Sunday, January 15, 2017
SPECIAL REPORT: The Military Loves the Obama Doctrine. Can It Survive Trump?
I have to wave a huge BS flag on the "Obama Doctrine."
First, Obama does not deserve credit for "through, with, and by." That phrase belongs to COL (RET) Mark Boyatt who used it in 1994 to describe the essence of Special Forces operations in unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense. (see Mark's 1994 Special Warfare Magazine article on Unconventional Operations, https://www.
dvidshub.net/publication/ issues/8288 as well as his recent 2016 book, Special Forces: A Unique National Asset Through, With and By here at Amazon)
Second, the concept of "through, with, and by" is NOT a silver bullet and should not form the basis of a doctrine or a strategy. It has taken on a life of its own starting with GEN Odierno's 2008 guidance to the force in Iraq (here in 2008) when he issued his guidance to the force there and the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance.
"Through, with, and by" is an important concept but when it is adopted as a single strategic method it loses its value and undermines its own legitimacy when it is used as the "main effort." The idea that we are going to use indigenous, surrogate, or forces of another country to protect US national security interests and NOT commit US forces to protect those interests is simply wrong. The use of "though, with, and by" creates a paradox and a dependency among those forces. While they are grateful for all the training, advising, assisting, and equipping, they come to believe that if there mission is so important to the US then they become "too big to fail" so to speak and know they will always be bailed out when they are in trouble and that the US will come to their rescue because it is in the US interests to do so. These forces are smart and they are in their own way learning to "live to fight another day" for their own interests - happy to take US assistance and careful not to over extend themselves so as to husband the resources they have been provided so that they have improved capabilities when the US eventually tires of supporting them and realizes that they cannot really support US interests. The underlying premise of working through, with, and by as we help those who seek self determination through political resistance and insurgency by our application of unconventional and political warfare or who help those to develop the capabilities to defend themselves against lawlessness, subversion, insurgency, and terrorism is that we will help them to help themselves but we will NOT do it for them. Once we do start doing it for them we they have lost and we now own the problem. Until we learn this and ween ourselves from the myth that "though, with, and by" is a substitute for strategy and should only be applied in specific circumstances (based on the principle of understanding that rests on comprehensive and continuous assessment) by specific forces we are going to continue to experience strategic failure as we rely on "though, with, and by" as the foundation for our strategy. The concept has great utility but only when correctly applied in the appropriate conditions for which it is suited.
"Through, with, and by" has been hijacked by those outside of SOF and in particular Special Forces. It has great strategic value in helping others to seek self-determination (though UW) and to defend themselves against lawlessness, subversion, insurgency, and terrorism (through FID) but it cannot be the foundation for protecting US interests. It can play a supporting role in achieving US interests but it cannot be a substitute for US forces conducting operations to protect US interests. This great doctrinal and strategic folly that has been in place since the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance (http://archive.defense.gov/
news/Defense_Strategic_ Guidance.pdf ) unless we never forget that caveat "whenever possible" which seems to have been translated to use in every situation in place of US troops:
•Whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives, relying on exercises, rotational presence, and advisory capabilities.
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