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06 April, 2009

Remaking the Pentagon for the 21st Century

Remaking the Pentagon for the 21st Century

By Douglas Farah

It is clear that the current debate over the future configuration of the military is a divisive and extremely important one. While Secretary Gates, bowing to the budget realities of the Obama administration, is cutting programs while moving toward a stronger focus on irregular warfare and special forces,the clear resolution to the debate is that both sides have considerable merit. Some common ground must be found, and it is a question of focus, not a question of either or. The recent North Korean missile challenge also serves as a reminder that traditional state actors and threats cannot be ignored. There is no doubt that non-state armed groups are occupying more space around the globe, both in areas of obvious strategic concern to the United States, and those that may not seem to be of particular concern but contribute to overall instability. Most of these groups are irregular, fragmented and more similar to the movements in Afghanistan/Pakistan than regular movements. While it is often difficult to see the specific security challenge these groups pose, the overarching threat of radical Islamists operating in this manner is not. All the major Islamist terrorist attacks against the United States (1998 US Embassy bombings in East Africa, 2000 USS Cole, 9/11) were all carried out by a non-state actor operating from what was conventionally described as a failed state (Afghanistan). That threat was underestimated by successive administrations, and the price paid has been horrific. But the groups that will form the most pressing threats in the future, I believe, will be modeled on Hezbollah, able to mass troops, deploy advanced weapons systems and fight for territory, while remaining outside of direct state control. My full blog is here. April 6, 2009 03:48 PM Link Print

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