February 15, 2006


America's Long War: Last week US defence chiefs unveiled their plan for battling global Islamist extremism. They envisage a conflict fought in dozens of countries and for decades to come. Today we look in detail at this seismic shift in strategic thinking, and what it will mean for Britain (Simon Tisdall and Ewen MacAskill, February 15, 2006, The Guardian)

The report sets out a plan for prosecuting what the the Pentagon describes in the preface as "The Long War", which replaces the "war on terror". The long war represents more than just a linguistic shift: it reflects the ongoing development of US strategic thinking since the September 11 attacks.

Looking beyond the Iraq and Afghan battlefields, US commanders envisage a war unlimited in time and space against global Islamist extremism. "The struggle ... may well be fought in dozens of other countries simultaneously and for many years to come," the report says. The emphasis switches from large-scale, conventional military operations, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, towards a rapid deployment of highly mobile, often covert, counter-terrorist forces.

Among specific measures proposed are: an increase in special operations forces by 15%; an extra 3,700 personnel in psychological operations and civil affairs units - an increase of 33%; nearly double the number of unmanned aerial drones; the conversion of submarine-launched Trident nuclear missiles for use in conventional strikes; new close-to-shore, high-speed naval capabilities; special teams trained to detect and render safe nuclear weapons quickly anywhere in the world; and a new long-range bomber force.

The Pentagon does not pinpoint the countries it sees as future areas of operations but they will stretch beyond the Middle East to the Horn of Africa, north Africa, central and south-east Asia and the northern Caucasus.

The cold war dominated the world from 1946 to 1991: the long war could determine the shape of the world for decades to come. The plan rests heavily on a much higher level of cooperation and integration with Britain and other Nato allies, and the increased recruitment of regional governments through the use of economic, political, military and security means. It calls on allies to build their capacity "to share the risks and responsibilities of today's complex challenges".

The Pentagon must become adept at working with interior ministries as well as defence ministries, the report says. It describes this as "a substantial shift in emphasis that demands broader and more flexible legal authorities and cooperative mechanisms ... Bringing all the elements of US power to bear to win the long war requires overhauling traditional foreign assistance and export control activities and laws."

The Cold War was ultimately won by rhetoric as much as by the Soviets' inability to compete militarily. It should be even easier to defeat Islamicism because, unlike Communism, no one considers it feasible in the first place, not even Western intellectuals.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2006 7:59 AM

All these things are already happening.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 15, 2006 8:08 AM

Although the enemy adheres to a death cult and believes that God commands them to employ the methods of localized terror. They are medieval in their outlook, millenialists with nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct, at February 15, 2006 8:22 AM

Fought for many years in dozens of countries? Um, I hate to say this, but I knew that back on September 11, 2001.

Posted by: Mikey at February 15, 2006 8:41 AM

Bush prrtty much said the same thing in his speech to Congress a week after 9/11. But apparently, some folks heard the words and didn't take them to heart, and really think if we just kill bin Laden, declare VbL Day, complete with big celebration in Times Square, the War on Terror will officially be over (there are some on the left out there who really believe that, as opposed to those who know the WOT will take years, but think attacking Bush on the issue can win their votes and power before it would have any negative effect on U.S. security).

Posted by: John at February 15, 2006 9:08 AM

The problem is that, because the libs themselves know that the Islamists are not feasible in the first place, that they are easy to manage and can be easily defeated if the need arises. Its not that they don't have confidence in the hard power of the United states: they just want to CONTROL it. The ultimate expression of power over a military is for THEM to say, "Do not shoot back when shot at."

Posted by: Ptah at February 15, 2006 9:46 AM

Gee, you would thing that our military is the best educated, most advanced degreed in our history. Ditto the NCO corps. Not to mention the military has and does produce more foreign linguist that all of Americas universities combined. That Special Forces and military assistance units do 10 times as much well drilling, medical, veterinary than the all those Peace Corps volunteers with their lit degrees. You'd think that legions of Military Intelligence, Special Forces Warrant Officers, CIA, NSA, others unknown, in place on the ground might know, or getting to know, what they are doing. You'ld think that there is an unbroken chain through supply, training and command to support this. A chain that is self critical, flexible, innovative willing to cast aside the old and ineffective.

But I don't. I'm with the airheads of the MSM. People who couldn't change a tire if their lives depended upon it. That's who I trust with my family, my children. Yes sir'ee. A sloppy, we've been here in Bahluckaluckstan for a day and are now experts, sending their ignorant pap though filters of leftist latte sipping, The Nation reading editors, and dumping their breathless fiction on us.

OK, sarcasm off.

This is good news. But these f**kers, as we drain the swamp and corner them will get desperate and innovative. There's one big bright burning flame that resides in all of their heads, and that's getting one or more nuclear weapons. They masqueraded as regular strip club going, beer drinking pilots. Somewhere they are quiet engineers and scientist, working with out reveling themselves. Waiting and planning.

Posted by: Paul from Florida at February 15, 2006 10:33 AM