Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld may be leaving under a cloud of criticism over his handling of the Iraq war, but his invasion plan — emphasizing speed over massive troop numbers — has consistently been held up as a resounding success.
Yet with Iraq near chaos 3 1/2 years later, a key Army manual now is being rewritten in a way that rejects the Rumsfeld doctrine and counsels against using it again.
The draft version of the Army's Full Spectrum Operations field manual argues that in addition to defeating the enemy, military units must focus on providing security for the population — even during major combat.
"The big idea here is that stability tasks have to be a consideration at every level and every operation," said Clinton J. Ancker III, head of the Army's Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate and an author of the guide.
There is nothing inherently wrong with an approach that calls for a greater reliance on technology, and only as many troops as it takes to defeat the enemy speedily and handily. But a war-fighting strategy must be tailored to the particular conflict that it is being developed for, and Rumsfeld's aproach was never appropriate for Iraq. The only reason it was utilized as the strategy in Iraq was because it also conveniently allowed the Bush administration to claim that the war wouldn't require hundreds of thousands of soldiers and the occupation would be concluded in a matter of months. It was the "right" strategy at the "right" time, but in truth it never reflected more than political expediency.