Pentagon goes back to school

Marika Theros
1 October 2008


While the American campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed the public views about how and when America goes to war, a serious and underreported debate is being waged within the halls of the Pentagon and the wider military establishment.

Open Democracy contributor Mary Kaldor captures the tensions between the traditional high-tech, big war philosophy often favored by the US Air Force and Navy and the low-intensity, 'small wars' approach supported by the Army and Marine Corps.

The nature of the current conflicts reveals the limits of the traditional security approach, with its focus on technology, speed and firepower. Kaldor, whose work on “new wars” is now studied at US military schools, rightly identifies that the success of the “surge” was in large part more about a “profound change in strategy and tactics” emphasizing the protection of civilians rather than the direct result of increases in troop levels. What remains to be seen is whether this dramatic shift in US military thinking will be embraced politically by a new Administration and the Congress.

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