Our preoccupation with doctrine and returning to the roots of our military units stalwarts our own innovation and ability to be creative at war. We have a system that works and is enormous. The military-industrial complex is massive. We have a ton of great people trying to do the right thing. They’re serving and working to make this country and the world a safer place. However, there is constant turnover and everyone has to get a turn. Tactics are constantly changing and we’re always making fine tuned adjustments. We’re driven by doctrine. Interestingly enough, during World War II it’s said part of our success was a nonadherence to doctrine and unpredictability.
Russian aggression and tactics have become almost mythological. I, myself, wrote a series of articles entitled “little green men” describing the irregular warfare soldiers Russia has deployed to Ukraine. But, when I take a closer look at their equipment and even their appearance, they aren’t advanced. They are, however, being utilized in a less risk adverse function than we’ve come to accept. They’re improvising and re-writing whatever doctrine they had over the past years. I can’t help but think the opposite is the crux of our national security. We live in our doctrine and institutions. The individual is not important. It’s a cultural problem because when we accept that the army or the government is a “thing” we relinquish our ability to affect it.
The individual not being more important than the doctrine and the institution and its role has allowed us to amass such a powerful military spear. But, it selects to the middle. We do not retain or look for outliers, and if they’re there – they don’t have a place in the military. That sense of being just another cog in the wheel leads many to get out. It’s not until they realize that the system is agnostic to their existence. That is part of our greatness – we can train people to do the job and thankfully, enough of society steps up.
But, that doctrine is unyielding – and doesn’t allow for truly disruptive thoughts and ideas. Most of our new ideas are old ones (i.e. Jedburgh). Often, after a war we default to our bread and butter, whatever that means to a particular unit. In Special Forces, that means training indigenous forces. But we focus on what we should have been doing the entire time and get distracted by war. Right now, we are working closely with partner forces to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. That should have been our focus the entire time. By now we could have moved on to interesting and unique low visibility operations and developed technology around FID and unconventional warfare, which could make all the difference in Syria. Instead, the force was obsessed with kicking in doors in Iraq.