U.S. lawmakers and the wider American public do not understand why it is important to win land wars because the Army has a hard time explaining it, said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno.
“We’re going to see this — interestingly enough — played out, I think, in Syria, where we’re having airstrikes,” Barno told Military Times on Thursday. “The effects of airstrikes and Tomahawk strikes ... are not enduring: They’re transient and as soon as the last bomb falls, the enemy begins to rebuild and readjust. In many, many ways, it’s very difficult to achieve lasting effects and consolidate any kind of success without having some kind of force actually make that permanent. It doesn’t have to be American troops.”
But 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a backlash among the American public against ever using ground forces, said Barno, who led U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. As a result, most Americans do not understand that only ground troops can achieve lasting victories.