March 08, 2008

COL Peter Mansoor Weighs in on Gentile and the Surge

Real quick: check out COL Peter Mansoor's response to LTC Gentile over at SWJ. More commentary here later in the weekend. Until then, check out Kip's comments on Gentile's views of the 2006 war in Lebanon, and AM's thoughts on his criticisms of 3-24 and 3-0. Charlie continues at parade rest awaiting his competing COIN strategy.

Gentile worries that the U.S. Army has lost the capability to conduct conventional warfighting operations. I disagree. The Army has not lost that capability; today's Army is the most experienced, professional, and capable combined arms force in our nation's history. Since 2003 the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have routinely engaged in conventional warfighting. Battles in Karbala, An Najaf, Fallujah, Tal Afar, Mosul, Baqubah, Baghdad, and elsewhere have proven the capabilities of our ground forces to engage in conventional combat operations. Combat units routinely use armor, artillery, mechanized infantry, attack aviation, close air support, and other assets to accomplish their missions. The fact that our units are doing non-kinetic operations doesn't mean they've stopped doing high-intensity kinetic operations or have forgotten how. Gentile also doesn't mention how much more capable our brigades are now in terms of command and control and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance than they were when the war began in 2003.

The larger concern, in my view, would be if our senior leaders allow our newly developed counterinsurgency capabilities to lapse, and like Gentile, focus instead on preparing the Army to fight the next “big one." After all, why worry about fighting real wars in the Middle East and South Asia when we can instead keep our military forces in the United States to fight imaginary ones? Iraq and Afghanistan are a long way from being over. To paraphrase a certain high ranking former official, let’s fight the wars we have, rather than the ones we want.