May 08, 2004

Letter to the Paper XIX

David Brooks writes about our current Crisis of Confidence and makes the point that if we don't fix things, the realists are going to reemerge with their soporifics, lulling the country back to sleep with their siren songs claiming that we can't really fix anything so why not just stay home. I wrote a note because if we're going to avoid the disaster of a worldwide power vacuum we have to retool our military so we don't ever screw up the back half of an invasion again. The text is below:

We have applied ourselves to the problem of taking down tyrants. We assigned the job to the Pentagon and they performed flawlessly, creating a set of military capabilities that are the best in the world at this task. But while they were doing that, they made a fateful decision to downgrade occupation/peacekeeping/nation building tasks to a denigrated category, Military Operations other than War (MOotW). Specializing in solving MOotW was a good way to sideline your career in the military.

But in the post-Westphalian world where we can declare war on non-nation states, there is no such thing as MOotW. It's all war and that's part of what the Pentagon now needs to fix. There's a great deep thinker in the Pentagon that has a solution for this (and a new book out) and other problems of our new age. He's Thomas Barnett and his book is called the Pentagon's New Map. If you haven't had a chance to get to it yet, I highly recommend moving it to the top of your to read pile. The solution he advocates is to bifurcate the military so that there is a branch whose job is exactly the sort of "sys admin" tasks that we're currently falling down on the job delivering.

Once we have a department of the military specifically tasked to handle the jobs we're currently not doing very well, we won't have crises of confidence over them because they'll focus and become the premier force for this sort of thing in the world. The good news is that while our allies are not able to keep pace with us in the traditional battlefield (Barnett calls that section of the military the "Leviathan Force") they can do just fine in the Sys Admin force. In fact, with a formal Sys Admin force structure, they'd fit in even better because they would know exactly what kind of equipment and training they needed to provide to become valued mission partners again instead of almost irrelevant political window dressing.

Posted by TMLutas at May 8, 2004 03:21 PM