More on the National Military Strategy

By Kroesen, Frederick J. | Army, September 2004 | Go to article overview

More on the National Military Strategy


Kroesen, Frederick J., Army


When reflecting on requirements for a successful achievement of the objectives of our National Military Strategy, it is apparent that we must cope with a long-term threat, already years in the making and promising a determined effort by those who have declared war on us. It is also apparent that, considering the sporadic and tactical nature of the attacks against us, we are not going to lose this war quickly. We have time to adapt, to transform (today's buzzword), to restructure, to make the changes necessary to wage this war most effectively, efficiently and economically.

Perhaps our most pressing need is the awakening of the American people to the seriousness of the war and the dire consequences of losing. The Islamists, the term now used to identify the radical terrorist element of Islam, are today's totalitarians. Their ultimate and announced purpose is the destruction of all infidels-and destruction means eliminating, killing, beheading, using weapons of mass destruction or whatever tools and tactics are available to achieve the end sought. They live among and are sustained by the Islamic populations, much as the Nazis were sustained by the Christian population of Germany and the Russian communists by the peasantry of that nation.

It is not because those populations are or were power-mad or blood-thirsty, but rather because their alternatives were grim at best, likely terminal if they objected or resisted. The plight of the ordinary Iraqi citizen today is a reminder of the danger of opposing the aims of the totalitarian few. The grim alternative for infidels is conversion to Islam, the choice once offered to the Greeks and southern Slavs by the Ottomans.

We are today coping remarkably with the demands of this war, apparently making steady if unspectacular progress. Our successes, however, have been tactical, and they have been achieved by expending the force and, apparently, betting that we can end this thing in a hurry and therefore will have no need for long-term sustainment. (I am reminded that in 1966 the Defense program and budget were limited by the assumption that the Vietnam War would end in fiscal year 1967.) I do not second-guess the judgment that we might wrap things up in Iraq in a short time when I ask, "What if we do not?" If we increase the resources to prepare for the long term, then end things early, we will have wasted only money. …

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