July 4, 2012

“In operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, a failure to recognise, acknowledge and accurately define the operational environment led to a mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions and goals,” reads a new draft report by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

In Decade of War: Enduring Lessons from the Past Decade of Operations, the authors admit to failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay out a series of lessons for the future, including more effective efforts aimed at winning hearts and minds, integrating regular troops and special operations forces, coordination with other government agencies, coalition operations, partnering with the forces of host-nations and paying greater attention to the use of proxy forces.

The report has created a buzz in military circles and has been hailed as offering new insights, but the move away from ruinous large-scale land wars to a new hybrid method of war-fighting, call it “the Obama formula”, has been evident for some time. For the past several years, the US has increasingly turned to special operations forces working not only on their own but also training or fighting beside allied militaries (if not outright proxy armies) in hot spots around the world.

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