Strategy Page has a post up about the conventional vs. asymmetric warfare debate:
Inside the U.S. Department of Defense, there is a major battle going on over what the future American military should get ready for, and what kinds of wars are most likely to be encountered. This has led to two major factions. One sees the future as needing an armed force that can fight a “conventional” war (trained forces on both sides, equipped with modern weapons). The other factions sees more like Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. They point out that only one of our last four wars (Kuwait in 1991) was “conventional.”
The Marines claim to be more ready to quickly shift back to big war shape, and the Army is looking at ways to be more flexible, too. That’s good. Though we clearly need to continuously improve our peacemaking capability, the risk of over-correction in that direction seems pretty high.
I’m reminded of a suggestion I made not too long ago: Train all of the National Guard for major conventional warfare and keep the active duty military more flexible.
With limited training time, the NG units could focus on the major conflict scenario and theoretically would benefit from not splitting their resources. Part of this thinking is that the NG units would not deploy for brush wars, except maybe in a very limited role. I think this would go a long way toward fixing and stabilizing the Guard for the long term.
Since the active Army is full-time, they train up for whatever seems best at the time. If things change, they’ll be much more ready to revamp things for a new mission. Obviously, the entire active Army wouldn’t go small war, but some divisions would.