US Air Force Major General Charlie Dunlap says forget the lessons of Iraq in the latest edition of The Armed Forces Journal.
Among defense intelligentsia, there are few mantras more chic than that which claims the US military "forgot the lessons of Vietnam." Had it not done so, received wisdom insists, America's armed forces would not have struggled in Iraq for so long. Powerful adherents to this theory have spawned a follow-on analog, that we must not "forget the lessons of Iraq."
Unfortunately, some of the key lessons these enthusiasts believe should be learned are the wrong ones, and these mistaken ideas are causing America's military to be altered in ways that may prove troubling as the US faces an increasingly complex and dangerous range of security threats.
Indeed, the devotees of the forgot-the-lessons-of-Vietnam philosophy have become so ascendant that they might be said to form the New Establishment of defense strategists. The New Establishment is especially strong in the Army. As a result, much of the service is being reconceptualized into a constabulary force in which nation-building and stability operations all but trump force-on-force war fighting...
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