One option is to put more emphasis on Special Operations Forces (and airpower). That would push conventional forces into a support role. This suggests that the idea of Counter-Insurgency (COIN) will fall toward the background. This might well be a victory of sorts for Vice President Joe Biden.♠
Someone, humbly claiming status as "a lowly, lowly ink-stained wretch" put it this way:
As for P4, I take the fact that he was not chosen as CJCS and that they want to acclerate the transfer of command from September to July as indicators that Obama believes Petraeus is too heavily invested in COIN, but I could be wrong.This view would explain the personnel moves that have taken place recently, driven by Secretary Robert Gates retiring and CIA Director Leon Panetta moving to Defense, with Army General Martin Dempsey to Chairman and General Ray Odierno as Army Chief of Staff, with General David Petraeus going to CIA.♥
Afghanistan is not going away any time soon, although it might well slide back out of sight, which is what the Administration probably hopes for in 2012. Sort of like Richard Nixon and the Viet-nam War in 1972.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Have I mentioned recently that I think it is a bad idea, from a Constitutional point of view, for the Vice President to be too closely identified with the policy making of the Administration (of which he is not actually a member) or be seen as an advocate for policies within that Administration?
♥ Here is a thought on this lash-up from blogger Thomas Ricks, over at Foreign Policy:
The smart money says this is a short-term play—putting an Army guy in as chairman signals that the Obama administration is very focused on dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Iraq, over the next couple of years. The long-term play would have been guys more focussed on the Pacific and China. I would bet that might be the next round—Dempsey's successor in four years.