Army manual stresses nation building

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The new Army Field Manual puts nation-building as a military task alongside combat operations, and top commanders warn that the war on terrorism will be lost if other government agencies don’t do their fair share.

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, who was involved in writing the manual, said in an interview with The Washington Times that achieving victory against extremist groups requires cohesive ties among U.S. agencies in war-torn regions.

“This manual says that the only way we’ll win the war is if other government agencies that need to be involved are involved,” said Gen. Caldwell, who released the manual — which was written at Fort Leavenworth — Thursday in Florida.

“The days of conducting military operations alone are over,” he said.

The 2008 Army Field Manual on Operations, known as FM 3-0, is the first revision to the Army’s doctrinal blueprint since before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Touted by Gen. Caldwell as “revolutionary” and the “blueprint” for how the Army will operate for the next 15 years, it makes the “stability of a nation” just as vital to success as offensive or defensive combat operations.

The manual’s third directive, titled “stability operations,” focuses on nation-building and reflects the lessons learned during the past six years of fighting al Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But other military commanders are saying it’s not the role of the military to rebuild nations.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely said, however, that current efforts to rebuild in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed a serious financial strain on an Army whose job is to “win war” not “build nations.”

Gen. Vallely said al Qaeda’s methods require “unconventional warfare” in order to win and disagrees with the Army’s new third directive, “stability operations.”

He said that many of the “conventional generals and admirals don’t understand Shariah law or the Middle East” and that spending billions of dollars on rebuilding efforts and massive shipments of military equipment to sustain forces has depleted the Army coffers.

“They are trying to fight an unconventional war conventionally,” he said. “The only way you can destroy [al Qaeda] is through Special Operating Forces, strategic psychological operations and superb intelligence.”

He added that allowing the Defense Department to carry the “whole burden for fighting the war and rebuilding” is a losing battle, adding that the U.S. is “having a tougher time winning now” than when it first entered Afghanistan.

“We took down the Taliban in the fall of 2001, in 34 days with 100 men,” he said. “It is, also, less expensive to fight the war in” unconventional ways.

A Defense Department official added that although it is an “unconventional” war, it is a complex battle that requires “conventional” means as well. He said that although U.S. forces pushed out the Taliban in 2001, the insurgents fled to Pakistan and other areas because there were insufficient conventional forces to back up the operation in order to stop them.

Another top military commander warned that, “without a cohesive government plan to winning the war on terror,” it’s “only a matter of time before al Qaeda regains the ability to strike again.”

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