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The U.S. Military Has Forgotten How to Win Wars

Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2021
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AMAC Exclusive – By Simon Maas

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As thousands of Russian troops continue to mass along the border between Russia and Ukraine, an all-out armed attack remains an alarming possibility, and some U.S. lawmakers are already calling for direct military assistance. At the same time, China is growing increasingly bold in the South Pacific, threatening military action against Taiwan in direct defiance of U.S. calls to cease military exercises in the region.

In the face of such renewed aggression from America’s two chief adversaries, it’s worth asking how we got to this point. On paper, the U.S. military is the greatest fighting force in the world, with the biggest budget and the best equipment. Yet, as Donald Trump famously pointed out, the U.S. military does not seem to win wars anymore, and now for the first time in generations, the country faces the frightening prospect that we might not be able to even deter aggressors. Much of the blame for this can be laid at the feet of both establishment politicians and careerist military leaders who increasingly seem more concerned with winning good press and less concerned with winning wars.

The failures at the highest level of the U.S. military were on full display this summer as the world watched the disastrous American evacuation of Afghanistan, where President Biden and his military advisers oversaw the most humiliating American defeat since Vietnam.

The American people have noticed, too – according to a recent survey conducted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, only 45% of Americans have a “great deal” of trust in the military, a steep drop from 70% three years ago. An additional 10% of respondents said they had “not much” trust in the military, compared with just 2% three years ago.

Even more striking, the results show an 11-percentage point drop in admiration for the military since February.

There are several possible explanations for this downward trend, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan occurred between the February and November survey. It’s also worth noting that, according to the latest survey, a majority of Americans — 52% — named China as the nation posing the greatest threat to the U.S. That’s up from 21% four years ago.

A military that lost in Afghanistan and doesn’t seem prepared to fight China isn’t going to inspire confidence in an American public that’s concerned about China and watched the Afghanistan debacle in real-time.

Of course, the Taliban was unable to defeat the U.S. on the battlefield – and in the last 18 months of President Trump’s tenure, not a single American lost their life in the country. In other words, American troops on the ground did their job. It was the political and military leadership that failed them and their country, a pattern that extends back years. The United States was, for example, handed a similarly embarrassing but far less catastrophic defeat in Iraq, and Obama’s bungled handling of the Arab Spring has directly led to much of the instability in the Middle East today.

Indeed, Washington never executed, let alone articulated, any real vision or strategy for winning in Afghanistan or the Middle East in general, which made victory ever-elusive — and ultimately impossible.

Still, defenders of Biden’s disasters argue that Afghanistan isn’t all that important to American interests, and losing there, while far from ideal, is a manageable, survivable event and will further allow a refocusing of resources on the malign actions of Russia and China. They’re right to an extent: being prepared for a war against China or Russia — so-called great powers — is far more crucial, because losing to either country in an armed conflict would pose an existential threat to the United States. America’s alliances would collapse, tyranny would thrive globally, and the U.S. economy would be at the mercy of a foreign entity. Freedom globally would be under severe threat.

But those arguing for such a re-allocation of military resources toward Russia and China in the wake of the Afghanistan disaster may be avoiding an uncomfortable question: If the United States can’t even defeat an untrained militia of backwards-minded terrorists hiding in the mountains, do we stand any chance against a real modern military power?

Indeed, for years, analysts and strategists have reportedly found in war game after game that the U.S. would lose resoundingly to both China and Russia in a major war over Taiwan or the Baltics, even with all of our material advantages. And a new paper from the U.S. Army War College concluded China no longer fears the U.S. in a fight in East Asia.

In this context, Russia and China’s growing aggression is easy to understand. Although they remain at a disadvantage to the United States in terms of pure military might, they seem to have recognized that they now hold the tactical upper hand, particularly if the Biden administration continues to bow to the demands of dictators like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

However, the military can help restore both public confidence and its warfighting capabilities by addressing two key problems that are hampering its ability to wage war.

First, America’s war colleges and service academies, which were established to teach officers how to fight and win wars, no longer teach warfighting. As two professors and military historians at the U.S. Army War College noted earlier this year, the curricula at these schools have for some 50 years taught soldiers to be “a diplomat, an economist, a scientist, a historian, and a lawyer” — but not a warfighter (a change that was, ironically, implemented just prior to America’s first major military defeat in Vietnam). As another West Point professor has warned, the service academies that are supposed to teach officers how to win battles now operate in an “intellectual fog” that does not allow for adaptation to the changing realities of modern warfare. This needs to change in order for the military leadership to learn how to fight the wars of tomorrow.

Second, the leadership of the U.S. military must reverse its embrace of wokeness. In June, Army Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that he wants “to understand white rage,” and defended the study and teaching of critical race theory within the armed forces. Meanwhile, West Point offers a seminar class on “white rage,” and the chief of Naval Operations recommends How to Be an Antiracist – one of the foundational texts of Critical Race Theory – on the official reading list of the United States Navy. The Navy’s reading list for sailors also includes The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and Sexual Minorities and Politics – hardly the type of thing that would inspire sailors to love the country they are risking their lives to serve. This type of identity politics will not only hurt morale within the ranks, but it will also likely act as a damper on recruitment, even as all the armed services are struggling to fill their ranks.

In short, the military – and specifically military leadership – is in something of a state of crisis. The job of our armed forces is to deter, train for, and, if need be, fight and win wars. The Pentagon isn’t doing that job well very well and is losing the trust of the American people as a result.

The U.S. military needs to get back to basics and relearn how to win wars before we find ourselves in a fight not with a 7th-century tribe, but with a powerful country armed with weapons of mass destruction. And it needs to do that soon – because America’s adversaries will not wait for us to be ready before they choose to act.

Simon Maas is the pen name of a writer living in Virginia.

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PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

The U.S. military hasn’t forgotten how to win wars, but rather is no longer allowed to win wars. This situation has existed for quite some time (decades) and is due largely to the fact that both political and military leadership have decided to intentionally misuse the military to obtain what could best be described as faulty political goals. The one and only real purpose of the military is to eliminate any national security threat to the nation by means of the use of overwhelming force and then return safely home. It is NOT to nation build around the world, act as a permanent alternative to another country’s military force because the other country chooses to not field their own credible military force (much of western Europe since the 1970s) or only fight to an intentional stalemate for the objectives of some misguided politicians. In that, the author did accurately outline the two main causes for why the military has been misused repeatedly.

While it is true that our military is now being intentionally transformed to be a less effective and much more “woke” force that will ultimately be unable to actually win any major military encounters, the left hasn’t currently managed to degrade our military to that state just yet. That will take a few more years of political indoctrination and a continuation of the attack on military morale to achieve that desired goal. So it is a work in progress that needs to be stopped before the situation reduces our military’s capability is allowed to deteriorate to western European levels. That requires a thorough house cleaning of much of the mindset prevalent in Washington. Not a trivial task, but something that is urgently needed.

John
John
2 years ago

Well hundereds were abandoned in Afghanistan so trust him now?? If China is threatning us and building hypersonic missles why are we buying their CCP items in the stores?

JustMe
JustMe
2 years ago

The Democrats don’t want us to win wars.

Jeb_sc
Jeb_sc
2 years ago

Agree. Thank the Lord a large % of Americans are armed to the max.

porterv
porterv
2 years ago

Step 1: Get rid of Biden, Austen, and Milley.

Tom
Tom
2 years ago

That’s because the wimpy democrats think you can talk yourself or spend yourself out of any conflict rather than fight yourself out of it. They still have not learned that doesn’t work! Geez, I hate democrats! The democrats destroy everything they see, hear about or touch – the military is just one of those things.

Thomas
Thomas
2 years ago

We have a group of Bidens which gave away our life’s in Vietnam.

Why would you expect anything different? By strength we stay out of wars, conflicts, police actions or whatever they call it today. By cowardness they will not negotiate and children we send to war die.

Myrna Wade
Myrna Wade
2 years ago

The military is required to adjust to the politics. BUT the politics needs to change to go all out to win when survival is at stake and stand down when necessary.
President Lincoln’s –General McClellan–is a great example. Washington DC was under siege and the General was “getting ready” to stop the menace but never quite getting there.

Joanne 4 justice.
Joanne 4 justice.
2 years ago

Perhaps, the military leaders are too focused on indoctrination of CRT ____in lieu of focusing on their true duties of leadership ????????

Old Papa
Old Papa
2 years ago

Soon we may be in a position where we win or perish. Kill or be killed. I hope it does not come to that as it did in WWI and WWII and the previous wars back to our founding. Our number one major problem is our education system which is backed by a predominately Socialist union. Number two is a Congress which mostly thinks if we are ‘nice’ to the rest of the world, They will be nice to us. Nice thought but the major problem with that theory is the human factor. Humans both male and female who get a taste of money and power want more money and power. I believe in negotiation but you must negotiate from a position of power. I could continue to state my theories for many more pages but I think you get my idea. Socialism does not work and Wokeness eventually turns to s**t.

John
John
2 years ago

Our military has not forgotten how to win a war, the reality is that the so-called leaders lack the gumption General Patton had during WWII. Viet-Nam was not lost it was given away as those wimps in power lacked knowledge as how to attack an enemy. Special rules were expected to be followed that were not part of the UCMJ.
It was more like piss ants ran the US back in the 60’s & 70’s.

Elaine
Elaine
2 years ago

We fight wars to defeat a COMMON enemy. You don’t fight to divide your troops within the ranks! War is bloody and brutal, but being defeated by the enemy and conquered is deadly.

Granky
Granky
2 years ago

Our new “woke”, PC, military won’t stand a chance in a building to building urban battle situation. We no longer recruit and train warriors (killers). The recruiting commercials are more suited to hiring social workers.

Sam Sontheimer
Sam Sontheimer
2 years ago

Well I can see why with a democrat as a commander in chief.

ddd
ddd
2 years ago

since Kissinger in the 60’s and the CIA KILLING JFK the US Military/Industrial agenda was NOT to win but to SPEND $$$$ and CONTROL power. That is why we can never and will never WIN. We are NOT allowed to win. Kissinger and the boys have seen to that. ( shadows of power and the Unseen hnad if you want some proof). imo

Michael Healey
Michael Healey
2 years ago

Biden’s purge of non-compliant unvaccinated officers and enlisted reminds me of Stalin’s Army purges of his military due to lack of loyalty —- probably with the same results!!

RUSSELL REITZ
RUSSELL REITZ
2 years ago

SO, UNITED STATES YOUR ASS IS GRASS.
THANK THE DEMOS FOR THAT MUCH.
AMAC YOU WON’T PRINT THIS WILL YOU.
EITHER BECAUSE YOU ARE A RHINO OR A DEMO, OR LEFTY.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

Cause DC bureaucracy & DoD bureaucracy Block true leaders to win wars day 1
Or OUR forces would have left Afghanistan Years ago

Bill
Bill
2 years ago

Blame Joe Brandon fjb.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
2 years ago

WITH TODAYS LEADERSHIP ??? nO WE WOUKD LOOSE. kYLE l.

David DiFabio
David DiFabio
2 years ago

Not so much the Military forgetting how to win but the politicians not allowing them to win! This is true but most like not for much longer if the Wokatarians succeed in destroying the best Military in world history!

Luke
Luke
2 years ago

Well, nuts! Every war America lost was due to politician’s incessant appetite to ‘build nations’; that is, democracies or representative republics like America. The problem with that thinking is, some peoples’ culture does not and will not foster that kind of government for one reason or another. America is a fortuitous anomaly in world history plagued by heinous dictators and blind, fatal tradition But, nobody bothers to think that way. As a result, the American taxpayer has become the world’s law enforcement agency.

Since WWII, American politicians have run head-long into full social-justice-warrior-mode at the expense of the American soldier and sailor. Taxpayers are not considered. Social behaviors of the enemy or the victim are not considered. Geography and climate aren’t even considered enough to allow a hope victory. Is it any wonder that the American soldier can’t be certain of the enemy on the battle field.

In effect, America was beaten long before the battlefield. Good intentions embraced by liberal ideology forced upon religious, tribal or otherwise conservative populations do not work on a scale that will effect massive changes. And then, there’s a news media controlled by CCP clear back to Vietnam days.

Politicians are unteachable. News media is incorrigible. And, the American taxpayer remains caught in the middle with no voice and no representation. Nobody wins the next war.

jocko
jocko
2 years ago

OUR GREAT TROOPS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HINDERED BY WAY TO MANY RESTRICTIONS; CAN’T WIN WARS LIKE THAT

DeEnna Matthews
DeEnna Matthews
2 years ago

Our military, the rank and file, haven’t forgotten how to win. The suits in Washington and the woke generals appointed don’t want to win. This started way back in Vietnam

Elena Tellez
Elena Tellez
2 years ago

Our military needs to concentrate its training and behavior on how to build teamwork and WIN WARS. Put the liberal BS aside. The military comprises all races, both genders, and everyone needs to work for the TEAM… not their own sensibilities. If you are a political, racial, gender, etc. activist, quit. Stay home in your safe space and let REAL PEOPLE defend your sorry asses. This incompetent president, VP, Speaker of the House, Military Chief of Staff, and other laughable liberals in DC need to stand down… get out of the way…before we lose America… which is what, I’m afraid, they want to happen. This government and military leaders (for the most part) are a DISGRACE.

Arnold
Arnold
2 years ago

The mission of the military is to break things and kill people. What’s to understand?

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
2 years ago

Headline is incorrect. Should read: “Woke leaders have forgotten how to win.” Rank and file members and most officers can win if/when their leaders ALLOW them to!

Sally Duncan
Sally Duncan
2 years ago

One of our biggest problems is that we do NOT have a commander in chief. Biden is, and always has been clueless, as to how to fill that roll. When the election in 2020 was stolen we lost a great leader, debater, negotiator and unabashed stratigist in the whitehouse. The entire Biden administration, all put together, can’t fix what they have broken. 2022 will make a small difference, but unless he and his ilk are removed entirely, we are in deep doodoo!

Ollie Octopus
Ollie Octopus
2 years ago

Not while Comrade Joe is the President.

Robert S.
Robert S.
2 years ago

There is a saying that most Vietnam Veterans know well and that is, “We were winning when I left!” The boots on the ground, the sailors at sea and on the rivers and the airmen and pilots flying cover and bombing the enemy won that war and the Afghan/Iraq wars, it’s the gutless politicians and the worthless leaders at the Pentagon who send us to war without the will to win that are the problem.
Had we bombed Hanoi like we did Tokyo and so many Axis cities in Europe we would have been finished with Vietnam in 1966 and had we run Post War Iraq and Afghanistan like General MacArthur did in 1945 we would not have been in this mess.
If I read another article like this, putting the failure to win on the backs of our service members, I will quit as a member of Amac on the SPOT!

Buttercup12
Buttercup12
2 years ago

I will wager some of our all time great military leaders: Patton, McCarthur, Eisenhower, et al, will not rest in peace until some miracle happens to the military leaders d’jour! And, it will take a miracle to fix all the broken pieces of todays faux military.

Michael Cajohn
Michael Cajohn
2 years ago

General Miley and our SecDef Austin should have had the intestinal fortitude and resigned over the Afghanistan fiasco. The blood of those 13 personnel killed are on their hands, as it is on every member of our current administration.

Garye
Garye
2 years ago

Yes, sadly with the democrat clown show in Washington. Legal Citizens have NO faith or confidence in anything that’s said or done by them.
It’s IMPOSSIBLE to find ONE thing they’ve done right other than destroy America!
Throw them out!

Nick
Nick
2 years ago

They haven’t forgotten how , the politicians
Won’t

Mark Higgs
Mark Higgs
2 years ago

When Pres. Obama started forcing the homosexual agenda upon our military, many of our best officers either resigned in disgust or were passed over for promotion thus elevating the woke boot lickers into leadership positions! When Gen. Austin says he is more worried about “White Rage” than military readiness, you know there is a problem!

Nick
Nick
2 years ago

The politicians won’t allow them to do what is necessary to win a war outright ! And haven’t since WW ll !

Herbert Hill
Herbert Hill
2 years ago

I somewhat agree with the reference to senior military leaders. However, politicians must have the will to win if the military is going to be able to do its job. Good Luck, and I address that to both major parties. And as a note, Alexander the Great could not win in Afghanistan; nor could the Russian Bear. It has something to do with the culture of the country.

Papa Doug
Papa Doug
2 years ago

In Viet Nam, we were made to play by some strange board game rules and it seems the same was happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. Once a conflict has been confirmed the politicians and people at home need to shut up and let the military do their job. For want of allowing the military to do it’s job look what we have now, An inept, milquetoast “president” who cowers at the first sign pf trouble.

Paul LaPrad
Paul LaPrad
2 years ago

Disagree, the military is ok if left alone to wage war as trained. We need to remove the politicians and political generals and other officers

Retired USN
Retired USN
2 years ago

I don’t go for the military leadership is at fault. I’m retired military, and my kids are currently serving.

Yes, there are many high ranking brass in Washington that are mostly interested in feathering their nest for when they leave the military and get hired by lobbyist groups. But for the most part, we have a strong fighting force, with excellent leadership. The issue is the military has become one of the political playing pieces in the fight for our country. Get the politics and “correctness” out of it. Democrats want Communism, Republicans want what ever doesn’t rock the boat and keeps then elected. Give the military the money they need and quit making foreign policy only about personal monetary gain, make it about making this country strong and respected again.

Vjoeu
Vjoeu
2 years ago

The military can take care of business. The problem is the President has to listen to his generals and then let them do their jobs. He’s such a weak leader.

pHr
pHr
2 years ago

Don’t blame our military! They do the best they can with what damned little they are given to work with! The fault lays in the laps of those holding a commanding officer rank and those above them whose bidding they do.
GOD BLESS all those who are the REAL Backbone of our Freedom, the everyday airman, soldier, sailor, marine, reservist…. they work for a meager paycheck while putting their life on the line as well as the future welfare of their families.

Xtech
Xtech
2 years ago

It’s no question politicians “lost” the wars mentioned above, but politicians also have tremendous influence on military leadership at the top levels; If the Woke Joke Gen. Austin is symbolic of military leadership, we’re screwed!

Edward
Edward
2 years ago

No different than corporate america where top brass is ONLY worried about their own WORTHLESS CAREERS, than doing what is right so everyone can prosper!!

Morbious
Morbious
2 years ago

We are like France in the 1930s, led by empty suits. Our best hope is that wisdom and forbearance wins out in china. Our military leadership has been hollowed out and apparatchiks are in the highest places. I pray that our soldiers sailers and marines will not be sacrificed by the demons now ruling us. May this cup pass.

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
2 years ago

It started with the Truman Doctrine in Korea, the Doctrine of containment, not victory. We should have been bombing the bejeezus out of North Vietnam, not just “military” targets or trying to bomb stuff on the Ho Chi Mehn trail. You can’t defeat bad people if you BEAT them. War is war and p**y footing around so you don’t hurt somebody’s feelings is nuts.

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

I don’t think our military has forgotten how to win wars. At present it is being commanded by a Commander-in-Chief POTUS that is a nightmare (Biden) who has total ineptitude combined with a traitorous assistance to enemies and potential enemies (e.g. China). Biden has created a new for of the China syndrome, for example. And he put his soldiers in serious jeopardy in backing out of Afghanistan. The damage Biden and his Democrap buddies is unforgivable as far as I am concerned.

Alllan
Alllan
2 years ago

Elected incompetents and military brass. They are backing away from a much needed civil war.

Diesel Dave
Diesel Dave
2 years ago

I’m a proud veteran of the Air Force. Most of our military members are Americans, and they will fight to the death to win a war. And we can win a war if we get rid of the gutless politicians, starting with POTUS, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State.

ChicagoBill
ChicagoBill
2 years ago

We are still the mightiest military on Earth! Our elected puppets are spineless.
Proud career Navy veteran with eight deployments.

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