Accession Number:

ADA509111

Title:

War's Second Grammar

Descriptive Note:

Miscellaneous publication

Corporate Author:

ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2009-10-01

Pagination or Media Count:

3.0

Abstract:

With the publication of FM 3-24MCWP 3-33.5, Counterinsurgency, the U.S. military officially embraced a second grammar of war. As an official statement of counterinsurgency doctrine, these manuals have received their share of criticism and praise, neither of which will be repeated here. Instead, the purpose of this opinion piece is to suggest that, no matter how different wars second grammar is from its first, it is still a grammar. To be sure, holding true to good grammar contributes immensely to favorable outcomes in war. However, even an exquisite grammar cannot save a dubious logic nor can it encompass all factors that contribute to military success. As Clausewitz aptly declared, war has its own grammar but not its own logic. This short and familiar phrase conveys more than the casual reader might appreciate. The prevailing assumption is that there is only one grammar worth worrying about because there is only one kind of war that matters. For his part, Clausewitz did not use the plural form of the noun grammar, though he clearly recognized, albeit somewhat later in life, that there was more than one kind of war, and that all of them mattered in some way. Indeed, the rising human, economic, and political costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan validate this perspective. If small wars are this expensive, who can afford big ones

Subject Categories:

  • Linguistics
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE