Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 12

victory without sustainment is a recipe for defeat, and we may be on the path to defeat. For the proper context to understand why, it is necessary to recognize that sustaining over time the physical and moral ground gained in war to achieve victory stems mainly from political decisions. But, in order for the political leadership to make the necessary commitments, they must be thoroughly informed and familiar with the requirements to achieve victory as well as the consequences of failing to do so. Moreover, they (especially our commander in chief ) must have the will to direct what is necessary. This raises some salient questions: Has our military leadership been honest in its assessments with our political leadership with regard to what was really needed to achieve victory against IS? And, have our commanders in chief taken to heart and given credence to what the nation’s military and diplomatic leaders have advised them is necessary to do? It is incumbent upon readers to judge for themselves the adequacy of answers to those questions as they pertain to recent wars, including the one we are now engaged against IS. With the above as context, the real questions I wanted to be asked during my testimony—questions I believe should have been of singular concern for those in and out of uniform—are these: Do we know how to win wars anymore? And, do we still have what it takes? Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that the answers for both are that we probably don’t. A Hard Epiphany As a nation, our inability to win wars stems mainly from having lost sight of what it means to win and of the vital importance in doing so in our own interests. As a result, we now participate in war simply because we can, often as a result of what might be viewed critically as merely high-level political whims dressed up in high-sounding rhetoric. Many factors have produced this situation. First, because we went away from a draft Army, the broad American community has lost the personal stake it once had in any political decision to go to war, and, as a result, many Americans have lost true appreciation or concern for the real human costs involved in war. Instead, many Americans view the Army as little more than a highly respected mercenary force, one that many politicians have come to view as an impersonal (Photo by Associated Press) Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State slogans 16 June 2014 as they carry the Islamic State flag in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq. 10 March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW