An open letter to H.R. McMaster

Given your new job and the heavy military composition of NSC directors and policy principals, these paragraphs of yours seem particularly relevant:

Beyond highlighting the limits of so‐called transformational technologies, the principal lesson of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and southern Lebanon might be that military campaigns must be subordinate to a larger strategy that integrates political, military, diplomatic, economic and strategic communication efforts. The strategy must be grounded in social and cultural realities, focus on achieving clearly defined objectives, and call for resources adequate to achieve those objectives as well as cope with unanticipated conditions. Just as coalition plans for Iraq failed to anticipate the full extent of the collapse of the Iraqi state, the demands of post‐conflict stability operations or the growth of an insurgency, Israeli plans did not subordinate military operations to political goals and objectives or fully consider likely enemy reactions. As a result, the Israelis encountered unanticipated military difficulties and performed poorly on the critical battleground of influencing public perception.

The United States, the United Kingdom and their coalition partners are engaged in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq that advocates of defense transformation never considered: protracted counterinsurgency and state‐building efforts that require population security, security‐sector reform, reconstruction and economic development, development of governmental capacity, and the establishment of rule of law. The disconnect between the true nature of these conflicts and prewar visions of future war helps explain the lack of planning for the aftermath of both invasions as well as why it took so long to adapt to the shifting character of the conflicts after initial military operations quickly removed the Taliban and Baathist regimes from power.