Austin Bay

"Limited interagency" participation was an intentionally bland way of describing our near-total reliance on military personnel to substitute (on an extended basis) for diplomats, agriculture experts and financial advisers.

Rumsfeld replied that the United States is "better at it now than we were five years ago."

The hard truth is, America has never been good at coordinating diplomatic, information, military and economic efforts ("DIME" being the acronym).

World War II U.S. military planning guru Gen. Albert Wedemeyer argued that we didn't do it well in that conflict. "Our failure to use political, economic and psychological means in coordination with military operations during the war also prolonged its duration and caused the loss of many more American lives," Wedemeyer wrote in 1958. Wedemeyer concluded that no side won World War II, since it morphed into the Cold War. Americans did not get the victory their troops earned.

Wedemeyer's opinion matters. As a major in 1941, Gen. George Marshall tasked him to assess the demands of a global war and then devise a mobilization plan to fight it. Wedemeyer's "victory program" became the spine of the U.S. mobilization effort.

Recommendations 74, 75 and 76 of The Iraq Study Group (ISG), published in November 2006, echo Wedemeyer. Here's Recommendation 75: The United States "needs to improve how its constituent agencies -- Defense, State ... Treasury, Justice, the intelligence community ... -- respond to a complex stability operation like that represented by this decade's Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the previous decade's operations in the Balkans. They need to train for, and conduct, joint operations across agency boundaries, following the Goldwater-Nichols model that has proved so successful in the U.S. armed services."

The Global War on Terror is a war for neighborhoods. The war will only be won by successful economic development and political evolution, supported by military and police action.


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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