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Don't Break the Bank with COIN: Re-setting U.S. Defense Strategy after Iraq and Afghanistan

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Journal article

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First, I will examine the fiscal costs of executing the Iraq and Afghanistan COIN campaigns. Additionally, I will look at the opportunity costs -- what elements of the existing national defense strategy the United States had to forego or curtail to marshal the necessary resources to execute those COIN campaigns. Secondly, I will attempt to make the case that in light of the looming economic trends for the United States, it is not fiscally feasible for the U.S. military to sustain the standing forces required to execute COIN campaigns, nor is it fiscally feasible to deploy and employ those forces in protracted COIN campaigns. Ultimately, I am endeavoring to add value to the dialogue on Americas future national defense strategy. This thesis will attempt to convince the reader that spending an inordinate amount of resources in executing a relatively narrow segment of our national defense interests -- COIN -- will undermine Americas future national security. It is against the canvas of this larger fiscal backdrop that the author offers the following prescriptions for re-setting U.S. national defense strategy. Consistent with the definition of strategy in part II of this thesis, the prescriptions will be focused on the ends, ways, and means of U.S. national defense strategy 1 Redeploy U.S. military forces to approximately match their pre-911 global posture 2 Reconsider returning to the 1-4-2-1 strategic planning construct 3 Re-balance the DoD investment portfolio 4 Reduce the end strength of the services to pre-911 levels -- and beyond 5 Review the affordability of U.S. military operational concepts and 6 Re-write FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency doctrine to balance the interaction of ends, ways, and means.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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