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by Master Gunnery Sergeant John Ubaldi
Small Wars Journal
After the euphoria of the removal of Saddam Hussein from power had abated in April of 2003, disorder and chaos became the order of the day. It became apparent that the United States had failed to plan for the restoration of the political and economic order after major combat operations had ended. U.S. experience in Iraq and Afghanistan have amply shown that America's national security structure is still engrained in the Cold War mind set and not adequately prepared to meet the challenges of a post Cold War environment. Civilian and defense leaders failed to understand that combat operations and governance are integral parts of warfare and do not end on a set timetable. The result was a strategic failure on their part to effectively plan for the reconstitution of the Iraqi governmental structure. The current national security strategy is badly flawed and a total reorganization of how the U.S uses its immense power is long overdue. The U.S. will face many types of contingencies in the future, and how we respond will have repercussions beyond the region that the U.S is engaged. For the U.S. to avoid a repeat of Iraqi Freedom it must reform its national security structure, have a designated unity of command in the initial post stability operations, and finally integration of civilian agencies into the military command structure.
Since the end of the Second World War, the nature of warfare has evolved to 4th generation warfare or irregular operations. Unfortunately the U.S. national security apparatus is deeply embedded in the bygone era of the Cold War and not suited for the challenges that confront the U.S. in the 21st century. The root of Washington's failure to anticipate the political disorder in Iraq rests precisely in the characterization of these challenges as postwar problems, a characterization used by virtually all analysts inside and outside of government. The Iraq situation is only the most recent example of the reluctance of civilian and military leaders, as well as most outside experts, to consider the establishment of political and economic order as part of war itself.