IN RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER POST ON ARMY SIZE, Austin Bay has put up a lengthy post on the same topic. Since Austin has War College experience and so on, his views are worth a lot more than mine. This bit seems key:
However, the issue isnâ€™t merely military power or â€œhow muchâ€ military power. We do a terrible job of â€œunified actionâ€ â€” uniting our diplomatic, information/intelligence, military, and economic elements of power (DIME is the acronym). Some background on this critical point. The military cannot â€œwinâ€ a global war for modernity; the military is merely part of a winning combination. Winning takes all elements of power applied and applied in a sustained, focused (yet flexible) manner. Victory in the Global War on Terror is an incremental process.
I think that’s right. We like to treat this as a military problem because (1) we’re good at those; and (2) that seems to produce simple questions, like “more troops, or not?” Trouble is, those probably aren’t the right questions.
Our Army size was entirely adequate for crushing Saddam’s forces in short order. It’s probably adequate to doing the same to Iran’s forces. It’s not up to fully policing a big country once we’ve done that. Do we want a military that is? Meanwhile, our diplomatic / intelligence resources don’t seem to be doing nearly as well as the military. “More troops” may be a good idea in itself, but it won’t fix that problem either.
In this, I think that Shaun Mullen has it right: “The debate over whether the U.S. Army should be larger is beside the point. The real question is what kind of an Army the United States should have five years after the 9/11 attacks dramatically changed the global military equation.”
UPDATE: Kevin Drum: “Shockingly, I think I pretty much agree with Glenn Reynolds on something related to national security.”
Plus, some thoughts from The Belmont Club: “The attempt to establish a democratic Iraq, however disappointing the experience has been so far, is unlikely to be abandoned very easily in the near future — and perhaps not for as long as a the ghost of a shadow of a chance remains that it may be attained — not only because the current administration is so invested in it, but because the alternatives of divide and rule and naked power politics, which would have been adopted without a second thought by Empires in the early 20th century, are too cold-blooded and heartless to be easily embraced by an American public which genuinely wishes the Iraqi people well.” Will the American public continue to feel that way in a couple of years, though? And, via The Belmont Club’s comments, this post from Gerard van der Leun.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kevin Donovan emails:
Reading Austin Bay’s comments on how the diplomatic, intelligence, military and economic arms of the government don’t work together effectively made me think that maybe we need a Goldwater-Nichols like reorganization to bring State, DOD, CIA, etc. together much as Goldwater-Nichols integrated the operations of the various armed services.
Congressional oversight that tried to come up with real solutions, rather than cheap political point scoring, would be invaluable.
Indeed. And the reorganization idea isn’t bad, though I’m not sure how it should be carried out.