Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

The Importance of Military and Strategic Planning

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Folks, I’ve been reading SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS by Andrew F. Krepinevich this week, and it’s a reminder that we need strategic and military planning as a country.  This is an especially timely reminder because we have three wars currently going on — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Libya — and if we don’t use our fighting forces wisely, we may as well kiss them good bye and save steps.

What Krepinevich does by postulating seven scenarios that could incapacitate the US of A (one being a pandemic, another the global collapse of the economy, the third an unexpected attack by China, and four others), military planners need to do in order to try to plan for the inevitable.  Planning exists for a reason; if we refuse to plan, we run the risk of having completely and totally unanticipated things happen.  Military “futurists” (as Krepinevich describes himself) try to anticipate things well in advance as best they can, then hope someone will learn from their scenarios so if these horrible things happen, we as a country won’t be caught flat-footed.

The most chilling things I learned from SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS are historical, however; from the introduction, I found out that military exercises in 1932 — yes, 1932! — showed the vulnerability of the United States at Pearl Harbor, yet the only thing the “games arbiter” did was to say that what the opposing forces in the war games did was “out of bounds” because they came in on Sunday, before dawn, and did something unprecedented. 

Let me say this again.  Everyone said when Pearl Harbor was hit, “How could this happen?  Why would anyone do this?  Especially in this way?  We didn’t see it coming!”  Yet the United States did have warning.  Their own people, at least a few of ’em, saw vulnerability in advance and yet they weren’t heeded.

Astonishing.

Then, in another historical incident, the German panzer battalions showed how quickly they could advance on a country or nation during war games exercises in 1937 — yet France did not pay enough attention (didn’t realize the blitzkrieg was coming for ’em) and felt in 1940 that they’d have many months to resist Hitler.  And were wrong, because as we all now know, France fell after only six weeks, then were under Hitler’s domination until the end of the war in 1945.

And finally, Lieutenant General (retired) Paul van Riper, in what was called the “Millenium Challenge,” found ways to exploit the vulnerability of our current high-tech military forces but was ignored — once again, the war games “arbiters” ruled what van Riper was doing was “out of bounds” and the rules were changed so the current high-tech military could win the Millenium Challenge for themselves.  And the lessons van Riper was trying to teach as commander of the “Red” (basically, he was aping the military capacity of Third World, mostly-Muslim countries, proving that low-tech does not equal stupid) were once again blown off.

Look.  I would prefer we didn’t have wars, much less three at once.  But since we do have wars, and it looks like we’ll always have a need for fighting men and women, we’d best start learning how to use our people effectively and learn from things like the Millenium Challenge rather than finding a way to make the current crop of military commanders feel good about their current forces — especially as I thought “self esteem” was not something military commanders were supposed to concern themselves with (most especially not their own self-esteem, such as when they rig war games to provide an outcome favorable for themselves as was most certainly explicated by anecdotal evidence by Krepinevich).

These SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS are scary, especially as there’s no conclusion to them — Krepinevich lays the stuff out there, then it just ends, almost as if the reader is placed into the Oval Office and must, for one moment, realize the burdens placed upon the Commander-in-Chief.  And they’re even scarier when you realize these scenarios must already be known or Krepinevich wouldn’t be talking about ’em; the ones that have been kept private must be even worse, and that is truly appalling indeed.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm

One Response

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  1. Its a great lesson to me as a student planner. Its very true that we need to plan in order to create awareness towards the unexpected situations.
    Have my compliment!

    Felix Darko

    February 16, 2017 at 3:22 pm


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