagon, stretched by the war in Iraq, is considering dropping a linchpin of American military strategy, the doctrine that requires it to be prepared to fight two major wars at the same time.

    Since the end of the Cold War the need to be able to fight two “near-simultaneous” wars in different theatres has dominated military thinking, with Iraq and North Korea seen as the most likely battlefields. Now, with military resources under increasing strain from commitments in Iraq, the Pentagon is considering a new doctrine to take into account the post-September 11 world.

    The mission in Iraq has overturned previous military thinking. While it is not officially seen as a “war” it has clearly taken one of the slots from the two-war doctrine, as it continues to absorb the manpower required for a medium-sized war.

    Officials said yesterday that among the options for the quadrennial defence review, due early next year, was preparing the military to fight just one major war while setting aside more resources for fighting terrorism and defending the homeland.

    Ryan Henry, the principal deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, suggested the “two-war doctrine” may be near the end of its shelf life. The two-war doctrine was born out of the rubble of the Pentagon’s Cold War strategy, which for 40 years had envisaged the Third World War being fought on the plains of Germany.

    It was formalised in the wake of the 1991 Gulf war, when the first President George Bush and then his successor, Bill Clinton, were slashing military budgets and the Pentagon saw it as a way of setting a limit to the cuts.

    Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, has long promoted an overhaul of military thinking and, when he came to office in 2000, floated the idea that the two-war strategy was on its way out.

    But it survived the previous review.

    Now, as officials put the finishing touches to the next review, planners appear to concede not just that the strategy may be outdated but also, more controversially, that they may not have enough soldiers to fight two wars.

    “We’ve come to the realisation that we’re not [able to fight two wars at the same time]”, one Pentagon official told the New York Times. “It’s coming to grips with reality.”

    The current strategy is known in the Pentagon as “one four two one”. The figures refer to: the defence of the homeland; the ability to deter attacks in four separate areas of the world; the ability to defeat two adversaries in wars; and the ability to defeat one of those latter two so comprehensively that its capital is captured and government overthrown.

    Officially, “major combat operations” in Iraq ended in May 2003 when officials predicted a reduction in US manpower to 30,000 by the end of the year.

    But, more than two years later, there are still 138,000 US troops in Iraq, only 13,000 fewer than at the time of the fall of Baghdad.

    Tom Donnelly, a military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank and author of The Military We Need, said: “The two-war construct has been disavowed by this Pentagon for quite some time. And you can see from their budgetary behaviour that they are not going to be expanding the size of anything really.”
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    Appears to be a pragmatic decision.

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    Two wars?

    The biggest difficulty for the US appears to be one of efficiant force projection.

    The USAF have successfully lobbied for buggetary pref.

    The idea ( very attractive politicaly ) being that as per Gulf 1+2 air power can deliver both tactical and strategic domination without bodybags.

    I have a lot of sympathy for a Hi-Tech war solution. THAT is applicable almost exclusively to total confrontation. Which is what multiple fleet etc. is dedicated to.

    With the rise of so-called asymetric war, instabilities may occur, fluctuate, explode and one hopes evaporate within previously unplanned for time-scales.

    Her Majesty's American colony should be looking not simply at some sort of "win the war on terrorism" or "win the war on drugs" (as if the two were at all different) or can we contain China, or will the EU become an emergent threat, or will Russia play nice, or good grief do we have to deploy troops in Iraq AND Iran ...

    What, in my poorly considered view, my colonial brethran should undertake is stop inter-agency *****ing and realise that the silly sods might make a lot more progress by building up the fleet, joining the Russians in orbit (before China) and strenghtening NATO. And petition The British Gov. to stop ****ing up our forces so that we can train Yanks in the only thing you all blow goats at:

    Holding bloody hostile ground.
    Where's the bloody gin? An army marches on its liver, not its ruddy stomach.

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    I have always felt that the peace dividend we cashed in after the Cold War during the Clinton years reduced the size of our armed forces too much. Anyone with half a brain understands that with half our armed forces, we could not fight two wars. Its about time the Pentagon woke up.

    We cut half the army's divisions, half the navy's warships, and half the air forces squadrons, who thought we could still fight two wars? Our defence spending went from $400 billion in FY 88 dollars, down to $270 billion in FY 96 dollars, and we have passed the $400 billion mark during FY 04 dollars, which is considerably less than FY 88 dollars.

    Its not so much fighting the wars, winning one offensively and playing defensive with another, but holding an occupation after a war wasn't a factor in our manpower strength. I have said from the beginning we should have given Iraq to Jordan's King Hussein instead of creating a democracy in the unfriendly Arab world. Jordan would have mopped up the opposition forces quickly.

    And finally, we still have too many of our forces based abroad in Europe and in Asia. We should bring all of our forces home, only sending them out for short training exercises abroad, and/or fight and win wars. Access to foreign bases is all we need, such as Diego Garcia, we really don't require Amerian bases unless its on American soil, such as Guam.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    A wise man said it best:

    "The peace dividend is peace, not freeing up money to spent on social programs."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Toby
    I have always felt that the peace dividend we cashed in after the Cold War during the Clinton years reduced the size of our armed forces too much. Anyone with half a brain understands that with half our armed forces, we could not fight two wars. Its about time the Pentagon woke up.
    Think you've misread. The Pentagon got around the 2 wars scenario by redefining war. During the Cold War, we had a two and a half war scenario. We were to fight the USSR in the West and East and another holding action (most likely Korea) somewhere else.

    The Kuwait, Kosovo, and Iraq Wars are half wars by Cold War standards. So, yes, in theory, we could fight two half wars with half the Cold War forces.
    Chimo

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    Personally I'm not so sure that the "Two Wars" doctrine is unfeasable given our current levels of manpower. This plays into the difference between "nation building" and "war fighting." Our problem in Iraq is that we have our troops there for a number of years, and we are relying largely on reservists and National Guardsmen for what really should be a regular army job (those parts of the service really are for fighting wars, not extended deployments "nation building"). After we smashed Iraq, we made the error of trying to rebuild it. Building a nation is far more difficult than smashing it.

    Far easier to simply have left and let them fight it out amongst themselves. We owe the Iraqi's nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lwarmonger
    Far easier to simply have left and let them fight it out amongst themselves. We owe the Iraqi's nothing.
    Not the Iraqis, us. It doesn't make sense to kill your enemy only to let him rebuild.
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers
    Not the Iraqis, us. It doesn't make sense to kill your enemy only to let him rebuild.
    That is true sir, assuming that rebuilding is what they would be doing. As things stand, we are not only helping them rebuild, but enforcing a measure of stability while it is happening. A multi-cornered civil war in which we support one (or more) of the factions would not be a particularly significant threat to the United States (hard to rebuild when various ethnic and religious groups keep trying to exterminate one another). Far cheaper in terms of men and materials for us as well.

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    Like the Afghan Mujahadeen?
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers
    Like the Afghan Mujahadeen?
    Well sir, would occupying Afghanistan have been the answer? Our failure there was to forget that it existed, not in failing to try and enter it. The Soviets weren't happy with the way that turned out for them, and I doubt that in the 1980's we would have done much better (even now, the amount of "nation building" that we are doing in Afghanistan is at a minimum... and one could make the argument that we are only backing our "side" in the current conflict for control of the country).

    We aren't going to get benefits commensurate to the cost from staying in Iraq because the people there aren't going to like us no matter what we do. The Germans hated and feared the Russians after WWII, so they were more than happy to become our friends. The Japanese knew that everyone wanted their blood after WWII and that we were going to ensure that retribution didn't come to them (they knew what they had done to Asia... and the United States). The Iraqis have no such fear or hate.

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    Our failure was that we lost control of the situation. We had a proxy, the Pakistanis controlling the situation and they ran off doing their crazy experiments that resulted in the Taliban, Al Qeida, and finally 11 Sept.

    The Iraqis may not like us and may even hate us but we're controlling the situation right now and we're building upon that. The US may or may not control Iraq forever but she is trying to ensure that she will not again lose control of the situation in Iraq ever again.
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers
    The Iraqis may not like us and may even hate us but we're controlling the situation right now and we're building upon that. The US may or may not control Iraq forever but she is trying to ensure that she will not again lose control of the situation in Iraq ever again.
    Sir,

    I think that your position might be counter-intuitive.

    1. The military and political history of Iraq is supported by primary source material back to the late Chacolithic era with archaelogical evidence of military activity stretching into the misty twilight just before the dawn of civilization. Broadly speaking, study of such things reveals:

    a. the area has traditionally been hotly contested. One might even nominate the area of the Iraq-Iran border as the most hotly contested piece of real estate in human history;

    b. based on the available documentation, it is probably fair to say that the area we call Iraq has been difficult hold, defend and exploit when we consider the lengthy catalog of campaigns available for study;

    c. Iraq pretty much defines the word "mantrap".

    If you break out your entrenching tool and turn some earth in Iraq, you can find the bones of Tommy.

    Turn your spade again and you can find those of Janissaries...Legionaires...Hoplites...legendary Parthian archers...and keep going until you come to the remains of the lightly armored, mobile formations which waged the war between Umma and Lagash.

    And what were Umma and Lagash warring over? Control of the natural resources of the Euphrates valley but I digress...

    Occupation of the Plains of Shinar tends towards leaving the occupier strategically unbalanced.

    2. The United States has a dismal track record when it comes to nation building.

    For purposes of argument, the United States has attempted nation building twenty times over the last hundred and few odd years.

    Some attempts have been quite successful such as Germany and Japan.

    Some reasonably fair like the Phillipines.

    Many, unfortunately, did not come out to well: Haiti, Somolia, et. al.

    Like it or not, the judgement of history puts nation building success in Iraq at 4:1 against.

    Based on objective, historical tendancies, it is quite likely that events in Iraq will control us, not us them (but to what extent is hard to say and failure in Iraq does not neccessarily translate into failure of broader U.S. policy, arguably).

    Regards,

    William
    Pharoh was pimp but now he is dead. What are you going to do today?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers
    The Iraqis may not like us and may even hate us but we're controlling the situation right now and we're building upon that. The US may or may not control Iraq forever but she is trying to ensure that she will not again lose control of the situation in Iraq ever again.
    I understand that sir, I'm just pretty sure that a democratically elected Theocracy isn't the way to go about keeping control of events in Iraq over the long term. However, given the manner in which we have presented the war to the world as a whole, I don't really see any way out of that occurance short of sheer luck or a withdrawal (which is what most of the world has wanted all along) and then support of the faction most favorable to us (the Kurds) in the resulting civil war (public opinion doesn't seem to comprehend that our withdrawal would not be good for the Iraqi people).

    Honestly sir I think that American national interest would probably be better served by a divided and war torn Iraq than a United Islamic Republic (albiet a freely elected one). Given what the Muslim world has shown us I don't really think that Islamic civilization is really that compatible with a liberal secular democracy.

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    long story short?

    Where better to have a huge force beholden unto ... the US. Right 'twixt Isreal and Iran.

    Give the Yanks credit.
    Where's the bloody gin? An army marches on its liver, not its ruddy stomach.

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