Small Wars Journal

Gen. James Mattis Q&A

Mon, 05/24/2010 - 8:22am
General James Mattis Q&A - Vago Muradian, Defense News.

Q. What are the real lessons of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

A. War is a human endeavor, a social problem, and we have modest expectations that technology is going to solve a problem as complex as warfare.

Second, no war is over until the enemy says it's over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote, as we're often saying in the military.

A third point is that what we cannot do is look towards war today as something that we are going to fight on our own. We are going to be fighting alongside allies of some stripe, and we are going to have to create a military that can easily adapt to other allies fighting alongside it as part of our formations, and perhaps us fighting as part of their formations.

But you can't simply transport the lessons from one theater, even one as recent as Iraq, directly to Afghanistan. It's its own country, the enemy is its own enemy, the terrain is different. Most importantly, the human terrain - the complexity of the human connections, the tribal relationships - is different.

Q. You're changing JFCom's name?

A. I've asked for that change: to Joint and Coalition Forces Command. That decision is not yet made.

Read the entire Q&A at Defense News.