Over the next decade, I suppose (and hope) that we will see a flurry of analysis to describe what the US military learned from our extensive intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we are to best prepare for future conflicts, then this collection of lessons learned applied directly to structural and procedural changes in our training and combat doctrine are essential.
From my personal experience, despite individual and small unit gallant exploits, I am left pondering the limitations of military intervention. In the end, we are left with an illusion of control- the military can temporarily secure tactical objectives, but, outside significant political shifts and evolution, United States’ strategic goals fall short.
As we begin to leave Iraq and Afghanistan, a political revolution is underway in the Middle East and North Africa. The Obama Administration is choosing to interdict discreetly, lightly and indirectly on a country by country basis.
Perhaps, one lesson learned will be that the holy grail of military intervention is discrete, indirect FID/SFA used sparingly in Phase Zero. Certainly, we are trying a mixture of FID, SFA, CT, air power, and international support to achieve our current objectives, but have we considered the virtues of doing nothing?
In essence, over the next decade, our military strategy would be to allow the internal dissent and reformation and focus on containment to not allow internal violent disruption to cross borders and extend into the greater region.
While this is the anti-thesis of Manifest Destiny and a duty to spread democracy, capitalism, and a responsibility to protect, in many ways, it embodies the true laissez-faire, freedom, and liberty.
In this post-colonial world, can we have the courage to do nothing and allow the people to determine their own way ahead?