Early indications are that we are likely to see, a return of US leadership for the respect of international law and human rights, at the same time as we will quickly employ a more rational allocation of our military and law enforcement resources, and ramp up the Afghan battle-space adaptation cycle speed.
Expect to see our Spec Ops forces and Counter-terror Feds (CIA & FBI), who go in harms' way for us, to be increasingly focused on smaller, highly capable, and quicker reaction units, operating with a broader global reach, a Spread Highly Diverse anti-terror offensive campaign (my coinage, lifted shamelessly from Penn State football terminology, "spread HD offense").
There has not been much MSM coverage of our Special Operations Forces, throughout the Iraq and Afghan Wars, probably for understandable unit security rationales. But their efforts are there to be recognized, if you read closely, in the story-behind-the-story. Simply put, these folks are at the heart of our success in targeting terrorist cell leaders and eliminating with them since day 1 after 9/11/01.
President Elect Obama is already on record with his support for increased Spec Ops capabilities -- especially beyond raw fire-power, building classic Special Forces capabilities:
"As we rebuild our armed forces, we must not simply recreate the military of the Cold War era. ... [we] believe that we must build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply; invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, and human intelligence and other needed counterinsurgency and stabilization skill sets; and create a more robust capacity to train, equip, and advise foreign security forces, so that local allies are better prepared to confront mutual threats."
New Thinking on Combating Terrorism
(If your a hammer, you look for nails to hit)
Voices for innovation, from across the political spectrum are finally being raised in an evolving discussion on a new national security policy directed at counter-terrorism, like here, or here . There is a deliberative discussion emerging focused on improving tactics and strategies in combating terrorism, by appropriately counter-acting the notably small numbers of actual jihadist combatants. The jihadist networks have much more in common, structurally and operationally with organized crime, than a organized military force.
"...others urged a broader theoretical reconception of the war on terrorism. “Counterterrorism should be a law-enforcement accountability, not military,” emailed Jesse Wendel, a veteran of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, and his co-blogger, the pseudonymous Minstrel Boy, who said he is a U.S. Navy Seal veteran of Vietnam. Both blog at the popular Group News Blog, which Wendel publishes.
“Treating terrorists as military targets gives terrorists enormously too much credibility,” ... “Terrorists are not nation-states; they are criminals and should be treated like the murderers they are, without giving them a political platform or publicity. The military is not trained to hunt civilians worldwide. The military is trained to kill targets in a kill-zone.”
More rigorous analysis from RAND Corp:
U.S. Should Rethink "War On Terrorism" Strategy to Deal with Resurgent Al Qaida.
"Since al Qaida's goal is the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate, a political solution or negotiated settlement with governments in the Middle East is highly unlikely. The terrorist organization also has made numerous enemies and does not enjoy the kind of mass support received by other organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, largely because al Qaida has not engaged in sponsoring any welfare services, medical clinics, or hospitals.
... the United States should adopt a two-front strategy: rely on policing and intelligence work to root out the terrorist leaders in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, and involve military force -- though not necessarily the U.S. military -- when insurgencies are involved.
The United States also should avoid the use of the term, "war on terror," and replace it with the term "counterterrorism." Nearly every U.S. ally, including the United Kingdom and Australia, has stopped using "war on terror," ... it's more than a mere matter of semantics.
"The term we use to describe our strategy toward terrorists is important, because it affects what kinds of forces you use," .... "Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism."
All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ended because (1) they joined the political process (43 percent) or (2) local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members (40 percent). Military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups, and few groups within this time frame have achieved victory. This has significant implications for dealing with al Qa'ida and suggests fundamentally rethinking post-9/11 U.S. counterterrorism strategy: Policymakers need to understand where to prioritize their efforts with limited resources and attention.
New Military Game Plans
Obama's Afghan Surprise - "Many who voted for him have cheered Obama's plan to withdraw from Iraq, but they may be dismayed to learn just how long and deep a commitment he's considering for Afghanistan."
"General David Petraeus, who last month became chief of Central Command, in charge of US forces in the region, is keenly aware of the problems Afghanistan presents to military strategists. In October, he appointed a special Joint Strategic Assessment Team, headed by the Army’s top counterinsurgency expert, Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, to come up with a plan to present to Obama shortly after the inauguration.
Petraeus is not pulling his punches. He has signaled that the US “effort in Afghanistan is going to be the longest campaign of the long war.” He also declared that he believes an Iraq-style military strategy—in which troops live among and protect civilians, identify and destroy terrorist networks, and seek reconciliation with moderate insurgents—could work in Afghanistan. Petraeus concedes building up Afghanistan’s security forces to do the job will take time, money, and a long-term US commitment. “...You cannot kill or capture your way out of an insurgency,” he says.
The general’s immediate military priorities, military sources speculate, will be to deploy enough US troops to reestablish security for the Afghan people, and enough US advisers to train some 350,000 Afghan troops and police and enable them to mount the kind of counterinsurgency operations that made the Iraq “surge” effective. US strategists would like to nearly quadruple the size of the Afghan army, which now numbers 58,000.
General Petraeus has a considerable professional stake in pushing the newly refined US counterinsurgency doctrine, which he and his brain trust resurrected from the ashes of Vietnam in 2006. For now, the general is credited with turning around Iraq, and is routinely compared by admirers to General Matthew Ridgeway in Korea. Given the speed with which the tenets of “full-spectrum” counterinsurgency have swept the officer corps, Petraeus is presenting the new president with a military strategy that already has a momentum of its own with commanders on the ground and at the Pentagon.
Obama made it very clear to Petraeus last summer in Iraq that he would hear out the general’s military proposals, then weigh the national interest and make his own decisions. A vocal faction among US officers is worried Petraeus’s counterinsurgency juggernaut has moved too fast, without proven results or sufficient debate. Petraeus himself readily admits the security produced by the surge in Iraq is “not irreversible,” a cautionary note that applies as well to Afghanistan.
Our al-Qaeda adversaries are likely feeling the heat of this renewed focus on them in Afghanistan. Their recent rants against our newly elected prez, would seem to indicate a bit of worry on their part.