Forever wars that lack end-states are folly. Since the US military is not institutionally capable of achieving our desired end-states in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc., it’s fair to ask, “Why are we there?”
In Sept 2019, the Democratic Presidential candidates agreed with me.
Lethality vs Facilitator
The Orientation Problem — It’s not that our forces are incapable of winning. It’s our preparation and ethos that prevent us from linking our theory to our tactics in modern war. If a force is going to be primarily a lethal will-crushing collection of units, then we shouldn’t send these units to state-build.
An infantry battalion is supposed to close with and destroy the enemy. We can train them to do other things, but their ethos remains. They must prepare for battle and never allow complacency to creep into their mindset.
Check out the Break It Down Show episode related to this topic
If instead, units are going to partner, create host-nation capacity and ideally foster stability, our imposition of will focus must be significantly dialed back. A skilled partnering-focused unit switches to surrendering will to the host nation partner-this is a rare skill that’s in no way in line with institutional doctrine.
US forces cannot successfully dominate their host-nation “peer” (and let’s be honest, few Americans consider or respect their partner as a peer) and expect to reliably create the tactical successes required to advance the strategic outcomes. Despite this, dominating partnered peers is what happens all day, every day.
Finally, as a force, the US doesn’t train or anticipate transition. Our lack of capacity in this phase means the tasks of leaving result in actions that are shockingly removed from reality and embarrassingly dismissive of the host-nation partner. Read more on Transition Operations
I watched us pull out of Iraq, I watched us pullback in Afghanistan and we consistently managed to destroy our progress in the process. We’re not good at leaving. BUT! We’re worse at staying gone!
Remember Pres Obama’s “No boots on the ground pledge” for Syria?
“In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long-term campaign. But we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world, understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm. So again, I repeat, we’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach.”
And yet, we have President Trump announcing …we’re going home from Syria,
“it’s time to come back home.”
“We’ve been there for many, many, many years beyond what we were supposed to be. Not fighting. Just there. Just there. And it’s time to come back home,” Trump said in his first public remarks since the shift was announced late Sunday. “But I can understand the other side of it,” he continued. “But if you go by the other side, that means we should never, ever come home. “The President lamented that the most difficult aspect of his job is writing letters to the families of soldiers killed overseas. He described writing to families of soldiers killed by mines or snipers, calling it “devastating.” “We’re willing to do what we have to do, but there has to be an endgame,” he said. “And if you stay, it’s going to be the same thing. Eventually, you’re going to have to leave.”
Ultimately, this post isn’t about presidents. I get it, tens of millions of Americans hate President Trump. His actions have certainly inflamed and divided us. However, if the boss, and that’s what President Trump is right now, says, “enough,” then it’s enough.
It’s easy to sit in judgment and criticize our President’s leadership and claim corruption…but YOU are missing it.
These missions impact lives. Your ill-informed opinions aren’t worth what the deployed service members, and their families must endure. Remember we don’t like forever wars…if the President ends one, ummm? Why is everyone so mad?
Remember those devastating letters the President has to write?
Meet Kenton Stacy. An IED hit Stacy on November 9th, 2017, in Ar-Raqqa, Syria.
He survived and spend the next 18 months in the hospital. Since he was released this spring, he’s been back three times fighting for his life.
The Syrian conflict that so many of you hunger for left Kenton a quadriplegic, blind in one eye, and destroyed his vocal cords.
By the way Kenton is a husband and a father of four.
The cost isn’t Turkish hotels; it turns out politicians do just fine enriching themselves, the cost is the damage to Kenton and his family.
I hosted his wife Lindsey on the Break It Down Show. I wanted to illustrate their day-to day-life. If you’ve got the courage that’s asked of the Stacy’s every day…listen to their story. Then, tell me how fired up you are to send someone like Kenton out with no defined end-state.
Understand, this family is struggling to survive day-to-day. Kenton not only constantly battles for his life; he’s also in a headspace where he’s not sure if he wants to keep fighting for what’s left of it.
Sure, maybe you’re right, and the President is wrong we should stay in the region…but you’re not writing those letters to the Stacy family, are you?
Instead, you’re yelling on Facebook or reading in-depth analysis from someone who’s got no skin in the game. Rather than letting hatred of President Trump guide our actions. Get the Stacy family some relief. If the Kurds are that important, this is the cost. My challenge to you is this, DO SOMETHING!!! If you don’t know what to do or how to do it, reach out to me @peteaturner #stacystrong
Help Kenton directly through the Sinise Foundation