Lessons Learned

Lots’ of folks will try to make this a political bludgeon to beat up on whichever opponent they like to whack. But this is just the latest in a long line of Army and other service reports that take an honest look via hindsight:

Senior officials in the U.S. military were extremely critical of their performance in Iraq and Afghanistan in a little-publicized report issued this spring.

The senior officials’ assessment said there was a “failure to recognize, acknowledge and accurately define” the situation in which the conflicts occurred that led to a “mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions and goals,” the Center for Public Integrity reported Monday on its Web site.

The Pentagon’s Joint Staff, which assists the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said war efforts were marked by a “failure to adequately plan and resource strategic and operational” shifts from one phase to the next.

These conclusions were in the first volume of a draft report, “Decade of War,” part of a multi-volume survey of “enduring lessons” from the past 10 years of conflict.

When completed, “Decades of War” will be used by senior leaders to develop U.S. military forces for the future, Joint Staff spokeswoman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cindy Fields said.

Fields said the May report is an internal document not available to the public, but a copy was posted Thursday on the Web site of “Inside the Pentagon,” a trade publication.

While not naming those responsible, the assessment said the early dismantling of Iraq’s security forces and firing of mid-level government officials — decisions made during the George W. Bush administration — hurt Iraq’s ability to self-govern and fanned insurgency.

Even if the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan had been the most successful in the history of warfare, the services would issue reports that could be seen as highly critical.  Operation Desert Storm was certainly one of the most successful military evolutions in history, and yet, the histories of the war highlight failures and errors. Why? To bash people and decisions? Of course not. The idea is to find what needs improvement, and fix issues and problems.

If you see someone using this as a political weapon, you know they’re idiots. No matter which side they’re bashing.

4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned”

  1. Agreed. If your AAR says, “We were all brilliant and I wouldn’t change a thing”, then it’s useless. Most civilians do not understand that a critical eye is important in reviewing these things and think that this is unusual. Congress is sure to investigate to soothe the public. Heck, the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War spent years delving into things, prompted by… a victory at Gettysburg!

  2. Standard critique and something to be expected on the part of the Army. There’s not a thing wrong with it as it allows the leadership to digest what went right and what went wrong. That is what a good organization does when it wants to do right.

  3. Is it time to whip out the old saw “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy?”

    Of course mistakes were made; they will always be made, since people are imperfect.

    I suppose it’s time to re-read Dunnigan & Nofi’s Shooting Blanks: War Making That Doesn’t Work again. A useful and entertaining work.

  4. Uh, shouldn’t the Joint Staff, with all the big brains, recognize the challenges and help the Combatant Command and below staffs fight their fights? Stop blaming the subordinate commands.

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