Monday, October 1, 2007
No monograph from the Army War College (ie. the guys who have really, really, really studied the subject) would be complete without making mention, at least implicitly, of just how ill-conceived the Bush administration's Iraq adventure really was. This one comes in the form of a passage emphasizing the importance of identifying precise strategic goals before initiating any hostilities, something known as "end-state planning":
...The end-state planning argument concludes that if the United Nations or the United States or any other international player is going to succeed in future conflicts, civil and military forces must be structured and employed in ways that respond to the dynamic political, economic, social, as well as military variables at work in the stability-peace paradigm. And, as logic and experience demand, the interagency community must base its decisions on a clear, mutually agreed definition of what ultimate success looks like—that is, share a vision of strategic clarity.
Attempts to achieve political and strategic objectives cannot be based on the ad hoc use of national and international instruments of power. Without organizations that can establish, enforce, and continually define a holistic plan and generate consistent national and international support, authority is fragmented and ineffective in resolving the myriad problems endemic to survival in contemporary conflict—and thus, operations can become increasingly incoherent. Requiring a high level of planning and coordination is not a matter of putting the cart before the horse. It is a matter of knowing where the horse is going and precisely how it is going to get there. Decisionmakers, policymakers, and planners should never lose sight of that bigger unity of effort picture. (pp.45-46)
Even now, four years down the road, in all the discussion about the Iraq War, that's still something I don't see much of: Knowing where the horse is going and precisely how it is going to get there.