Challenging Transformation's Cliches
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
Pagination or Media Count:
Much of the dialogue concerning military transformation in the United States employs a number of popular, but hitherto unchallenged cliches. Cliches and catchwords are merely handy ways of capturing and conveying truths. Unsubstantiated cliches, however, can masquerade as truths and, unless exposed in time, ultimately prove costly and harmful to policy. This monograph examines five of the more popular cliches, or myths, found in transformation literature today. That they continue to gain currency in the dialogue suggests that we need to examine our accepted truths more regularly. The first cliche is that military transformation is about changing to be better prepared for the future, as if we had only one future for which to prepare. In truth, transformation is more about the present than the future. The second cliche is that strategic uncertainty is greater today than it was during the Cold War. Unfortunately, this view overstates the amount of certainty that existed then and exaggerates the level of uncertainty in evidence today. We should not forget the amount of uncertainty that clouded conflicts in Korea, Indochina, the Middle East, and northern Africa, as well as the invasion of Hungary in 1956, the Cuban missile crisis of 1963, the Suez crisis of 1973, and the many tense moments that attended the collapse of the Soviet Union. The third cliche is that mental transformation is the most difficult part of any effort to change. Actually, the most difficult part of transformation is the complex task of managing the change itself. The fourth cliche is that imagination and creative thinking are critical for any successful transformation. While these qualities certainly are important, they are only vital when the effort is open-ended, or in its early stages. Finally, the last cliche is that militaries tend to transform slowly, or not at all, because they like to refight the last war, rather than prepare for the next one.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics