The straight-forward concepts are easy to explain? Where's the manual?
[Major General David] Petraeus is overseeing a group of active-duty and former officers in the writing of a new joint Army/Marine Corps counterinsurgency field manual. “It is, as with many things in life, much easier to explain than to do,” he told me. “But it is very important to get that basic understanding right again, and the power of a field manual is its ability to communicate relatively straightforward concepts. The basic concepts and principles are not rocket science or brain surgery, but they can be very hard to apply.” Counterinsurgency begins, he said, when military leaders “set the right tone.”
In February, I attended a two-day workshop at Fort Leavenworth, where the authors of the draft heard suggestions from an assembly of critics.
The question hanging unasked over the workshop at Fort Leavenworth was whether it was already too late to change the military’s approach in Iraq. When Kalev Sepp discussed the field manual with students in his class on insurgency at the Naval Postgraduate School, a Special Forces captain said, “If this manual isn’t written soon, you’ll have it ready just in time to give one to each soldier leaving Iraq.”
George Packer's recent New Yorker article gives yet another use case for John Robb's RSS-based National Information Network (via Drum). Packer: