Pentagon Planning Document Leaves Iraq Out of Equation: A four-year blueprint for the military reflects a view that the war is an anomaly. There’s talk of robots and drones, but no force buildup. (Mark Mazzetti, January 24, 2006, LA Times)

The U.S. military has long been accused of always planning to fight its last war. But as the Pentagon assesses threats to national security over the next four years, a major blueprint being completed in the shadow of the Iraq war will do largely the opposite.

The military went into Iraq with a vision that a small, agile, and lightly armored force could win a quick preemptive war. Although the U.S. easily crushed Saddam Hussein’s army, the subsequent occupation has proven far costlier in lives, money and international standing than most expected.

As a result, the U.S. military has no appetite for another lengthy war of “regime change.”

And while some new lessons will be incorporated into the Pentagon review, the spending blueprint for the next four years will largely stick to the script Pentagon officials wrote before the Iraq war, according to those familiar with the nearly final document that will be presented to Congress in early February.

Iraq “is clearly a one-off,” said a Pentagon official who is working on the top-to-bottom study, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review. “There is certainly no intention to do it again.”

And here we thought neocons and the Left were the only ones who hadn’t figured out that W isn’t an imperialist.

US sets its sights on asymmetric warfare (Ehsan Ahrari , 1/26/06, Asia Times)

The QDR has four major goals: defeating terrorism, defending the homeland, influencing such nations as China that are at a “crossroads” in their world role, and preventing hostile states or actors from acquiring nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons (look out Iran!).

In terms of fighting terrorism, the focus is on increasing the size and enhancing the capabilities of the Special Forces. They will be expanded from 15 to 20 active-duty battalions. Ninety more “A teams” (12-man highly skilled teams to conduct special operations) will be created and be deployed in areas considered vulnerable to terrorist or extremist influences. The US military will also increase its capabilities on tracking and eliminating the “most valued military targets”, a euphemism for terrorist leaders. The US Air Force’s special-operations wing will create unmanned aerial drones to maintain endless watch on regions of the world with a high terrorist presence.

The QDR will also spend huge resources to prepare for “irregular”, “catastrophic” and “disruptive” attacks from insurgencies, or terrorist groups with biological weapons, or attacks on the information systems from countries such as China.

The Pentagon has long been aware that China is studying US information systems and developing countermeasures that are focused on its vulnerabilities. The Taiwan conflict has never diminished its significance as a highly contentious issue dividing China and the United States. Thus a great amount of attention and resources are being spent by the Department of Defense in nullifying whatever advantages the People’s Liberation Army might have acquired (ie, countering the countermeasures), which might be used in the event of a military conflict involving Taiwan.

As much as the US has remained focused on developing intricate high-tech defensive and offensive systems against the known capabilities of its potential adversaries, what befuddles China is the seemingly endless capacity of the US military to develop unique campaign plans to win conflicts. That nimbleness and dexterity remain the most valuable characteristic of the US military, a characteristic that is very hard to counter.


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