Monday, September 05, 2005

The Learning Curve

Our conventional forces need training in unconventional warfare if they are to adapt successfully to the counterinsurgency in Iraq and the rise of fourth-generation warfare worldwide. Unconventional warfare is more than "door-kicking" and HALO jumps; green berets have region specific language training, make initial contacts with indigenous leaders prior to major operations within the theatre of war, mingle with the population at large, and adopt their customs. In other words, they build ties with the community in order to generate trust and cooperation. Sounds like the original (and most effective) oilspot strategy to me.
The ascendancy of SOCOMM (Special Operations Command) and JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom demostrate the primacy the Pentagon has placed on these skills. My question is, are we doing enough to make sure GI's acquire these skills?
Some members of the conventional military would rather not adopt the rubric of the special forces because such training is either too specific or requires a "cowboy" mentality (remember the pictures of Hamid Karzai's Delta Force bodyguards sporting beards and baseball caps?). Nevertheless, such skills have proved highly successful in winning hearts and minds from El Salvador to Iraq.
What gives? Is this another example of a military bureaucracy unwilling or slow to adapt? A rejection of the continuation of peacekeeping and nation-building many hoped would end with Clinton's leave of office? Comments?

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