Analysis of a Decade at War

On 15 June, the Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis division of the Joint Staff J-7 published a report titled, "A Decade at War."  This report came in response to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Dempsey's guidance that we should make sure we "actually learn the lessons from the last decade at war."  The report can be downloaded in PDF format here.  An excerpt follows:

 

In the decade following 9/11, it became evident that the Cold War model that had guided foreign policy for the previous 50 years no longer fit the emerging global environment. Key changes included: 

  • A shift from US hegemony toward national pluralism 
  • The erosion of sovereignty and the impact of weak states 
  • The empowerment of small groups or individuals 
  • An increasing need to fight and win in the information domain 

In the midst of these changes, the US employed its military in a wide range of operations to address perceived threats from both nation-state and terrorist groups; to strengthen partner nation militaries; to conduct humanitarian assistance operations; and to provide defense support of civil authorities in catastrophic incidents such as Hurricane Katrina. This wide range of operations aimed to promote and protect national interests in the changing global environment. 

In general, operations during the first half of the decade were often marked by numerous missteps and challenges as the US government and military applied a strategy and force suited for a different threat and environment. Operations in the second half of the decade often featured successful adaptation to overcome these challenges. From its study of these operations, JCOA identified overarching, enduring lessons for the joint force that present opportunities for the US to learn and improve, best practices that the US can sustain, and emerging risk factors that the US should address. 

The report broke down lessons into eleven strategic themes, analyzing each one in brief and providing a way ahead on each.  These were:

 

  • Understanding the Environment: A failure to recognize, acknowledge, and accurately define the operational environment led to a mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions, and goals. 
  • Conventional Warfare Paradigm: Conventional warfare approaches often were ineffective when applied to operations other than major combat, forcing leaders to realign the ways and means of achieving effects. 
  • Battle for the Narrative: The US was slow to recognize the importance of information and the battle for the narrative in achieving objectives at all levels; it was often ineffective in applying and aligning the narrative to goals and desired end states. 
  • Transitions: Failure to adequately plan and resource strategic and operational transitions endangered accomplishment of the overall mission. 
  • Adaptation: Department of Defense (DOD) policies, doctrine, training and equipment were often poorly suited to operations other than major combat, forcing widespread and costly adaptation. 
  • Special Operations Forces (SOF) – General Purpose Forces (GPF) Integration: Multiple, simultaneous, large-scale operations executed in dynamic environments required the integration of general purpose and special operations forces, creating a force-multiplying effect for both. 
  • Interagency Coordination: Interagency coordination was uneven due to inconsistent participation in planning, training, and operations; policy gaps; resources; and differences in organizational culture. 
  • Coalition Operations: Establishing and sustaining coalition unity of effort was a challenge due to competing national interests, cultures, resources, and policies. 
  • Host-Nation Partnering: Partnering was a key enabler and force multiplier, and aided in host-nation capacity building. However, it was not always approached effectively nor adequately prioritized and resourced. 
  • State Use of Surrogates and Proxies: States sponsored and exploited surrogates and proxies to generate asymmetric challenges. 
  • Super-Empowered Threats: Individuals and small groups exploited globalized technology and information to expand influence and approach state-like disruptive capacity. 

 

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Tags : Afghanistan, analysis, coalition operations, COIN, general purpose force, GWOT, information operations, insurgency, interagency, Iraq, lessons learned, long war, MISO, SOF, strategy, threats

Comments

It was a very interesting read, but more so for what it says about the authors than about the lessons learned. Although I agree completely with several of them, more than a few lessons don't fit the bill. Lessons 4 & 5 seem more philosophical than practical, while lessons 7, 8, and 9 seem to have been included as a bow to political trends (little in 7, 8, and 9 is an absolutely necessary, universal, aspect of operations; they seem more properly the historical peculiarities of OIF and OEF). I do wonder if the senior staff see this as a valuable product or an information piece for broader consumption, and most importantly, how the mid- and junior officers respond to these themes.

More than anything this report sounds like it was written by a confused mind. Confused about what it wants to be vs. what it thinks reality is telling it should be vs. what it thinks others think it should be. Lesson Learned #1: Ask what should have been first; then ask what actually was; and only then ask what you can learn from it all.

Having finally read this Joint Studies Report, and not that it probably matter much, my opinion of its conclusions and content are anything but favorable. It reminds me of the never attempted, that I can recall, justification of the flawed military efforts we conducted during the Vietnam conflict. Efforts that were generally very costly and that failed to obtain strategic benefit for this nation of any positive value -- as is occurring in Afghanistan, so here is my opinion of this review of the US military's decade at war.

In the Forward to the Joint Forces Study, the writers noted, The initial step in turning these critical observations into “learned lessons, and that, This work will serve as an enabler to building a more responsive, versatile, and affordable force.

In its Introduction, the writers noted, “A national strategy that had focused on countering regional aggressors and sophisticated attacks using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was now [on 9/11/2001] confronted by an enemy that attacked the homeland with low technology in asymmetric and unexpected ways—individuals armed with box-cutters using hijacked civilian aircraft.

There are several major errors in the conclusory nature of this statement. First, the word “also” should have appeared between … was [also] now confronted by an enemy …. In addition, the word “potential” should have appeared between .… on countering [potential] regional aggressors. Also, given that Iran clearly is developing nuclear weapons and their accompanying delivery systems and will be allowed in all likelihood, at least by the current administration, to complete that effort any attempt to degrade our ongoing development of weapons systems intended for defense against such potential types of attack would be incredibly shortsighted and simply a dereliction of duty.

The writers then, in a self serving manner then note, “Operations in the second half of the decade often featured successful adaptation to overcome these challenges,” merely implying what challenges were successfully overcome. The US military challenge one would presume would have been the perceived need for it to successfully occupy both Iraq and Afghanistan, and in fact if one continues to read, that fascination with controlling given geographical areas using COIN style operations (actually tactics) is the underlying focus of the report. Despite a few ineffectual protestations otherwise, actually statements about the use of destructive force, the writers clearly believe that the mission of the US military has changed from fighting wars to population centric activities intended to provide a secure, peaceful, and a democratic environment in which the people of some foreign nation can safely live and prosper.

The writer(s) use the terms [strategic] goals and mission without describing what was the strategic goal assigned to the US military post 9/11. One would believe that it should have been to search out, locate, and destroy terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, regardless of where their operatives were located, while continuing to be prepared to face other strategic threats from then current and new regional players such as Iran, holding extreme anti-American and anti-Western views which they would express, if they can, via application of military force in a variety of conventional / nuclear methods and in various locations.

The objective of the military during a conflict (war) is first, foremost, and only to destroy a nation’s enemies. How many times do Generals and other officers have to learn that occupying territory is incredibly costly and not an effective means of destroying one’s enemy. Apparently, the lesson needs to be learned once again as occupation (stability operations?) is the focus of this report.

Contrarily to America’s generals repeating many the failed approaches of the US effort in Vietnam, our opponents such as the Taliban in Afghanistan have learned lessons from history. They only have to hope the US military suckers itself into conducting large scale nation building tasks which will drag on for years and cost the US some number of steady casualties, significant amounts of money, and hope as normally occurs, that the leadership opposing them (the so called insurgents) is inept. Insurgents learn to survive through defeats and hard times when facing a conventionally strong enemy. The leadership we put in place in some foreign land obtains no such real world learning or leadership fortitude because they can always rely on American firepower to save them. The insurgents know the Western nation such as the US will eventually become politically disgusted with a COIN style campaign since it takes so many year and become economically disgusted with the effort and withdraw.
None of this is recognized by the writers of this report, or they are attempting to push the blame for lengthy campaigns on the conventional oriented generals and officers from the pre-Petraeus era of deliverance – all the time forgetting that the military’s goal was to destroy Al Qaeda, not spending billions / trillions of our money depriving Al Qaeda of a home in one or more given countries. No nation has the funds for that type of effort and it is an incredibly dumb way to pursue one’s enemy. In fact, the Taliban are not our enemy, or if they were it was only for a short period of time—our enemy if Al Qaeda and other similarly objected organization.

As an alternative, this report should have been self critical and recognized that the US military was sent into Afghanistan to destroy the Al Qaeda forces there and to punish the Taliban for providing them a safe harbor, and to some extent achieved that mission. Many Al Qaeda operatives survived and along with the Taliban retreated into the NW territories of Pakistan.

Instead of attempting to occupy or control all of Afghanistan, or whatever one wants to entitle our effort there, why not have limited our presence to the Northern Alliance areas. Allow the Taliban back in if they wished to return. Let them know that if they harbored Al Qaeda again our B-52's would return even more brutally this time. The Taliban never attacked this country and unless they aid out enemies, they are not our enemy. We have defeated enemies in the past, driven them out of the enemy camp, and had effectively peaceful relationships with them, thereafter.

The Northern Alliance knows that the Taliban Pashtuns are going to try and overrun their area someday and would accept the presence of a few small American air bases and some Ranger, 10th Mountain Division, or Marine Corps battalions and some Special Forces and SOG forces in their area. Let them know we would use our forces to hunt down Al Qaeda from there via SOG ops, drones, etc. and support them if the Taliban tried to return. Given a US military presence, the Taliban wouldn't in all likelihood try to enter Northern Alliance areas. The neighboring States populated by the ethnic cousins of the Northern Alliance would welcome us helping their cousins -- as they do now. An inexpensive presence such as this is easy to maintain over a long term area, and it certainly would not include our building costly roads, power plants, or other infrastructure projects. There would be no need for that. Stationing 1,000 men in a comparatively secure area is one thing, stationing or allocating 120,000+ (Ground, air, and supporting navy) into an area of tribal conflict is another and far more costly effort that will provide nothing of long term strategic value to this country.

As retired USMC General Krulak noted in letter published by its receiver (George Will), we could also mount battalion sized raids out of that peripheral area if needed. If Al Qaeda returned to Afghanistan, so much the better. It would have alleviated our diplomatic problems with Pakistan and we could easily have turned the Pashtun area of Afghanistan into a killing zone. Using drones, and whatever else, isn't that what we are doing that in Pakistan?

That approach would focus on our goal of destroying Al Qaeda. After all, they are going to operate out of somewhere. Our strategic goal should not be area denial, in my opinion, but destroying Al Qaeda.

How much less costly would have been Gen. Krulak's military strategy rather than using the very costly Patreaus (sp?) COIN / Nation Building strategy and funding Kharzai's (sp?) bank account? Why do we care who runs Afghanistan and how they treat their people? A repairing the world strategy not only fails the common sense test, it bankrupts the trying country, i.e. the US. If I recall, the COIN doctrine manual content warns of its very costly nature and long term effort.

In Vietnam the strategic goals, operational objectives, and tactics (at least as far operations directly against the North were concerned) were forced on the US military. They were civilian decisions, not from the military. The sad part of Afghanistan is that the military strategy being employed which is incredibly costly, fails to further the goal of destroying Al Qaeda in any cost effect and meaningful way (considering scarce resources), and which will be soon abandoned originated from US military brass – whom are defending their failures in judgment study.

Just my thoughts, adopted in part from a Marine Corps General far more insightful about ground combat than myself and from the opinions of others not fans of COIN.

What the Pentagon should do, and will not, is put a together a team of anti-COIN officers to produce a contrary view of military operations during the last decade and allow them to criticize these conclusions. That is the only way to learn true lessons – through debate not mere acceptance. I was invited only twice to participate in such study efforts. Despite the content of the second critical report eventually coming true, it only damaged the career of the senior man on the effort. The first report, on a much smaller scale got me trip (alone) to the Admiral's in-port cabin. With the proper demeanor and humbleness before a two star, a young Junior Officer can survive, however, I wasn't interested in trying that again. I would leave brilliance and arrogance to someone smarter and braver than me -- such as a Col. John Boyd. The content of this report shows the military is in need of someone like him in its Think Tank efforts.

CB,

I read the report quickly and frankly was disappointed. I will give it another read in an attempt to present some constructive criticism, but wanted to thank you the critical analysis you presented. I probably won't agree with all of it when I re-read the paper, but you hit upon several points I agree with.

"the writers clearly believe that the mission of the US military has changed from fighting wars to population centric activities intended to provide a secure, peaceful, and a democratic environment in which the people of some foreign nation can safely live and prosper."

You're right, the military's principle role is to provide the threat of force, or use force, to pursue an objective. There is no agency or department in the U.S. government that can do this on the scale of the military. While the military does have a minor role to play in diplomacy the main elements of national power that conduct population centric activites are State and AID. We are potentially heading down a ver dangerous path when we divert a good deal of our training focus to population centric engagement instead of warfighting. Furthermore, our population centric focus always fails us because in the end the reality is we're too arrogant culturally to really understand their culture and what motivates their behavior, and we don't realize the limits of our power to influence their behavior.

"The objective of the military during a conflict (war) is first, foremost, and only to destroy a nation’s enemies. How many times do Generals and other officers have to learn that occupying territory is incredibly costly and not an effective means of destroying one’s enemy. Apparently, the lesson needs to be learned once again as occupation (stability operations?) is the focus of this report."

Have to disagree with comment, what General officer recommended occupying either Iraq or Afghanistan? This was a policy decision, a dumb one, but none the less not a military one. The military's problem is that they didn't know how to be an occupation force, and COIN doctrine is not a substitute for occupation doctrine.

"all the time forgetting that the military’s goal was to destroy Al Qaeda, not spending billions / trillions of our money depriving Al Qaeda of a home in one or more given countries. No nation has the funds for that type of effort and it is an incredibly dumb way to pursue one’s enemy. In fact, the Taliban are not our enemy, or if they were it was only for a short period of time—our enemy if Al Qaeda and other similarly objected organization."

I think that has been recognized (compare Iraq and Afghanistan to the approach we took in Libya), but the military can't assume that our civilian leaders will never again direct us to get involved in a quagmire.

"What the Pentagon should do, and will not, is put a together a team of anti-COIN officers to produce a contrary view of military operations during the last decade and allow them to criticize these conclusions."

As you learned, the Pentagon claims to want contrary views that challenge the norm, but in practice those views that don't reflect the current policy/dogma are rejected and quickly sent to the graveyard without serious consideration.

Bill M.: I agree with your statement and like the fact that "I probably won't agree with all of it when I re-read the paper." If I learned one thing long ago (sometimes the hard way) in both my early days and later as a business executive, if everyone agree with your points than one is more than likely headed for disaster or some level of failure. I believe it was Peter Drucker (to indicate my age) who wrote if there are no negatives there are no positives.

Since I only viewed the Iraq and Afghan Campaigns from afar, and given my Vietnam staff level experience, where I saw / read the source of decisions, I should not have been so judgmental about whom originated what I call a strategy of occupation. I am sure your statement that "what General officer recommended occupying either Iraq or Afghanistan? This was a policy decision, a dumb one, but none the less not a military one" is accurate as is rings true given my experience.

Interestingly, through what I have read and through the experiences described to me by family and friends who served in the IDF or accompanied them, the only military I know of (at least since 1973) that has critically reviewed its military campaigns by using an independent party to assess its pre-conflict intelligence and planning and the conduct of its operations, regardless whether the tactical outcome was positive or not so positive, is Israel. The IDF has no problem removing officers from command and retiring them if their performance was considered less than acceptable -- especially if they screwed up in the planning and intelligence phase despite their later acquitting themselves well during battle and turning things around as during their 1973 War -- and despite stellar previous performances. However, different place, different level of potentially immediate national risk, and resulting different attitude.

Studies aside, I do believe that for cost / budgetary reasons we will once again see the shelving of occupation / population centric military efforts or campaigns for a substantial period of time, just as occurred post-Vietnam. Or, at least until the White House policy formulators decide to commit our military to another Iraq or the like.

Here is Tom Ricks' take (or translation) on this report:
http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/06/28/the_joint_staff_study_of...

Well, one can not say that Rick's does not speak candidly.

I'm not a Ricks fan but he's awful close to the mark on this one. Shorter Ricks:

Our Personnel systems foster excessive caution at best and incompetence at worst. They need to be fixed.

Our Education and Individual Training, in some senses better than they have ever been, are still marginal. Our collective training is in worse shape. Our penchant for substituting technology for solid training has been wrong for many years

All eleven issues are traceable to one of those two items including Lessons two and four. The Ricks solution of accountability will NOT fix either of those issues though that is indeed sorely needed. Holding people responible is an ex post facto solution. Selecting the right people and training them properly in the first place will preclude the necessity.

As nearly as I can determine, neither Ricks nor the assessment address the issue of National policy and strategy. Not the lane for the assessment so that's understandable but it is a glaring problem that contributed to the other failures as Bob Jones and Dave Maxwell mention.

Mark,
The interesting thing about strategy is that strategy is concept, theory, geographical location, art, and science. Yet, the less than optimal tactical unification of tasks, or multiple simultaneous tasks, can insure a strategy's collapse. Interesting that suggest that there is a separation of key thematic and overarching themes from strategy. Can you please elaborate.

Hi Terry,

I think my point might seem odd to you because I have a very different conception of strategy to you, based on what you have described strategy as.

I believe your suggestion more approximates some kind of a definition of 'operational art'. I think this may also then account for why you do not see a disconnect between the sense of strategy that you offered, and the 11 operational thematic 'lessons'. Which is fair enough.

The definition(s) of strategy I favour are way less prescriptive. Such as Lawrence Freedman's 'Strategy involves the search for the optimum relationship between political ends and the means to obtain them' or Brodie's 'Strategy is a field where truth is sought in pursuit of viable solutions'.
I also like Beaufre: Strategy is the dialectic of the battle of the wills.

The last one is a great discussion starter when trying to discuss 'strategy' with students.

Cheers

Mark

Mark, Thank You for the clarity.

How would you propose to advance the linkage between them; Especially for those primary units of employment, the BCT or MEU?

From my perspective, each definition of strategy will require a plan that can be implemented at the operational and tactical level. I like both Freedman and Brodie, but at one point, or another, "ways" have to be applied. Essentially, the BCT or MEU with supporting elements is that way.

As I view the current transition to Air-Sea Battle, and the mandate to institutionalize lessons learned, the BCT or MEU will still be required to do the heavy lifting in "pursuit of viable solutions" or to obtain the "optimum relationship."

Your thoughts please?

There seems to be a disconnect between this:

quote. In general, operations during the first half of the decade were often marked by numerous missteps and challenges as the US government and military applied a strategy and force suited for a different threat and environment. unquote.

and the subsequent 11 thematic 'analyses'.

The quote is about the failure of strategy. The analysis defaults to lower order analysis ('lessons') of an operational or campaign level. That is not to say that the thematic analysis is wrong per se, or invalid - just that I think it addresses/ treats the symptoms of strategic failure , rather than the cause(s).

Cheers

Mark

My observation and concern as well.

The comments below are the OSINT Version of what I have sent to CALL (Center For Army Lessons Learned. If you have access to ALLIS (Army Lessons Learned Information System) then you can find it by typing in the following title: The Interdependence of Lessons Learned, Mission Command, and Language and Culture Capability.

Essentially, almost half of the overarching Lessons learned in the DoW Report can be attributed to multiple variables, which means that the "integration" of multiple tasks and "Knowledge sets" in training needs to be reconsidered.

Here is a partial of that report.

The General Purpose Force relies on two broad approaches to assessing training progress and requirements. The Quantitative/Effects Based Approach and Pattern/Trend Analysis. Umbrella week collections and AAR’s generally report on recurring trends and patterns. COIN capabilities are usually assessed by metrics that measure the amount of territorial control, kinetic force, physical capabilities and organizational structure. This COIN capability and assessments are generally viewed in physical terms.

Impressions of a unit’s capability, gained from Umbrella Week trend collections, are considered in the close and immediate term. Institutionalizing lessons learned usually rely on great successes or great failures to amend impressions of training requirements.

A key premise of counterinsurgency doctrine is to monopolize legitimate force. The legitimacy gap is narrowed and informed by language and culture expertise. Language and culture as a cognitive ability impacts this legitimacy gap in the form of non lethal Force Protection. Language and culture Information and cognitive abilities are interdependent with the key principle within Mission Command – the operations process. A successful operations process insures success on multiple mutually supporting lines of operation or effort.

The key to Mission Command (and the operations process) is information. The current obstacles to obtaining and using information are organizational, cultural, and bureaucratic.
For example, there are two recurring observations collected from post deployment
• Develop a robust language and culture program that teaches more than words or phrases.
• There is no real understanding of tribal identity, politics and negotiation.

And consider this sample of comments from various sources.
• AAR’s and observation reports from the field indicate that they need and want more training in tribal organization, tribal ethics, corruption, civil-service, rural development, and religion yet these modules are not studied.

• Unit indicated that language and cultural training received in ARFORGEN is not enough and not reflective of the actual operating environment.
• Those that did receive training received less than 8 hours and indicated it was not reflective of what they needed for the actual operating environment.
• Need more religious insight; more tactical commands and more insight on political views.
• Need a deeper range of cultural knowledge; training was too broad, too little information on any given subject.
• We understood the “dos and don’ts” of Afghan culture, but we did not understand the Afghan perception of the US. The reality is that Afghans (particularly leaders) thought we had access to infinite amounts of funds and resources. In some respects, we did. We also found the Afghans would do/say whatever they could to negotiate more money out of whatever project or deal we were working on. We regularly faced friction in the following scenarios:
a. Afghans thought we had more money to give, and we were perceived as dishonest when we explained we did not. At times, we were even called liars (extremely offensive to US Army leaders). What we did not realize, was the Afghan saw this as a negotiation technique.
b. Afghans commonly used the negotiation technique of threatening to quit, or refusing to make good on a previous agreement if we did not provide additional resources. Again, we took the Afghans at their word, not realizing they were negotiating.
c. Afghans regularly lied to us, even though it is a great dishonor to be called a liar in Afghan culture. Our frustration with their apparent hypocrisy created more friction in our relationships.
If we understood these character traits, we would have been less frustrated and more proficient at negotiating.

Language and culture expertise is an integral component of mission command. It enables the operations process through a contextual understanding of the situation. It Drives the operations process through the activities of understanding, visualizing, describing, directing, leading, and assessing operations in context. Language and culture expertise has been reported to improve a units Force Protection and save lives.

The unpredictability of human behavior affects military operations. Commanders face thinking, uncooperative, and adaptive enemies. Training in language and culture grows unit expertise that helps narrow some of those uncertainty gaps in intelligence, course of action development and decision making. It rapidly becomes apparent that language and culture training is interdependent with mission command and operational success or failure (on multiple mutually supporting LOO) in
• Security.
• Force protection.
• Capacity building.
• Transformation.
• Transitions.

The JCOA, Decade of War, Lessons Learned, Vol 1, reinforces this when it states: “that a failure to recognize and understand the OE; slow to recognize the battle for information and narrative; ineffective Host Nation partnering; and less than optimal Coalition Operations are overarching lessons that the Joint Force can improve on.”

“Because the traditional intelligence effort tended to focus on enemy groups and actions, it neglected “white” information about the population that was necessary for success in a population-centric campaign. Local commanders needed to know information about ethnic and tribal identities, religion, culture, politics, and economics. Intelligence products provided information about enemy actions but were insufficient for other information needed at the local level. Furthermore, there were no pre-established Priority Information Requirements (PIRs) or other checklists that could serve as a first-order approximation for what units needed to know for irregular warfare. As a result, processes for obtaining information on “white” population-centric issues tended to be based on discovery learning, and were not consistently passed on to follow-on units.”

The JCOA report specifically recommends “improve language and culture proficiency: Expand and incentivize language and cultural training across the force.”

Dave,

One thing that always strikes me is the tremendous disconnect (IMO) between the assessment of the environment laid out in the first block above (that I largely agree with), and the "11 strategic themes" that follow as what we must do to deal with this new environment.

My assessment is that we are stuck in a mid-way point in terms of our analysis. We are able to see and fairly accurately assess what is changing; but we cannot break free from the inertia of how we have always gone about business, and continue to execute old strategies designed for a bygone era with minor tactical modifications applied to them.

I suspect this, like most things, is human nature. What we need are strategic themes that force us to overcome our instinct to cling to the known, and that force us to embrace the unknown. Not much appetite for that type of adventurous thinking, but if half measures are what moves us forward, I guess it is a start in the right direction.

Bob

I am surprised this has not received any press since we had seen the leaked draft a couple of weeks ago. But there have been some revisions made in this (notably on FID/SFA and the Philippines).

Note on page 34 the additional recommendation for re-establishing the the Vietnam era MATA course at Ft Bragg (MATA – Military Assistance and Training Advisory)

I do hope everyone will take a critical look at this and challenge it and learn from it. Since this is only Volume 1, I wonder what will be in subsequent volume(s).

I know there had been discussion about making this classified or FOUO (as the draft version was) but then of course it would have been leaked like everything else. I used to think that it was important to release reports like these unclassified so that they could be studied and debated beyond just the military services and the government and be used in civilian classrooms, in think tanks and debated publicly in the press, etc. I was of the impression that making it for public release would allow for more visibility. But now (and I say this somewhat tongue in cheek with all the leaks of late) I think it make have been better to make it classified and then have it be leaked because then people would really take it seriously. Now I am afraid people might think it is watered down and critics will look for what is not in it (which is not a bad thing to do necessarily of course from a critical analysis point of view).

But it should be thoroughly analyzed, discussed, debated and used as a start point for moving the military and USG forward in the complex security environment of the 21st Century. I look forward to the critiques from the Small Wars community.