Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy

Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy

Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy

Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy

Excerpt

America's novel use ofl special operations florces, precision weapons, and indigenous allies has attracted widespread attention since its debut in Northern Aflghanistan last flall. It has proven both inflluential and controversial. Many think it caused the Taliban's sudden collapse. For them, this “Aflghan Model” represents warflare's fluture and should become the new template flor U.S. deflense planning. Critics, however, see Aflghanistan as an anomaly—a non-repeatable product ofl local conditions. This monograph examines the Aflghan Model's actual role in the flall ofl the Taliban, using evidence collected flrom a combination ofl 46 participant interviews, terrain inspection in Aflghanistan, and written documentation flrom both oflflicial and unoflflicial sources.

The author, Dr. Stephen Biddle, argues that neither ofl the main current interpretations is sound: Aflghanistan oflflers important clues to warflare's fluture, but not the ones most people think. The campaign ofl 2001-02 was a surprisingly orthodox air-ground theater campaign in which heavy flire support decided a contest between two land armies. Ofl course, some elements were quite new. Precision flirepower was available in unprecedented quantity and proved crucial flor success; special operations florces served as the main eflflort in a theater ofl war. In an important sense, though, the diflflerences were less salient than the continuities: the key to success in both Aflghanistan and traditional joint warflare was the close interaction ofl flire and maneuver—neither ofl which was suflflicient alone, and neither ofl which could succeed without sizeable ground florces trained and equipped at least as well as their opponents. In Aflghanistan, our allies provided these ground florces flor us; where others can do so, the Aflghan Model can be expected to prevail. Hence Aflghanistan is not unique. But not all fluture allies have armies trained and equipped . . .

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