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Army manual stresses nation building
Question of the Day
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."
Current military officials interviewed by The Washington Times add that the manual's nation-building directive must not be thought of as solely an "Army-only initiative" but a cohesive effort of U.S. agencies to "pull their own weight."
"I think frankly we're frustrated with the other branches of government," one top military official said on the condition of anonymity.
As an example, the official cited Provincial Reconstruction Teams, intended to be comprised of mainly civilian service members, to provide aid reconstruction and economic development throughout Afghanistan and Iraq, "is still being manned in large part by the Army. Unlike the U.S. military, folks don't join the Department of Agriculture, law enforcement or other government branches to go to Iraq or Afghanistan."
Similar projects in Iraq have also weighed heavily on military resources but are necessary to winning the hearts and minds of the people, the military official said.
"But we can't do it alone," he added.
In a memorandum to Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, Manuel Miranda, who works in the U.S. Embassy's office of legislative statecraft in Baghdad, said the military surge is working but support from State Department bureaucrats for civilian efforts are a disaster.
The most stinging accusation from Mr. Miranda's memo, first reported last month in The Washington Times, is that the State Department is an "albatross around the neck of the coalition command."
Last summer, commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan took the helm when it came to funding and manning many of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams that were not living up to expectations. Military officials and commanders said they realized the importance of the PRTs in gaining the trust of the people and building the necessary relationships to gain ground against al Qaeda and other insurgents.
Although the State Department is leading the effort, most of the funding and work is being done by the Army, the officials said. According to officials, the State Department didn't have enough money, security or the manpower, so the Army, and to a lesser extent other military branches, "picked up the slack," one official said.
"Most soldiers are doing frontline support — but now they are also building schools, negotiating with tribal sheiks" and other non-frontline duties, the official added.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in November that "new threats also require our government to operate as a whole differently — to act with unity, agility, and creativity ... they will require considerably more resources devoted to America's non-military instruments of power."
Robert Maginnis, a former Army officer and Pentagon consultant said the manual is a road map for the future of the war on terror anywhere in the world.
"It's not necessarily Iraq or Afghanistan, the war on terror can be anywhere," he said. "The threat is not just from common criminals but people who are well-armed, well-informed with the means to communicate effectively. A sophisticated enemy without a nation."
Gen. Caldwell said that many of the manual's authors came "directly out of theater" with the right knowledge of what it will take to conduct operations and win the war. The Army also used civilian officials, members of Congress, retired military, active soldiers and the media to develop the manual.
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