I commend to you his article in the current edition of Armed Forces Journal, "Forget the lessons of Iraq".
Among defense intelligentsia, there are few mantras more chic than that which claims the U.S. military “forgot the lessons of Vietnam.” Had it not done so, received wisdom insists, America’s armed forces would not have struggled in Iraq for so long. Powerful adherents to this theory have spawned a follow-on analog, that we must not “forget the lessons of Iraq.”General Dunlap's point in the article is that we should not take the war in Iraq, and our apparent success, as the paradigm for future wars. Already Afghanistan is proving to be different. And, the Russian attack on Georgia was different from either Iraq or Afghanistan. And, Israel's war in Gaza is different from those three and from its war in Lebanon two years ago.
Unfortunately, some of the key lessons these enthusiasts believe should be learned are the wrong ones, and these mistaken ideas are causing America’s military to be altered in ways that may prove troubling as the U.S. faces an increasingly complex and dangerous range of security threats.
Indeed, the devotees of the forgot-the-lessons-of-Vietnam philosophy have become so ascendant that they might be said to form the New Establishment of defense strategists. The New Establishment is especially strong in the Army. As a result, much of the service is being reconceptualized into a constabulary force in which nation-building and stability operations all but trump force-on-force war fighting.
The last paragraph contains an important warning.
Recalling the timeless lesson President Eisenhower’s words evoke could illuminate our thinking: “Every war is going to astonish you in the way it has occurred and in the way it is carried out.” Relying on the experience in just one kind of conflict to redefine America’s military carries the dangerous potential to have the nation learn the harsh lessons of defeat on tomorrow’s battlefields where the enemy chooses not to fight as Iraqi insurgents did.The fact is, the enemy does get a vote and a smart enemy will be looking for new and better ways to fight the United States. We need to understand that and prepare for that. I used to have a sign in my office at Ramstein AB, FRG, that said something along the lines of "The side that wins the next war will not be the one best prepared for Day One, Wave One, but the one that learns the fastest from Day One, Wave One." We need the depth of capability that comes from good education, good training and good materiel and from a broad vision of what the next war might be like.
And, of course, the views expressed in this article are his and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Air Force, the Defense Department or the U.S. government.
Regards -- Cliff