Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Article excerpt

IS IT MAJOR COMBAT ... OR IS IT PEACEKEEPING?

Since it became clear that the Defense Department didn't have a comprehensive plan for winning the "post-conflict" phase of the Iraq war, strategists at the Pentagon have been wrestling with how to address the so-called transition from "major combat operations" to "stabilization" and "peacekeeping." The issue also is being addressed in the Quadrennial Defense Review now under way.

In the real world, however, soldiers don't care about such categorization, said Brig. Gen. David A. Fastabend, director of concept development and experimentation at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

"In our doctrine, there is always this seduction of categorization," he said. Anecdotal evidence from the front lines in Iraq suggests that young officers and soldiers don't operate under the "combat-vs-humanitarian" mindset, Fastabend said. "Junior officers today are experienced across a range of operations. Frankly, the people who have trouble are those who retired during the Cold War and have trouble visualizing how they would work in this complex environment," he noted. "There is no better training than experience."

MILITARY SERVICES HAVE MOVED BEYOND 'JOINT'

Pentagon planners appear not to have caught on to the fact that the term "joint," which pervades every discussion about military transformation, has become outdated.

"My personal view is that joint-ness is almost passé now," said Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, director of operations on the Joint Staff. Joint-service operations are not a novelty, but a "way of life," Conway told reporters. "As a classic example, in Ramadi [Iraq], we had a Marine battalion working for an Army brigade commander who worked for a Marine division commander who worked for me, and I work for an Army three-star ... You're going to soon see Army soldiers wearing a 1st Marine Division or a 2nd Marine Division patch that represents their battle patch," Conway said. "That'll be very symbolic of this whole idea of joint-ness."

In another clear indication that the thinking on joint-ness has changed, in November 2004, the Joint Staff mandated that the term "joint tactics, techniques and procedures" be removed from the Defense Department's Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.

MARINE BRIGADE COULD Go TO SPECIAL OPS COMMAND

Defense Department officials are considering assigning the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade to the U. …

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