Since it became clear that the Defense Department didn’t
have a comprehensive plan for winning the “post-conflict”
phase of the Iraq war, strategists at the Pentagon have been wrestling
with how to address the so-called transition from “major combat
operations” to “stabilization” and “peacekeeping.”
The issue also is being addressed in the Quadrennial Defense Review
now under way.
In the real world, however, soldiers don’t care about such
categorization, said Brig. Gen. David A. Fastabend, director of
concept development and experimentation at the U.S. Army Training
and Doctrine Command.
“In our doctrine, there is always this seduction of categorization,”
he said. Anecdotal evidence from the front lines in Iraq suggests
that young officers and soldiers don’t operate under the “combat-vs-humanitarian”
mindset, Fastabend said. “Junior officers today are experienced
across a range of operations. Frankly, the people who have trouble
are those who retired during the Cold War and have trouble visualizing
how they would work in this complex environment,” he noted.
“There is no better training than experience.”