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The military learns quickly from its own mistakes 2009-Dec-30 at 22:16 PST

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Army History Finds Early Missteps in Afghanistan, by James Dao, 30-Dec-2009

“A Different Kind of War,” which covers the period from October 2001 until September 2005, represents the first installment of the Army’s official history of the conflict. Written by a team of seven historians at the Army’s Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and based on open source material, it is scheduled to be published by spring.

Though other histories, including “In the Graveyard of Empires” by Seth G. Jones and “Descent Into Chaos” by Ahmed Rashid, cover similar territory, the manuscript of “A Different Kind of War” offers new details and is notable for carrying the imprimatur of the Army itself, which will use the history to train a new generation of officers.

As always, the military is forced to adapt quickly to unexpected circumstances, and it’s good to see their own evaluation of what they did and what had to change to succeed.  I look forward to reading at least some of it.  My expectation for our efforts in Afghanistan in 2010 is that our men and women in the military will have a fair bit of success, mostly because we did it the wrong way already, and we know what to do better now.  This book is the proof.

We need this kind of deep and honest self-reflection as we adapt the military to the long-term “winning the peace” initiatives we’ll be sure to take on in the next 40 years or so.

The New York Times’ copy of this document is here.



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