Thursday, December 08, 2005

Evan is the coolest, but not parmeaneidies+

In the article “Change and Transformation in Military Affairs”, Elliot Cohen argues that transformation from the bottom-up has been the most evident throughout military history.

Cohen believes that the greatest changes in war are brought about by spontaneous innovation in reaction to tactical problems. Obviously, this spontaneous innovation is a result of the soldiers on the ground fighting the war, rather than the political thinkers in Washington. We discussed at the beginning of the semester how the failure of junior officers to think on their feet have plagued militaries such as Egypt, but the flexibility of junior officers has typically been a strength in the US military.

Cohen goes on to state that the ability for soldiers to be innovative is linked to their culture, and is therefore the root of American soldiers success. “…Societies that do not see occasional failure as calamitous, that allows juniors to overcome or contradict seniors, and that do not value ‘face’ or reputation excessively are likely to transform themselves.”

However, it seems as though in some aspects American culture is not supporting these "cultural necessities" for innovation or transformation as it has in the past. First, the occasional failure that US troops have met with in Iraq have been seen as calamitous and has been met with demands of withdraw. On Cohen's second point, ( and someone please correct me if I am wrong ) I thought that American officers do stick strictly to their rank and that there is a strong emphasis placed on obeying orders from the officers above you. And finally, in terms of the importance of not relying on reputation excessively, it seems as though with the war in Iraq that there are many people who would have rather not gone at all if it meant a suffering of the US reputation.

Is American culture changing, so that in the future, it will not be as conducive to innovative thinking from its ground soldiers, those who are arguably the most important link in US military transformation?

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