Small Wars Journal

Too Much From Too Few

Too Much From Too Few

G. Murphy Donovan

“It’s easier to bleed than it is to sweat.”

– Flannery O’Connor

Cultural milestones are seldom recognized until long after the fact. Some seminal events languish in obscurity until consequences insist that the past be parsed for tripwires or tipping points. Causality is seldom obvious and often muddled by politics over time, especially if the subject is cultural pathology.  The search for answers or the origins of social problems is more like watching bridges rust than it is like finding a eureka moment.  As with bridges, no one seems to care too much about erosion until edifices start to fail. Inertia is the constant companion of all structural decay in engineering, science, and society.

The inertia problem is compounded by culture. In America, values such as positive thinking and rationalization (or excuses) coexist to produce a kind of stasis. On the one hand, a problem solving ethic might drive social engineering at home and intrusive foreign policy abroad.  On the other side of the equation, political rationalizations, like multi-culturalism and political correctness, often inhibit correctives or meaningful reform.

Programs and institutions follow policy. Effective or not, all programs develop a clientele or political constituency, a permanence that may have little to do with original purposes. Good intentions alone, unfortunately, are often good enough to ignore falling bridges and failed policy.

Serial failures often create a host of new problems. Funded failures often become institutional vampires, oblivious to extinction. Indeed, political and military careers are made by creating, not reforming, fixing, or ending ineffective projects and programs.

American Military Decline

American military art/science (strategy, operations, and tactics) is a modern example of an institution in decline. The United States had a long tradition of military success from the Revolutionary War through World War II. The slide may have begun with the Korean War where that outcome might be described as ambiguous. The Vietnam War was a decade-long controversy at home and abroad. All those small wars in the Muslim world since can only be described as serial failures. Modern American military history is characterized by intervention and regime change gambles that are littered by the debris of military fiasco.

Single point failures, military or otherwise, can be beneficial, an opportunity to learn.  All institutions progress through trial and error. Serial failure, however, is often the slippery slope of cultural decay. Low expectations beget bad habits. With enough practice, habits become culture. Correcting a single mistake is routine. Changing a military culture of failure, in contrast, is a generational task.

Losing now seems to be chronic for team America. Some brilliant operational or tactical episodes might be cited, but taken collectively; nothing midst the Muslim small wars of the past six decades suggests strategic success. Indeed, words like war, to say nothing of “victory,” are seldom used today by politicians or generals. Withal, the world is not a safer place today either. Freedom and democracy are not ascendant. Winning on the battlefield seems to be permanently off the military table.

What Happened?

Arguably, the US Armed Forces are some of the best trained, disciplined, and equipped fighting units in the world. Tactical excellence occasionally pays dividends at the operational level. Strategic competence, however, is a void.

Since the end of the Cold War, American politicians and generals seem to be lost in a strategic fog. Absent an existential threat like the Soviet Bloc, American military assets, treasure, and young lives have been squandered on a series of small wars where the conflicts are ephemeral and undeclared whilst objectives, or measures of effectiveness, are unclear. Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Libya, and Yemen are just a few examples where military interventions made matters worse.

Small wars today seem to have little or nothing to do with existential national security and everything to do with domestic politics, political expediency, or the transient crisis of the moment. Force commitment is reactive and ephemeral, not strategic. There is no over-arching vision or objective like “Containment,” to say nothing of expectations like victory. Stated goals and missions are trivialized with meaningless euphemisms like humanitarian concerns, training, “nation building,” or “stability.”

The worst of neologisms might be the so-called “war on terror,” a pleonasm that misfires on three counts.

America has been agnostic since 1948 if the subject is war or Islam. War and jihad is the Muslim perspective, not the American view. Indeed, official US rhetoric relegates Islamic angst, attacks, and terror to common criminal activity, not acts of war. And the rhetorical war on “terror,” the tactic, makes as much sense as declaring “war” on perennial social problems like ignorance, drugs, or crime. War at the Pentagon, National Security Council, and the State Department today is more likely to be an attack on language not Muslim militants. Real combat is regularly obscured by the politically correct burka of political euphemism.

The word “terror” is actually most useful as budget Viagra. No matter the state or federal agency, if you can work words like “terror, radical, or extremist” into your mission statement, funding largesse is assured. Using a word like “Islamist,” on the other hand, to describe the actual threat, is a non-starter at any echelon.  

Treating 60 years of terror, anti-democratic barbarity, and a host of small wars as isolated criminal acts with local motives may explain why America and Europe are losing the global conflict with imperial Islamism.

The slow slide into what can only be described as strategic miasma probably began with end of universal conscription in America and the advent of the “all-volunteer” force. Tipping points are always speculative, if not anecdotal, but the cost and consequences of “professionalizing” the American military is now a study in social pathology.

All-Volunteer Drift

Creating a volunteer force was never about the draft. Conscription in its various incarnations over the years was always controversial, yet effective if military results are a measure of merit. From the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War, and up to WWII; American military expeditions were usually victorious. Conscription was never popular but it worked when it was needed. The Vietnam War changed all that.

The end of “universal” conscription precipitated a storm of cultural, social, and strategic blowback. In fact, the Nixon/Kissinger initiative didn’t just end the draft, it ended military service as we knew it. The civic virtues of shared sacrifice and national obligation went out with the bathwater of political expediency.

If the truth be told, eliminating the draft in 1973 had little to do with national security either and everything to do with domestic politics. The military draft was a political bone thrown by the American Right to the American anti-war Left.

The gambit worked. With the end of the draft, the anti-war movement collapsed. Ironically, scions of the 1970s anti-war counterculture, John Kerry at the State Department is an example, now lead today’s charge into indecisive small wars, regime change schemes, and an assortment of ill-advised interventions justified as counter terrorism.

Alas, a permanent professional standing army was, and still is, at odds with American tradition, just war theory, and everyday common sense.

The founding fathers were justifiably skeptical about standing armies and thus gave Congress the power of the purse, limiting Army funding to two years.  And philosophers frequently argue that ease of misuse is a sign that (any) theory is flawed and ought to be scrapped. “Ease of misuse” is surely a hallmark of American counter-terror theory and tactics since 1973.

The real fly in the ointment of military art as practiced by the Oval Office and the Pentagon today is common sense or pragmatism. In all of this, Congress and both major political parties have been cheerleaders at worst or spectators at best. If the subject is troop deployments, congressional restraint has been AWOL since the Nixon era.

Personalizing military pathology is a risky business. Nonetheless, the Armed Forces, like any other human institution is the sum of personal integrity – or its absence. Here we might be remiss not to mention several human resource symptoms like Admiral Jeremy Boorda, General David Patraeus, General Michael Hayden, General Martin Dempsey, General James Clapper, Major Malik Hasan, Sergeant Robert Bales, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, and Private Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning. The latter is about to be transferred to a more congenial prison where he/she can undergo sex change therapy at taxpayer expense. 

Disastrous or failed strategic military outcomes of the last 50 years speak for themselves.

The domestic social, or pragmatic, consequences of military malpractice in the all-volunteer era, however, fly under the radar. Chronic “misuse” pathologies now produce record levels of disabled, alcoholics, drug abusers, PTSD victims, suicides, homelessness, welfare dependencies, retention/recruitment problems, and Veterans Administration abuses.  Many of these social costs could be attributed to repeat deployments, a phenomenon unprecedented in American military history.

No one at the strategic tier seems to ever ask if we are asking too few to do too much for too few good reasons. If every citizen benefits from national security, shouldn’t all beneficiaries have some skin in the game?        

The all-volunteer army has created a chasm between the combat veteran and the population served. That chasm gets broader with every reckless military intervention or deployment. If national defense is a subset of national security, then every citizen, every family, and every institution that enjoys the benefits of safety and democracy should share the risks and costs. If war is necessary, then so is conscription.

Truth is, in America, if not all republics, there are more votes to be had from grifters, deadbeats, and reluctant conscripts than there will ever be had among earnest volunteers. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put it best: “Without conscription, war is just an abstraction.” The all-volunteer force makes it too easy for politicians to rationalize deployments without fear of consequence at the ballot box.

The great virtue of universal conscription was that risk and sacrifice was shared and personal; in short, a prudent restraint on use abuse. Without universal personal risk, feckless politicians and venal generals get a free hand, to play fast and loose with lives - and national reputation.

When was the last time you saw a flag officer or a politician in a body bag or a wheel chair – or waiting in line for a pill at a VA hospital? Paradoxically, there is less tolerance for casualties with volunteers than there was with draftees. The solution, according to some thoughtful analysts, is social justice.

“Bring back a draft that starts conscription at the top of the social ladder. Or establish recruiting appeals that will garner some share of privileged youth. Otherwise the all-volunteer force will be an ineffective instrument in any time of war or even in peacekeeping, unless the instance is virtually casualty-free.”

American military deployments today are hardly casualty-free, nor are they effective, just, or justified, if results and outcomes matter. For the moment, the draft and conscription is settled law.  Alas, the ship of state may have to hit an iceberg before any new conversation about service, sacrifice, and American military success begins.

About the Author(s)

The author is a former USAF Intelligence officer, Vietnam veteran, a graduate of Iona College (BA), the University of Southern California (MS), the Defense Intelligence College, and the Air War College. He is a former Senior USAF Research Fellow at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica and the former Director of Research and Russian (nee Soviet) Studies, ACS Intelligence, HQ USAF, serving under General James Clapper. Colonel Donovan has served at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Central intelligence Agency.

Comments

Bill C.

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 2:12pm

In reply to by G. Murphy Donovan

G. Murphy Donovan:

In the Old Cold War of yesterday, the Soviets/the communists (who were then, much as we are today, in an "expansionist" mode) faced two enemies; these being:

a. The conservative -- and sometimes radical -- elements of various lesser states and societies (example: the Islamists) and

b. Great nations -- with nuclear weapons -- seeking to obstruct their expansionist designs. (Think: the U.S./the West and "containment," "roll back," etc.)

In this Old Cold War, the Soviets/the communists (rightfully?) understood -- as their primary/principal enemy -- not the conservative/radical Islamic fundamentalists (who were indeed "killing" them) but, rather, the obstructing/nuclear-weaponed great nations of the U.S./the West.

In our New Cold War of today, it is the U.S/the West who is in the expansionist mode and who, ironically but understandably, faces the exact same enemies as our Soviet/the communist counterparts during the Old Cold War; these being, once again:

a. The conservative/radical elements of various populations (example: the Islamists) and

b. Great nations -- with nuclear weapons -- who are in an "obstructionist"/"containment"/"roll back" mode. (Think: Russia and China, and nuclear-Iran if it gets its way).

This being the case, then might the U.S./the West in today's New Cold War, much as was the case with the Soviets/the communists in the Old Cold War, determine that:

a. Our primary/principal enemy today is the obstructing/nuclear-weaponed great nations (of Russia, China, and, potentially, Iran)? And not

b. The conservative/radical elements of various lesser states and societies; some of whom (example: the Islamists) are actually killing us?

G. Murphy Donovan

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 8:23am

Some interesting threads here, on national service, foreign/military strategy, American policy goals, and success or lack of it.

Talking about the draft again isn’t recidivism so much as a discussion of the rational for an institution that might have been jettisoned for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, if compulsory service is ever required again in existential circumstances, absence will not make anybody’s heart fonder, especially women. And if we learn nothing from the past then surely we will continue to behave as Santayana predicted.

And expansionist “strategy” might just be a euphemism for democratic imperialism, a grab bag of reactive crackpot experiments like regime change. And the objectives are? Surely not democracy, stability, or freedom. The default setting for all those Muslim small wars and a dysfunctional Ummah is theocracy, not democracy. If we don’t get that obvious lesson after a 50 year of investment of lives and treasure; we have learned nothing.

And lastly, those questions of success, or measures of effectiveness. At the tactical, and sometimes operational levels, the US military probably has few peers this side of Haifa. Unfortunately, there’s a vacuum of command competence and leadership; from one-button flags up through Service HQs and on up to the E-Ring. The absence of strategic vision, and courage, inside the Beltway is now a national deficit.

Two recent episodes are exculpatory. When the incumbent CJCS was asked why he did not send reinforcements to the besieged in Benghazi, he said he was not “asked” to do so by Foggy Bottom. More recently, the Chairman designee was asked to characterize the global threat. He fingered Russia. Talk about looking backwards! The new guy had little or nothing to say about Islamism or kinetic religious fanatics who are actually killing Americans today.

Hard to believe these guys ever read a newspaper.

G. Murphy Donovan

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 8:23am

Some interesting threads here, on national service, foreign/military strategy, American policy goals, and success or lack of it.

Talking about the draft again isn’t recidivism so much as a discussion of the rational for an institution that might have been jettisoned for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, if compulsory service is ever required again in existential circumstances, absence will not make anybody’s heart fonder, especially women. And if we learn nothing from the past then surely we will continue to behave as Santayana predicted.

And expansionist “strategy” might just be a euphemism for democratic imperialism, a grab bag of reactive crackpot experiments like regime change. And the objectives are? Surely not democracy, stability, or freedom. The default setting for all those Muslim small wars and a dysfunctional Ummah is theocracy, not democracy. If we don’t get that obvious lesson after a 50 year of investment of lives and treasure; we have learned nothing.

And lastly, those questions of success, or measures of effectiveness. At the tactical, and sometimes operational levels, the US military probably has few peers this side of Haifa. Unfortunately, there’s a vacuum of command competence and leadership; from one-button flags up through Service HQs and on up to the E-Ring. The absence of strategic vision, and courage, inside the Beltway is now a national deficit.

Two recent episodes are exculpatory. When the incumbent CJCS was asked why he did not send reinforcements to the besieged in Benghazi, he said he was not “asked” to do so by Foggy Bottom. More recently, the Chairman designee was asked to characterize the global threat. He fingered Russia. Talk about looking backwards! The new guy had little or nothing to say about Islamism or kinetic religious fanatics who are actually killing Americans today.

Hard to believe these guys ever read a newspaper.

The article was well written and strongly argued, but I don't agree with the author's premise that our military, or more correctly our national security has failed over the past 6 decades. I suspect we're allowing our recent failures in Iraq and Afghanistan to taint our view of history. Yet when looked at in perspective, we didn't lose, we simply didn't achieve our outsized objectives. Losing and winning are hard concepts to apply in ambiguous wars that are more shaping operations than decisive battles that will determine the future of our survival. A more accurate measure of our success can be ascertained by assessing the broad international trends that either advance or threaten our national security interests.

I don't know if we won the Cold War, but over time the situation evolved in our favor relative to the Warsaw Pact. An argument could be made that the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and our support to the Afghan resistance were all shaping operations, but in the grand scheme, they were three of hundreds of shaping operations, most of them not military at all. If our goals were to enhance our national security and prosperity, create an international order that supported each of these ends, and promote our values, then I think we managed quite well over the past 60 years.

Many will disagree, but I think time will validate my argument that our declaration of war on terrorism and how that manifested will prove to be the greatest strategic mistake our national leaders have ever made. How we framed the problem and then waged so-called war against it has helped create the conditions that has led to wide spread and growing instability in the Middle East and North Africa (and little beyond). It also blinded us to the rise of other, arguably more serious, threats such as a Russia and possibly an adversarial relationship with a more capable and assertive China.

We don't have military leaders who seek to recreate a WWII type conflict, nor do they desire one. We sure has heck don't have a military designed for that type of conflict. The world has changed, and that is recognized, even if it isn't fully understood. Globalization, power shifts, proliferation of technology, social consciousness on a global scale, etc. Our problem is we still largely have a national security bureaucracy that was designed for the security challenges of yesteryear. Implementing a military draft won't solve that problem, nor will a military draft result in a more coherent strategy that promotes instead of undermines our interests. At best it would simply give us more bodies to continue pursuing a flawed strategy.

Our adversaries are not beating us, if anything we are beating ourselves, much like the USSR defeated itself. If we overspend on our military we will be at just as much risk, if not more, than under spending. We still need a capable military, their role in national security certainly has not diminished; however, other elements of national power should and hopefully will play an even greater role in promoting our security.

Even when our military operations fall short, that doesn't mean we're losing at the strategic level when we look at it over time. If we focus on trends over time instead of the battles and campaigns we will more accurately determine how we're doing. Sometimes focusing the result of relatively small scale military failures that are really shaping operations can be a red herring.

Reference the last question, we're seeing more and more combat vets entering Congress. Some have been wounded seriously. We do have problems, and it isn't my intent to white wash them; however, harkening back to an idealistic past that never really existed is probably not the right answer.

TheCurmudgeon

Thu, 09/10/2015 - 8:47pm

There is much I like in this piece. But unfortunately it joins the ranks of other articles that claim to see a path forward in the methods of the past, a past that exists only in our own propaganda. In fact, many of our current failures are the result of believing our own rhetoric. America has the most powerful Army in the world, and perhaps it is too big, but we have never suffered a military failure. Our failures have been cross-cultural, sociological, psychological, and political. We like to believe that our military liberates, when in fact that is often not the case from the locals point of view. We like to believe that simply overthrowing dictators leads to freedom and democracy, when it actually leads to chaos and death. We need to stop believing that we can recreate WWII across the globe - that the US Army ever had a glorious past filled with success that liberated the world. It was a unique set of conditions that have almost nothing in common with the world today. It should not be the model we look to for organizing and utilizing our Army in the future.

We also need to start to realize that the military is not the future of international power - economics is. In reality, it always has been. Great military powers come and go, but without the economic power behind it, it is just a flash in the pan. When the military threatens a nation's economic power, the military must yield. Today China is a growing power in the world not because of its ability to project military might, it barely has a blue water navy. It can influence world events because of its wealth. We used to do the same in the past, and in the post WWII world our wealth was probably a greater factor in our ability to shape the world than our military ever was. Today we are loosing that ability because we are paying for a military we don't need, and doing it on credit further diminishing our wealth. We have to quit believing that it was the threat of our military that won the Cold War, when it had much more to do with economics, sociology, and psychology -- along with events internal to the Soviet Union that we had very little influence in -- that cause the USSR to collapse. We need to get past pretending we had a glorious past where we destroyed evil and liberated the world and start to realize the limits of our military power and the multitude of other factors at play that led the the complex, non-polar world we live in. Only then can we start to design a military for the future.

"Small wars today seem to have little or nothing to do with existential national security and everything to do with domestic politics, political expediency, or the transient crisis of the moment. Force commitment is reactive and ephemeral, not strategic. There is no over-arching vision or objective like "containment, to say nothing of expectations like victory. Stated goals and missions are trivialized with meaningless euphemisms like humanitarian concerns, training, “nation building,” or “stability.”

First: Obviously, I would disagree here.

The over-arching vision, objective and strategy -- which replaced "Containment" (of the other guy's way of life, the other guy's way of governance, etc.) post-the Cold War -- was "Expansion" (of our way of life, our way of governance, etc.).

Thus, while "victory" during the Cold War might be seen as the effective containment (via war and/or via other means) of the way of life, way of governance, etc., known as communism,

Victory, in the post-Cold War, has meant the effective expansion (via war and/or via other means) of our way of life, our way of governance, etc.

Today's small wars, and related activities ("development"/"nation-building") to be both seen, and understood, and in this exact "expansionist" post-Cold War strategic light.

(Defeat, likewise and accordingly, to be seen as our FAILING -- via war and/or via other means -- to replace alternative ways of life and alternative ways of governance, etc., of other states and societies, with our such models.)

Where I concur with the author here, however, is that our post-Cold War "expansionist" situation does not seem to have the "existential"-caveat/nature/quality of our "containment" situation during the Cold War.

(Thus, the appeal of such things as "radical Islam;" which gives an "existential" quality/appeal/ requirement to our "expansionist" mission?)

Finally: To suggest that we:

a. See the difficulty of having a military draft today,

b. In the exact same strategic framework ("Expansion" of our way of life, etc.) as I have outlined above.

Given our post-Cold War "expansionist" mission (of our way of life, our way of governance, etc.), should we expect that "the top of the social ladder" would not need to be conscripted, and would instead, and quite willingly, volunteer?

So the question becomes: Why have we not seen this?

Does the "upper crust" today (unlike their 19th Century counterparts?) feel that they are too good to do the "White Man's burden" work of the current century?

Or do they simply want to receive the benefits/the fruits of such work -- without having to do/be associated with the "dirty work" that such endeavors often require?

Move Forward

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 8:58pm

Many might idealistically favor a draft. Don't forget that today that would include both men and women and many would lack both the physical and/or mental (high school grads?) ability to serve in the military. There also would be far too many youth for all to serve. That leads us to either exemptions and a draft as in the past, or some form of national service involving more than military service (police, fire fighters, pre-school/day care, medical orderlies, DEA, TSA, Customs, Border Patrol, etc).

What would happen if we required all 20-24 year olds to serve at least one year of national service? From this census link from 2010 that involves about 21,586,000 young men and women cited on page 4 of this link:

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf

If we paid each of them just $8 per hour that would require an annual budget of over $359 billion before Social Security payments and benefits for those young adults. Don't forget that they probably would require barracks/dorms and dining facilities of some sort bringing costs higher. Yeah, food service could be part of national service, but obviously food and real estate are not cheap.

Not realistic.

-------------------------------------

Oh wait. I hate to bump Jeff Goodson's fine responses, however, my initial response was garbage in, garbage out. I forgot that those 21.5 million youth are divided over 5 years and they would only serve one year anytime within those five years. Therefore, the cost is only about $72 billion per year for payrolls but you still must add Social Security, food, shelter, and benefits. Military E-1s and E-2s would be paid less than current pay.

So given the current problem with refugees, borders, and future problems of climate change, perhaps some national service could include overseas USAID-type service or Peace Corps and National Forest Service fire fighters. Others could work for the Army Corps of Engineers building dikes along shores. Still others could construct border fences.

Since I always have a wild idea or two, could we move some of the current refugees to Guantanamo Bay (not prison), Alaska, and less occupied islands of Hawaii? National Service kids could build shelters, serve food, and work on Solar (summer Midnight Sun) and Wind Turbine (winter) projects in Alaska along with the refugees.

Eloquently written, but still looks back through rose-colored glasses at a conscription that never existed in reality, and fails to show how conscription is a cure for poor or lack of clearly-articulated national strategy.

One of the cherished post-Vietnam beliefs is that if only the draft had been "fair" -- if the sons (and later, daughters) of America's social, academic, and political elites spent their "fair share" of time in service, those leaders would be more thoughtful, cautious, or pragmatic about committing America to foreign military adventures. Or alternatively, that those same leaders would have unleashed U.S. military might and achieved victory.

Either view ignores a few realities. First, at no time in U.S. history has there been a draft without exemptions. Even the systems in place during the two world wars -- as close to universal military service as we've ever come -- contained provisions to defer men due to civilian occupation or position, or for dependent (family) status.

Second, even in time of war, not all veterans see combat. In fact, in the last century and this one, that proportion is a minority of the whole.

Last, there's never been demonstrated correlation between political decisions to commit U.S. military forces and even the possibility of President X, Secretary Y, or Senator Z having a son or daughter in the first chalk to deploy. In reality, the post-Vietnam era has seen a steadily escalating game between the President and Congress to deploy U.S. military forces while retaining the ability to deny responsibility or claim coercion later.

If the argument is that our strategy is deficient, then we need to fix strategy, not distract ourselves with coercing 18-year-olds into uniform. If our forces aren't big enough, then we need Congress to authorize a greater end strength -- worry about a draft only if we can't find an adequate number of volunteers. And if it's just that academics like Charles Moskos look back on their two years of conscript service with a certain fondness, let them encourage their own children to volunteer. (Lest anyone wonder whether I've put skin in the game, I spent an entire career in uniform, and my oldest is currently serving.)

There may be merit in universal military training. There may even be merit in conscription. But neither will improve our political leadership (or lack thereof) when it comes to wielding the military instrument -- let's put that myth to bed once and for all.

slapout9

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 2:16pm

OUTSTANDING!!! This should be required reading by every politico,and so called general in the USA!

Always a pleasure to read something so eloquently written.

The issues discussed here seem to suggest that our Army (military?) may be too big for its (and the country’s) own good, which others on this forum have stated. If so, what would be the “right size”, especially given our global commitments which include serving as the Army for some of our allies…? Can we downsize and afford to give up some of those commitments? Should we rely more on global “presence patrols” via the Navy/Marine Corps team and Air Force expeditionary efforts to give “warm fuzzies” to our friends and turn “small wars” efforts over to contractors armed with a Letter of Marque & Reprisal, leaving "Big War" to a draftee military?

What of the oft-noted lack of strategic awareness at higher echelons? What does that mean and what does it say about our PME and assignment plate? Do we have too many flag officers who focus too much on minutiae because that’s what got them their stars (LTG Sanchez…?) vs. focusing on DIME, globalization, business trends, etc….? Should our downsizing efforts include a huge reduction in flag officers that are replaced by civilian direct commissioning from business, academia, politicos, & even retirees during time of "Big War”?

Curious to read what others far smarter than me have to say about this.