Petraeus' PhD thesis: Don't get bogged down in counterinsurgencies
The American military and the lessons of Vietnam: A study of military influence and the use of force in the post-Vietnam era
Soldiers are often less hawkish than civilians when it comes to advocating the use of military force...yes how prescient. OK I'm not going to read all 343 pages of the PDF.
Here's the quote everyone's bandying about:
"The Vietnam experience left the military leadership feeling that they should advise against involvement in counterinsurgencies unless specific, perhaps unlikely, circumstances obtain -- i.e. domestic public support, the promise of a quick campaign, and freedom to employ whatever force is necessary to achieve rapid victory. In light of such criteria, committing U.S. units to counterinsurgencies appears to be a very problematic proposition, difficult to conclude before domestic support erodes and costly enough to threaten the well-being of all America's military forces (and hence the country's national security), not just those involved in the actual counterinsurgency."Emphasis added. It's so weird how the words of the architects and implementers of this fiasco so accurately predict it. There's that Cheney quote from 1994 explaining why invading Iraq would be a bad idea ("It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.") These people clearly have the mental capacity to see what a cock-up it is. But their willfulness or their blind loyalty or their I don't know what is far more powerful.
By the way, did anyone ask Patraeus why the 50:1 rule of thumb for counterinsurgency operations (20 soldiers per 1000 population) was so completely ignored for Iraq? (I talked about this back in December.) I'd like to know his response to this. I don't think we should be occupying Iraq at all. But we don't even have enough troops to do a half-decent occupation, unless there's some super-duper new way of doing counterinsurgency that acts as a "force multiplier".