It’s WW4, I’m tellin’ ya!

Military Culture Must Change to Fight ‘Long War’


As the United States confronts terrorism, military personnel have to make a cultural shift as they fight what officials now call “the Long War,” senior DoD officials said.

Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview that the generation of servicemembers entering the military today must focus on how the United States will deal with extremist networks that threaten America and its allies.

This concept is nothing new, though it certainly seems to be taking a long time to get the parts all organized for the new world we find ourselves in. Changing huge organizations, especially long-standing, tradition-heavy ones like the US military, takes time. While we all sit around impatient for more-significant headway, we need to remind ourselves that it could be a lot worse.

While conventional forces must remain robust and their capabilities must remain second to none, the military’s focus will broaden to include a greater emphasis on special operations. “We have to be able to respond conventionally if necessary, but we must provide more focus on irregular warfare missions,” Odierno said.

Even after the defeat of al Qaeda, extremists groups will remain a problem, Odierno said. This will be complicated because terrorist networks are “non-state actors” that may be operating in friendly nations. The mission will not be to confront armies, navies or air forces, but shadowy groups.

The trick, of course, is morphing into something that can confront these shadowy groups while retaining the ability to (simultaneously, I imagine) confront traditional military powers. Like, say, China.

All ground forces are going to have to work more closely with special operations forces and must enhance their capabilities to work in irregular environments. Special operations forces must also develop new capabilities, and the United States must develop more special operations personnel, Odierno said.

I would suspect that our Special Operations forces are “stretched thin” far more badly than our regular forces. And Civil Affairs and Military Police forces probably need to be significantly bolstered, as well.

And don’t miss Defense Tech’s QDR: China Tops Iraq, Osama?

Plus, in DefenseLink’s Americans Must Understand U.S. Is at War, General Says

“The (terrorist) propaganda on the Internet is clear, they want to re-establish the caliphate,” Odierno said. “The center of the caliphate was initially going to be Afghanistan and was supported by the Taliban. Once the Taliban was defeated and overthrown, they shifted. And now in all their writings they say the center of the caliphate will be in the ‘Land of Two Rivers’ — Iraq.”

Their goal is to start in Iraq, expand the caliphate throughout the Middle East and then ultimately across the entire world, Odierno said. “Will they do this? No,” he said. “But that’s their intent.”

Americans need to talk about these terror goals, he said. Americans need to understand the way the terrorists think and understand the threat they pose, because this may help Americans foster the will to combat these groups, he said.

The article says that every American needs to remind themselves every day that we’re at war. I really think the “Just keep shopping” mentality (to summarize) was the biggest single error that the Bush administration made with the American people after 9/11. Sure, it was important for people to keep living their lives and to keep the nation running, but the push to “carry on as usual” has apparently worked too well with a lot of folks.



  1. Now, I’m just an Army captain, and not plugged in to the big picture folks, but I don’t see why, aside from fiscal restrictions, we can’t conduct the Long War/GWOT while at the same time preparing to fight/detering China. Why? Because the way I see it, they’re two different types of wars, mostly involving different chunks of the military. The GWOT is primarily a boots on the grounds, Army/Marine/SOCOM (and covert ops) kind of war. Aside from moving cargo and dropping the occassional JDAM, USAF/Navy involvement is minimal. Fighting China, if it came to that, OTOH, would be primarily a Navy/Air Force fight, unless the PA decided to go overland into Russia or amphib it into Taiwan or Japan. And China, like Japan was 60 years ago, is quite vulnerable to having their sea lanes interdicted, especially their supply of oil. Plus, once they can’t export to the rest of the world (especially us) their economy is going to go in the toilet in short order. Which means we need more fancy jets (F-22, JSF) cruise missiles, subs, and ships-meaning a Navy designed to duke it out with another navy, not just hunt pirates and support shore ops.

  2. HL: I do not disagree with you at all. I certainly don’t mind seeing the Navy and Air Force morph into GWOT fighters, especially in the sense of supporting the boots on the ground, but I don’t want them to give up too much full-scale warfigthing capability. At the same time, ditching a ton of stuff, much of which is useful today, for a couple of more F-22s or one more DD(X) seeems to be a bit much…

  3. Ah, the domino theory again…how did that work out last time- right, vietnam, quagmire, and the domino theory was wrong. And who could have forgotten the Khamer Rouge… One major problem: Study: Army Stretched to Breaking Point By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: January 25, 2006 Filed at 12:02 a.m. ET WASHINGTON (AP) — Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a ”thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon. Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon’s decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.

  4. ‘Ah, the domino theory again…’ Aaron: What in Hades are you talking about? Where’s the ‘domino theory’? I’ve been trying to take you seriously and respond in a meaningful and thoughtful manner, but it’s difficult. Never mind that you don’t seem to understand the ‘domino theory’ terribly well, or history as it applies to the ‘domino theory’. Want to talk about the ‘domino theory’ and how the US was wrong and there were no ‘dominos’ and maybe even how this war is just like Vietnam? Fine. Go ahead. Start up your own website and do so. You seem to have the flair for it, as you link and quote extensively from other sources. In the meantime, please try to stay on topic while here, and if you’re going to try to make a point, please have one. (Bonus Hint: ‘Not enough. Not nearly enough.’ isn’t a meaningful answer to your own question about armored Iraqi police vehicles.)