« The Ethno-Sectarian Violence Maps of the Petraeus Report | HomePage | Denied! Part I: Department of Homeland Security v My Wife »

Tuesday, September 11, 20071189527536

The United States as a 5GW Power in Iraq

A military force that fights the a war in modern warfare's fifth generation -- that is, a 5GW Army, focuses on altering the rules of the game so that the fighting of lower-generational forces proceed in a way favorable to the 5G force.

In his testimony (of which I have a pdf copy thanks to the Small Wars Council and ZenPundit), General David Petraeus describes his view of America's role in Iraq as 5GW in everything but name:

The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources. This competition will take place, and its resolution is key to producing long-term stability in the new Iraq. The question is whether the competition takes place more – or less – violently


The United States, and thus the Multinational Force - Iraq more generally, are fighting the state-without kind of 5GW.

11:18 Posted in Doctrine, Iraq | Permalink | Comments (5) | Tags: Petraeus, 5gw

Comments

Yes, we do have objectives, strategies, and tactics that are all consistent with 5GW, but we still lack so many things. And it is precisely because political obstacles have previously existed, we have not been able to institutionally develop the 5GW force that would be sufficient to achieve the original objective, a reasonably good liberal democracy. Our military acts as a 5GW force because the President has essentially hijacked war from the American people. Our will has only rarely been committed to nation building, and establishment forces (Powell, Scowcroft, etc) were always against this. It makes our ability to do this unstable, and maybe not ready to fight 5GW, despite the fact we have a moral obligation to do so.

Posted by: Steve Pampinella | Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Yes, we do have objectives, strategies, and tactics that are all consistent with 5GW, but we still lack so many things. And it is precisely because political obstacles have previously existed, we have not been able to institutionally develop the 5GW force that would be sufficient to achieve the original objective, a reasonably good liberal democracy"

Agreed!

"Our military acts as a 5GW force because the President has essentially hijacked war from the American people."

Could you explain what you mean?

"Our will has only rarely been committed to nation building"

Agreed! [1,2]

"establishment forces (Powell, Scowcroft, etc) were always against this"

In the sense that the Vietnam generation was against it, yes.

However, prior to that the Establishment was in favor of these wars of choice (Korea, early part of Vietnam, etc.).

"It makes our ability to do this unstable, and maybe not ready to fight 5GW, despite the fact we have a moral obligation to do so."

This I disagree with. We may have to scale back our efforts in Iraq, but the whole purpose and definition of 5GW is that it disperses kinetics over a larger area than earlier generations of war -- that is, it is easier on the blood and treasure.

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/12/15/embracing-defeat-part-ii-blood-and-will.html
[2] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/12/21/embracing-defeat-part-iii-the-born-gimp.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dan asked what I meant by saying that the President had hijacked the war from the rest of the country. I mean more in an institutional sense, in that the executive branch is completely unrestrained by the legislative branch. And also, the fact that the war was sold on relatively false grounds does not help either. I would say a majority of the country has been seriously disillusioned with the conduct of the war, and this blinds many to understanding the strategic shift that Petraeus brings.

As to the cost efficiency of dispersed kinetics (easier on blood and treasure), this I agree with, but it requires that our 5GW effects be intense enough (in terms of strength) overcome that of our opponents. And this requires a full-spectrum effort, from across the government. Because the Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex is still very nascent, we are not as effective practitioners of 5GW as we could be, should be, or in fact, need to be.

It's actually paradoxical. Because the political elites who chose this kind of war convinced everyone of it with a 5GW campaign of their own, our bureaucracies now must struggle to overcome this institutional handicap. The fact that our currency strategy was put into place after three years of losing tells me our leaders had no idea what they stepped into, and further, they really didn't care. Only the military has adopted a 5GW outlook, not the rest of the government. And because of this, the military suffers unnecessarily, and this is what the rest of the country objects to, not to mention the humanitarian cost of nation building without a plan to nation build. Until the institutional obstacles are removed, then waging 5GW before we are ready (morally and institutionally) is problematic.

Posted by: Steve Pampinella | Thursday, September 13, 2007

Steve,

Excellent comment!

"Dan asked what I meant by saying that the President had hijacked the war from the rest of the country. I mean more in an institutional sense, in that the executive branch is completely unrestrained by the legislative branch."

This has been the American way of war since the National Security Act of 1947, at the latest. Certainly the wisdom of the de facto Constitutional change that gave the President and not the Congress the power to declare war is open to debate. It's not the just cause of any particular criticism of Bush, however.

"And also, the fact that the war was sold on relatively false grounds does not help either. I would say a majority of the country has been seriously disillusioned with the conduct of the war, and this blinds many to understanding the strategic shift that Petraeus brings."

Indeed. Bush has done poorly in explaining the reasoning for most of his policy proposals.

"As to the cost efficiency of dispersed kinetics (easier on blood and treasure), this I agree with, but it requires that our 5GW effects be intense enough (in terms of strength) overcome that of our opponents"

I think I disagree. The purpose of 5GW is not to overcome opponents, but to change the system such that your "opponents" work for your ends. As Tom said, "It ain't about not caring how much you bleed, but figuring out how not to bleed whatsoever." [1]

"Because the Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex is still very nascent, we are not as effective practitioners of 5GW as we could be, should be, or in fact, need to be."

Agreed, agreed, agreed.

The Sysadmin Industrial Complex, including its military component, is still being formed. [2] This is one reason I am shifting to supporting the continuation of the Iraq War. If we're this close to being able to do insurgencies right, again, the cost may be worth it.

"Until the institutional obstacles are removed, then waging 5GW before we are ready (morally and institutionally) is problematic."

How does one become morally ready for 5GW?

[1] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/09/headon_apply_directly_to_my_fo.html
[2] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/09/the_nature_of_my_frustration_o.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, September 15, 2007

True, 5GW is about manipulating the system so that opponents' ends are united with ours, but I fear this gets more complex when some actors in our government still play against the system rather than within it. I feel many actors in the government have recognized this, that our opponents have beaten us in our own OODA loop, and are adjusting accordingly. But the others still do not realize this, and so they complicate efforts to manipulate the system. Because some actors are still 'stuck' in their OODA (the David Addingtons of the admin), they negate the efforts of those who can see 'outside' their loop. Our own internal divisions are more threatening in this respect, because they put us in a position where we keep bleeding without realizing how not to.

On second thought, 'morally' was a bad way to describe how to be ready for 5GW. I wanted to emphasize why unity of effort was so important, because without it, we get our own way of completing the mission, and for soldiers and families, this means additional suffering that compromises the will to fight. So maybe 'morally' should be used to describe a form of defense, in that 'moral' preparation and universal acceptance of the mission will guard against 4GW attempts to compromise our will to fight.

Posted by: Steve Pampinella | Monday, September 17, 2007

Post a comment