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Monday, April 19, 2004

Another Critical Army War College Study

In December 2003, a study "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism," by Jeffrey Record, a Visiting Research Professor at the Army War College, received a great deal of press attention because it was fairly critical of the Bush administration's war on terror. Record was at the Army's Strategic Studies Institute when he released his report -- and this is essentially the US Army's think tank.

Record concluded that "the war on terrorism--as opposed to the campaign against al-Qaeda--lacks strategic clarity, embraces unrealistic objectives, and may not be sustainable over the long haul." He called "for downsizing the scope of the war on terrorism to reflect concrete U.S. security interests and the limits of American military power."

Potent stuff. The blog world noticed, of course.

Last week, another study "Toward an American Way of War," by Antulio J. Echevarria II gained a great deal of international publicity. While Echevarria's tone seems more measured, at least in its summary form, his study too is being framed by the global media as quite critical of the administration's war on terror.

And it is fairly critical. The author calls for some "fundamental rethinking" of "the practical resources necessary to translate military victory into strategic success." Echevarria criticizes the US for trying to change Iraq's regime "quickly and on the cheap."

Here's how Reuter's covered the study, which reflects the author's views and not those of the War College or the Department of Defense:
The Bush administration went to war in Iraq with a flawed strategy that sought victory "on the cheap" and is now paying the price in the form of a growing insurgency and doubts about its goal of building a democracy, a top U.S. Army analyst says in a recent report.

Lieutenant Colonel Antulio Echevarria, director of national security affairs at the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, said Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other administration officials rejected as "old think" early calls for more troops from senior commanders.

Instead, the administration hoped to address any military and financial shortfalls in Iraq through anticipated support from NATO and the United Nations.

"It low-balled the total number of U.S. troops and other personnel that might have to be put in harm's way to get the job done, and how long they might have to remain," Echevarria said in the report titled, "Toward an American Way of War."

Echevarria said the administration's Iraq strategy was flawed because its goal of regime change in Iraq required a labour- and time-intensive effort. But the administration instead wanted "to win the war quickly and on the cheap."

"While this emerging way of war looked to employ new concepts, such as shock and awe and effects-based operations, designed to win battles quickly, it had no new concept for accomplishing the time-intensive and labour-intensive tasks of regime change more quickly and with less labour," his report concluded.
Funny, I thought Rumsfeld recognized the war would be a "long, hard slog."

This study is getting a lot of attention around the world. I used and discovered hits in Pakistan, Bahrain, Iran, South Africa, India, Canada, and the UK. covered it too. Most seem to use the Reuters story I quoted.

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