istration believed the Shia would welcome US troops enthusiastically the Iraqi

Istration believed the shia would welcome us troops

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istration believed the Shia would welcome US troops enthusiastically, the Iraqi army could be disarmed without consequence, and a makeshift transitional government could be quickly assembled to take command of postconflict responsibilities. Few of these assumptions underwent searching analysis, nor were contrarian views allowed to challenge the prevailing consensus. (In this regard, a “devil’s advocate” like Robert Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis can be a game saver.) No strategy can overcome flawed assumptions. They are the foundation on which victory will stand or fall. Think Through Second and Third Order Effects. Thinking through the problem is not a strong suit of western strategists. When Baghdad falls, what can we expect on the day after? Will massive amounts of international assistance fuel widespread corruption? Can the host nation military maintain order, or should it be disbanded? Are
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Hooker 67 sanctuaries in Pakistan an unsolvable problem? In most cases, these are not unknowables. They are the bread and butter of responsible strategy-making. Senior political and military leaders must demand and enforce thorough and painstaking strategic assessments to think the problem through and beyond the initial objectives. Tomorrow’s Crisis is Not Predictable. Despite a plethora of intelligence agencies and scores of “experts” in and out of government, forecasting the next crisis is unlikely, as the Arab Spring demonstrated yet again. Pearl Harbor, the German attack in the Ardennes, the North Korean attack across the 38th parallel, the collapse of the Soviet Union, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, 9/11, and the Arab Spring—these intelligence failures are the rule, not the exception. Broad, overarch- ing strategies, as well as more tailored regional and theater strategies, must be flexible enough to react to the unforeseen. Crisis response mechanisms must be thoroughly rehearsed. Strategists must expect surprises and be ready. It’s Always Better with Allies. Churchill loved to say “the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them.” 20 Going it alone may be necessary on very rare occasions, but in general, a lack of allies should give serious pause. Fighting with allies confers political legitimacy as well as extra troops. Often, allies can provide counsel and an outside perspective that can usefully enhance strategic decisionmak- ing. Sometimes, a threat may be so real and immediate that a unilateral use of force is the only resort. Still, when long-standing allies with congruent interests balk, maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and think again. Maybe they know something we don’t? Beware of Service Agendas. Each military service has its own culture, and all will fight to maximize freedom of action and access to resources. If taken too far, weighting one service risks unbalanc- ing the strategic equilibrium that represents America’s true military strength. A military that is only globally effective in one dimension,
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  • Spring '19
  • Wind, Armed forces, Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Military strategy

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