General McChrystal's New Way of War


mcchrystal1.jpgMax Boot, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal--

Gen. Stanley McChrystal was appointed commander in Afghanistan to shake up a troubled war effort. But one of his first initiatives could wind up changing how the entire military does business.Gen. McChrystal's decision to set up a Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell means creating a corps of roughly 400 officers who will spend years focused on Afghanistan, shuttling in and out of the country and working on those issues even while they are stateside.Today, units typically spend six to 12 months in a war zone, and officers typically spend only a couple years in command before getting a new assignment. This undermines the continuity needed to prevail in complex environments like Afghanistan or Iraq. Too often, just when soldiers figure out what's going on they are shipped back home and neophytes arrive to take their place. Units suffer a disproportionate share of casualties when they first arrive because they don't have a grip on local conditions.
I've also heard rumblings of Army units using new media like Facebook, Flickr, et al to keep their stateside counterparts in touch with the news from local villages and chiefs (the Army just recently unblocked social networking sites).When McChrystal was appointed, the conventional wisdom was that Secretary Gates intended to shake up the Big Army's cumbersome warfighting methodology (Gates did the same with the Air Force, appointing a special forces pilot to the CSAF slot). That decision seems to be working well for the Air Force, just as it's working well for the Army. I'm with Boot, this new strategy shows incredible promise and could ultimately do for Afghanistan what Petraeus' surge did for Iraq.More on Gen. McChrystal here.
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