Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Winds of Change in the Military

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    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Winds of Change in the Military

    Winds of Change in the Military Approach

    In recent weeks I have spent time at numerous events with U.S. military personnel across the different services, speaking, listening and watching as the senior officers challenge the assumptions they have help on the war on terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan and other pressing issues.

    One of the most innovative new concepts bubbling to the surface is that a great deal can be accomplished in pushing back against Islamist radicals, transnational criminal groups, warlords and militias by recognizing these issues all affect a nation’s sovereignty.

    If one recognizes this, then the need to form coalitions built on U.S. assumptions, pressures and cajoling diminishes considerably. Nations can take actions in their own enlightened self interest to improve or regain their own sovereignty that benefit aspects of U.S. policy, without having to agree on any other policy aspect.

    Most nations do not want organized criminal networks corrupting the system. Most do not want their territory to be terrorist enclaves. Most do not want warlords controlling vast swaths of territory.

    This concept of helping nations focus on their own national sovereignty issues is liberating from the highly unpopular concepts of “coalitions of the willing” and other policies that have been trotted out in recent times.

    Another noticeable change is the military’s new openness to outside thinking and input. This accounts, in large part, for my recent visits to different commands.

    There is a growing recognition that the assumptions in recent years about tackling the broader issues of terrorism, as well as handling matters in Iraq, have to be adjusted. It is heartening to see a marked change toward the use and acceptance of open source material as valid, as well as the willingness to listen to sometimes harsh critics who share the same goals but debate the tactics and strategy.

    One of the realities that much of the military has recognized for many years is that this will not be a military war, at least not the vast bulk of the struggles that arise. The military remains an integral and vital part of the architecture to deal with state and non-state threats, but are not the only part and are often not the lead part.

    Given the weakness of the State Department,

    ( Impotent, is a better word, the State Department has no outreach program, EVEN just telling the truth, like VOA, to the "UMMAHS " IN THE MIDDLE EAST, desperately needed in Pashtoon language in Pakti.
    nothing trying to connect to the hearts and minds, MIA. )

    the generally-recognized inability of Karen Hughes to advance a coherent agenda on outreach, the weakness of the intelligence community and the hodge-podge on strategic thinking that has often prevailed, the military has been called on to do things that it is not qualified to do and should not be asked to do.

    Now, it seems, the lines of responsibility are taking shape in a more coherent manner. Contrary to what many think, the military is quite happy to shed some of the responsibilities that have been thrown its way.

    I don’t know how Iraq will turn out or if the situation in Pakistan will lead to a strengthening of al Qaeda. I do know that much creative thinking is now going into the short and long term issues this complex mosaic presents. It is refreshing to see.

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