At the same time, there were planners (who shared similar views as Rumsfeld) that this strategy was obsolete. This contention between the two sides would create a conflict in U.S. military strategy. As the country needs a sustainable fighting force that is capable of supporting the challenges of the nation. Yet, the strategies of the past cannot be utilized to fight future wars. Where, the initial successes in Afghanistan and Iraq indicate, how a large military buildup is not necessary to be triumphant on the battlefield. Instead, fighting the enemy through effective air power and ground forces could have a similar impact (without the large numbers of personnel or the preparation time). In this aspect, the strategy that is being implemented by the military; is effective for achieving initial successes on the battlefield. As it will overwhelm and destroy enemy forces to the point, that they will stop fighting (at least temporarily). (Jones, 2008, pp. 7 -- 24)
However, after the various combat operations have ended, is when a mini surge needs to take place, in order to secure and establish civilian control. This is where there will be enough forces on the ground that they can go into remote regions and remain there (in an effort to increase security). In this aspect, the strategy that is being used by the U.S. military has a large shortcoming, as it gives the enemy a chance to regroup. This problematic because, during warfare once you have the momentum, you need to continue with this (to prevent remnants of the enemy from starting some kind of guerilla campaign). The fact that the strategies for Afghanistan and Iraq did not take this into account, would mean that the terrorists would be able to conduct an insurgency against American forces. A good example of this can be seen in the initial aftermath of the collapse of the Sadam Hussein's government in Iraq. Where, wide spread looting was reported at a number of different historical and archeological sites throughout the country. ("Looters Ransack Baghdad Museum," 2003) This is important, because it shows how the lack of follow up planning, would create an atmosphere of lawlessness. At which point, terrorist and remnants of the Iraqi military have an opportunity to regroup and conduct operations against U.S. forces. What this shows, is that the biggest gap in U.S. military doctrine is the lack of follow up in the aftermath of various conflicts. (Jones, 2008, pp. 7 -- 24)
As a result, this strategy would help to make the situation on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan worse. This is because the smaller number of forces; were not able to effectively protect all of the different infrastructure and the civilian population centers / towns. In order to defeat the terrorists, various safe havens must be established to allow life to return to normal. Otherwise, they will be able to create an atmosphere of lawlessness that can affect the morale of the military and public support for their efforts. A good example of this occurred in the years following the invasion of Iraq. As the terrorists were able to use this as a way to be able to create chaos and advance their goals. At which point, the security situation would go into a downward spiral, where many politicians began to question why the U.S. was in Iraq. This would lead to the eventual surge that would take place in 2007, helping to secure many areas that had fallen back into the hands of terrorists and insurgents. This is significant, because it shows how U.S. military doctrine would initially win the war, yet fail to win the peace. Where, some kind of a mini surge would need to occur, during and after combat operations are wrapping up. If such thinking had been incorporated into this strategy, the U.S. could have prevented the initial amounts looting and lawlessness that occurred in the aftermath of hostilities. In this case, one could argue that if this approach had been used in Iraq and Afghanistan, the outcome would have been more favorable.
The long-term effects of what is taking place, has meant that the U.S. military is becoming severely strained. This is problematic, because the reductions that occurred in the size of the military during the 1990's would mean that there was a dramatic reduction in active duty and reserve personnel. This would ripple effects well into the future, as the readiness of the various forces was more limited than they were in the past. After September 11th terrorist, the overall size of the armed forces was not increased. Instead, the levels would remain the same, while the country was expected to fight to different wars at the same time. Obviously, this strategy would mean that the terrorists would be able to make significant gains, because there were not enough forces to address all of the security issues. At which point, they would become emboldened by the lack of control in these areas, leading to an eventual increase in activities against American forces. Over the course of time this would lead to the active duty force and the Reserves / National Guard being strained to the point that they may not be able to respond to other threats facing the country. A good example of this can be seen by looking no further than the events after Hurricane Katrina, where members of the 82nd Airborne had to be diverted from Iraq to New Orleans. This is because; the various National Guard units were in Iraq or Afghanistan, making the government's response less effective. ("Hurricane Katrina Relief," 2005) This is important, because it shows how the overall amounts of strain can have a dramatic impact upon the readiness of the U.S. military, to respond to a host of different threats. Further evidence of this can be seen with comments from Thomas Korb (a Senior Advisor to The Center for Defense Information). Where, he felt that the current strategy is affecting the readiness of the military, by not providing them with enough training or support in combat operations. This is causing both the Army and the Marine Corps to take short cuts in preparing troops for the challenges they will face. Once they arrive in a theater of operations, is when this lack of training can place the lives of these individual in jeopardy and those around them. (Kord, 2007) Commenting about the current situation on the ground Kord said, "The combat readiness of the total Army (active units, the National Guard, and the Army Reserve) is in tatters. Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conducted his own review of our military posture and concluded that there has been an overall decline in military readiness and there is a significant risk that the U.S. military would not be able to respond effectively if it were confronted with another crisis." (Kord, 2007) At which point, Kolb would add, "The simple fact is that the United States currently does not have enough troops who are ready and available for potential contingency missions in places like Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, or anywhere else. For example, when this surge is completed all four brigades of the 82nd Airborne will be deployed, leaving us with no strategic ground reserve. Even at the height of the Korean War, we always have kept one brigade in the continental United States. To meet the manpower requirements Army and Marine Corps Commanders are taking the unprecedented decision to extend the tours of Army brigades currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from 12 months to 15 months -- something that was not even done in Vietnam, when we had over 500,000 troops on the ground, or in Korea, where we had over 300,000 -- is the latest illustration of the unreasonable stress being placed on our ground forces." (Kord, 2007) This is significant, because it shows how the current strategy is straining the various resources of the military dramatically, to the point that it is leaving the nation vulnerable to other threats.
What all of this shows, is that the strategy of the U.S. military needs to be adapted, to address the threats facing the nation and protect against future ones. Otherwise, the U.S. could face the possibility of not being able to respond to domestic or international incidents. This is when the country would face the realistic possibility, of not having enough resources to deal with the various security threats (despite the fact that we can do so at any time). As a result, the U.S. military needs to adapt its strategy, to changes that are taking place in the real world. This is the only way that they can be able to maintain readiness, while addressing the various challenges that they are facing as a part of their mission.
Possible Solutions to the Challenges Facing the U.S. Military
To rectify the current situation, there are a number of different changes that could be implemented to improve the effectiveness…