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

AMAC Exclusive – By Simon Maas


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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Bob Perkins
1 year ago

THIS MUST be changed immediately! Our great military exists to protect America and all it’s citizens! They must be WARRIOR’S, ready to fight, kill, capture, at a moments notice and WIN!!
They can’t be neutered, brainwashed, and fed a lot of “political” hogwash, as they are now! Remove the socialistic shackles, motivate them, and set them free to do the job they signed up to do! Unfortunately, it appears far too many political pussy’s have slowly arisen to the top grades and are totally unprepared to lead such warriors to victory! THIS is a major crisis that must be immediately corrected!

Mario Capparuccini
1 year ago

Russia and China do not need to field an expensive armed forces. All they need to do is speak offensive pronouns to our woke military and we will be disabled by rage.

1 year ago

China is already softening up the world for a takeover. They have deployed their biological weapon, COVID. They are destroying our health, our economy, our will to fight. We must not lose the faith.

Dave M.
1 year ago

if the U.S. Military had been forced to fight WW2 with the same controls and restrictions imposed on them since WW2, we would be speaking German or Japanese. as well the limited support for what they are supposed to do, as well as no patience from the American public if it is not accomplished during a commercial break. to make a major culture change would require at least 2 generation changes while living under the hoped for cultural example you are desiring to move toward. just my opinion

Richard Minetti
1 year ago

This guy is totally right and we’ve seen this coming long ago! We need to get rid our current military leaders that are nothing but figureheads and get more like MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Patton!

1 year ago

When I came home from Vietnam in 1969, I heard all of the blame laying at the feet of our military. I was accosted one morning by someone I had great respect for until that morning. He stood in the middle of the business he owned and accused me of being part of a failing military that had lost the war in Vietnam. I promptly told him our guys in Vietnam did not lose anything. Our politicians and youth here in the US where the ones who had tucked their tails and knuckled under to lose the war. In Afghanistan our country decided to lose the war, as in Vietnam because of petty squabbles in Congress. Since Vietnam, we have not had the unity as a nation to present a unified front to fight a war. It all lies at the feet of a divided Congress usually lead by and incompetent President.
Make no mistake. Our military is ready and willing to go to war to win!! But they must be supported by a country willing to give the the respect they deserve. They must not have their hands tied by panty waist politicians, arm chair generals and a military general staff without iron in the backbone to prosecute a war with only one set of “Rules of Engagement”. The Rules of Engagement should be easy to write, to read and to execute….WIN!

MCB 71(Mobile Construction Battalion)
Chu Lai, Republic of South Vietnam
1967 – 1969

1 year ago
Reply to  oren

Thank you sir, for your service.

1 year ago
Reply to  oren

Couldn’t have said it better!!! In Nam in1968-1970, our military leaders had the will and confidence to win, but were hampered, as you said, by politicians. Gen Abrams would have WON the war if not for political weakness. “A Bright Shining Lie” is a powerful testimony to what happened.

Paul Kaiser
1 year ago

First, thank you for a good article on the state of the US military.

But the end of the Vietnam war was political and media driven. Most people still don’t know the truth about the Tet Offensive or many other battles. The media distorted the news and the politicians went along.

I don’t disagree with what you are saying about the need to learn to fight and win, but in Vietnam the military was willing and able to fight and win. As Nixon said in his memoirs, we won the war and lost the peace.

Book recommendation: Vietnam 101.

1 year ago

The Military needs to stop the brainwashing of its members with the political books and outright lies

1 year ago

The military is more than capable of winning but the political will of the past administrations have tied their hands!

1 year ago

Treaty or not the Biden misfits are about to screw up another Foreign Policy and Defense Treaty matter. Or maybe he’ll send more blankets and cot.

Eddie Van Halen
1 year ago

Win a war ? LBJ ( the drunken slob ) needed to nuke Hanoi. 58,000 good young men would have been alive today. Did not want to UPSET china ? Better then than now. Go on the virtual wall website and see the faces of good men who never had a chance to LIVE OUT THEIR DAYS ! ! !

1 year ago

i am too disapointed…………cant america get off this war mentality ?.
why can t we stay out of russia s back yard period …do you really want more wars ??

1 year ago
Reply to  sam

One ignores Communism at their own peril. World domination, not peaceful coexistence, is their end goal.

1 year ago

The Government will Not let the Military finish the mission and do what needs to be done, instead they use the Military as Policing. The Dems Do Not support the Military.

1 year ago

I am disappointed with this article. A so called conservative Republican got us into this previous war. He botched almost everything and was president on the day when the worst loss of life in this century occurred. Then a Democrat took over and did nothing. Then President Trump took office and at least maintained a powerful American presence and pledged to exit the region. Another Democrat came in and presided over the biggest disaster since Viet Nam. America is not the world’s police force! My son deployed today with AMERICA’S NAVY! The most powerful fighting force on the planet. I sleep safe at night knowing he is keeping watch! Until we elect someone like Ron or Rand Paul, we will always be subject to the NWO mentality of our current politicians!

1 year ago
Reply to  Kurt

Zero wars under President Trump. Biden could put us on 2 fronts with hos weakness

1 year ago
Reply to  Kurt

We need to Trump it
No one else have the guts to Trump all this corrupt politicians

1 year ago

USA must defend itself if needed, but we should not go looking for a war. I remember many warnings telling the US not to go into Afghanistan & look at that history.

1 year ago

I am very disappointed in this AMAC newsletter. The USA should quit being policeman of the world & the idea is not to start wars. One of the Generals said “IT IS EASY TO GET INTO A WAR, THE HARD PART IS GETTING OUT”. This article is a slap in the face to our Pentagon & all military.

Harry Guzaliak
1 year ago
Reply to  johnh

A nation is only as good as it’s Military. Period!

Rick Adams
1 year ago

It’s not that the military doesn’t know how to win a war, it’s that the wars are ran by politicians. Let the people in the military run the war and it will be over in a very short time. If a politician has investments in war machinery, like Johnson did, the war has to last longer so that their stocks make more money for them.
The military leaders are concerned about their troops and their welfare. Politicians are not.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Adams

People such as General Milley; the advisor to Chi-com Joe in the withdrawal from Afghanistan? We need new blood at the top! We also need a genuine president and not this thing we have.

Willy E
1 year ago

IMHO: Our Military fighting forces aren’t the problem, our so-called leadership is. This was a very well written article, and I thank the author.

Our Federal government, through their so-called leadership being seriously impaired by the evil influences of the Chinese Communist Party that has infiltrated our entire country is the problem. Until We The People finally awaken, not woken, and stand up for this country and our Constitution, we will continue down this tube into the piles of excrement at the end of it. The stink is getting stronger by the day because the human excrement (agitprop and propaganda) is now running over the tops of our waders.

We are just pawns in a world wide game of chess, the masters being the ultra-wealthy of the world who pay the mercenaries who run the banks, the pharmaceuticals, medical systems, the educational systems, the warmongering industrialists who sell equipment to both sides, the organized religions and their cults, using all these different methods of stiring up hate and discontent in the world. Wars and riots are just their tools to keep the world roiled up and make outlandish profits from robbing the public until they are ready for their next holocaust to further reduce the population so they can more easily disarm and take over the planet.

This small group of power elites will then use the rest of the population as slaves and live in their proposed Socialist Utopia. We The People will be drugged and brainwashed to be “happy” with owning nothing and having rampant sex. We’ll be kept just sick enough to need Big Pharmas’ poisons, and just well enough to be able to work and feed and entertain the elites. Notice that Big Pharma never “cures” anything, they want to keep you needing “relief” from the symptoms over the many maladies they invent for you to suffer from. Profits are why we can’t get rid of illegal drugs as well, follow the money to see who is profiting, it’ll surprise you!

The Bio-weapons, like viruses with the dangerous experimental gene therapies now falsely called vaccines, now in use scare the hell out of people who don’t bother to research them by digging through government agencies like CDC and FDA, big tech socialist internet platforms, corrupt purchased medical experts, and main stream media censored data, and that’s why they keep on coming out with new variants to keep the scare alive. Who needs nuclear weapons that destroy the infrastructure and cause radiation problems for years when they have bio-weapons that are clean, non-destructive, and easily eradicated after the kills?

We fought England to get rid of control by a King and unfair taxes, we flourished as the greatest country the world has ever seen, and now they want to put us back under another King, and look at the taxes we now pay under a so-called free democracy! We used to be a Sovereign Republic until we went to sleep about 1860. Can we do it again? Not under Biden, Harris, Pelosi, and a corrupt Congress – go figure, if you still can!

Harry Guzaliak
1 year ago
Reply to  Willy E

I totally agree!

Ken Westenkirchner
1 year ago

With leaders (?) like Biden, kammellatoe, blinken, Austin

Edward Ludwig
1 year ago

As with any organization the military is only as good as its leaders and our military leader are to woke to even win a video game war. as for the everyday soldier on the ground is deficient because their leaders are deficient and our corrupt politicians have done fine job of destroying our forces when I was in the army we trained to win. After the Saigon debacle we tried to reverse the mistakes that were made. and Joe Biden shares responsibility for the botched withdrawal in Vietnam. he hasn’t learned a thing since.

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