Home > Grand Strategy, Policy, Strategy, Transformation > True Transformation ….. to what, again?

True Transformation ….. to what, again?

This is a response to an article posted to Armed Forces Journal by Mr. Gregory Foster.  The article is a call for military transformation.  You can read the entire article here: http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2009/12/4230744.

Mr. Foster presents us with something of a top ten list of things to do to transform the military. Some of his points are right on while some are questionable. Right or wrong, all ten are tinged with and undertone of harshness as his utter contempt for the military bleeds through his text.

Still, however unable the author is to separate his emotions, his list warrants consideration as many of his arguments are salient.

The real problem with the article (aside from the vitriolic innuendos), however, is that despite the merit of many of his recommendations, Mr. Foster fails to deliver on his primary thesis. He calls for:

…a strategically effective military: an instrument of power capable of fulfilling the larger aims of society and even of humanity — a self-contained, self-sufficient, full-service enterprise that can be projected over long distances and sustained for extended periods of time to deal successfully and conclusively with a full range of complex emergencies and
conditions.

Achieving such a capability will be a matter, first, of reorienting the military from one charged with preparing for and waging war to one whose purpose and preparations are to prevent war, to secure and preserve peace. These two profoundly different missions — preparing for and waging war and securing and preserving peace — call for profoundly different militaries.

Unfortunately, his list of ten items don’t have anything specifically to do with achieving the type of military he calls for with the above statement. Most of his recommendations are advisable whether for a war-waging or peace-preserving military. I really don’t understand what the difference between these two militaries is, and I don’t think that Mr. Foster does either (or perhaps he just didn’t mention it here).

Having been on multiple combat deployments, I’d be interested to know exactly what Mr. Foster envisions a peace-securing mission to look like. What type of capabilities and doctrine does he recommend we develop?

I think that Mr. Foster has confused policy and grand strategy with defense transformation. In an ideal world the military serves to preserve the peace, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the military is not capable of fighting wars. Rather, it is the skillful strategic employment (or threat of employment) within a broad grand strategic framework supported by governmental policy.

Now, within such a grand strategic framework focused on securing peace, the military should develop capabilities which support more limited, focused objectives (a scalpel) as well as broader, full spectrum combat objectives (broadsword). What those capabilities should be is beyond this forum, but intelligence, civil affairs, information operations, humanitarian assistance, foreign internal defense, and special operations all come to mind.

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