When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

04 November 2007

The Department of Everything Else

As Ken Burns' fascinating documentary on World War II recently reminded us, nothing teaches like early failures in a long war. So as this global struggle against radical extremism unfolds, it's important to recognize progress where it occurs.

In my 2004 book, "The Pentagon's New Map," I argued that our military would inevitably split into a Leviathan-like combat force and a "system administrator" force optimized for everything else: postwar stabilization and reconstruction, nation-building, crisis response, and counter-insurgency.

The sysadmin's capabilities emerge today in response to America's lengthy postwar stints in Afghanistan and Iraq. A good example would be the new Army-Marine counter-insurgency manual that argues for less "kinetics" ( i.e., blowing stuff up) and more effort in economic development and political capacity building. A long slog? You bet. But that's how our military finally overcomes the Vietnam syndrome.

Thomas P.M. Barnett: How our military evolves in this long war

(To learn about the Department of Everything Else, keep reading.)

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