Restoring Coherence to American Strategy
President Barack Obama announces June 23, 2010, that he is replacing General Stanley McCrystal and nominating General David H. Petraeus to be the top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan (Photo: DoD)  



Colonel Carl Trout
US Army

The views expressed in the document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Department of the Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.



The modern American approach to developing and implementing war strategy has not achieved coherence and unity of effort and has thus far proved insufficient in the wars of the 21st Century. The approach suffers from insufficient interagency dialogue, excessive hierarchy, redundancy, complexity, and flawed practices. Such defects pervade grand and military strategy, and are most pronounced in the attempts to develop strategy for Afghanistan and Iraq. This multidimensional problem is compounded by the pervasive forces of the political-military-industrial complex, legislative incongruity, the mutating character of war, military transformation, and flaws in the War Powers Resolution.

Why is America struggling to design effective war strategies? Should it change its approach? Can it change? If it can, in what ways should it change its approach to develop coherent war strategy to achieve unity of effort as it meets the demands of persistent conflict?

This AY-10 USAWC Resident student paper explores the manifold factors underpinning this issue in the current conflicts associated with Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, now in their ninth and seventh years respectably. The author contends that America can and should adjust its approach to war strategy, and concludes with proposals to do so.

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This page last updated on 27 September 2010.

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