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A Culture of Punitive Raiding


Robert Haddick agrees with me, albeit with greater eloquence and length ( hat tip to Colonel Dave).

From SWJ Blog:

This Week at War: Rumsfeld’s Revenge

….Rumsfeld’s and Schoomaker’s redesign of the Army into a lighter, more mobile, and more expeditionary force seems permanent. Gone is the Cold War and Desert Storm concept of the long buildup of armor as prelude to a massive decisive battle. Instead, globally mobile brigade combat teams will provide deterrence, respond to crises, and sustain expeditionary campaigns. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the current Army chief of staff (and soon to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) recently described a sustainable brigade rotation system, an expeditionary adaptation that the Navy and Marine Corps have employed for decades. In addition, both the Army and Marine Corps have drawn up plans to shrink their headcounts back near the Rumsfeld-era levels. Rumsfeld’s concerns about personnel costs sapping modernization are now coming to pass.

There now seems to be a near-consensus inside Washington that the large open-ended ground campaigns that Rumsfeld resisted are no longer sustainable. The former defense secretary’s preference for special operations forces, air power, networked intelligence, and indigenous allies is now back in vogue. Even Gen. David Petraeus, who burnished his reputation by reversing Rumsfeld’s policies in Iraq, will now implement Rumsfeld’s doctrine in eastern Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, the U.S. will counter the deteriorating situation there not by shifting in conventional ground troops for pacification, but with “more special forces, intelligence, surveillance, air power … [and] substantially more Afghan boots on the ground.”

While we agree that this is “Rumsfeld’s revenge”, unlike Haddick, I would not choose “doctrine” to describe it. This is really about a “Community of Operators” across services , agencies and their White House superiors adopting a culture of punitive raiding for at least the medium term. A doctrine might come along later but there are downsides to institutionalizing punitive raiding that have already been very well expressed by others (see comments section at SWJ). I’d prefer punitive raiding remain a flexible tool rather than a reflexive response ( it might help if we created a “Community of Thinkers” before we get too comfortable as an international flying squad).

At this point, I will stop and recommend a fine piece by Adam Elkus on the subject of punitive raiding, From Roman Legions to Navy SEALs: Military Raiding and its Discontents. A good primer on the history, implications and drawbacks.

Why is this happening?  Economics and the subsequent electoral politics of a finance-sector driven global depression. The same thing that brought COIN to an end and then finally killed it as an operationally oriented policy.

Punitive raiding is relatively cheaper. It permits defense cuts in the size of the Army and Marine Corps that are badly desired by the administration and Congress. It preserves and justifies investments in naval and air striking power that will bring joy to the Lexington Institute and satisfy many MoC concerned about defense jobs for constituents. On a point of genuine importance, this also hedges against near peer competitors (ahem…cough…China).

Is it a done deal? Unless the economy roars back, yes.


Check out these two directly related posts by Pundita and Joseph Fouche:

America’s Light Footprint Era (Revised) 

Unhappy Medium: The Perils of Annoyance as Your Strategic Default

2 Responses to “A Culture of Punitive Raiding”

  1. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » A Culture of Punitive Raiding Says:

    […] [cross-posted at zenpundit.com] […]

  2. La guerra despu?s de Afganist?n e Iraq « Guerras Posmodernas Says:

    […] la nueva visi?n coincide con lo que Donald Rumsfeld propon?a en su momento y se dice que es esta su venganza. Demostrarse que ten?a raz?n. Si tan solo fuera por su legado de cenizas en Iraq… July […]

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