Military Strategy Magazine - Volume 8, Issue 1

Volume 8, Issue 1, Summer 2022 15 exhaustion that can transcend administrations, sap political will and resources, and compromise political agendas such as President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Program in the 1960s, nearly as much as large-scale operations. They are often characterized as low-intensity conflicts, but they are rarely low-intensity efforts. Furthermore, FM 3-24 fails to make use of recent academic research on insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. An example includes Small Wars and Big Data byEli Berman and Jacob Shapiro.[viii] Admittedly, keeping up with academic research can be difficult, particularly when it deals with topics as controversial as the debate over the effectiveness of counterinsurgency methods proved to be. The research itself, if conducted properly, requires time. Publishing the results of the research, regardless of the outlet, requires yet more time, and academic findings can often be refuted or inconclusive. Moreover, the falsifiable hypothesis, a scientific method made popular by Karl Popper in the 1950s and 1960s, only arrives at a defensible answer or answers by systematically reducing the population of plausible answers to as few as possible.[ix] As scholars are aware, that approach, while better than its antecedent, positivismwhich relies heavily on induction, is not foolproof. Falsification itself has limitations rooted in our ability to identify the population of plausible answers with confidence. Despite such difficulties, and the fundamental problem of understanding what knowledge is and howwe obtain it, the US military must actively engage academic research and incorporate it into its body of expert knowledge. The expert knowledge of military professionals, which is essential to the direction of wars, serves too important a function not to do so. In addition, Insurgencies and Countering Insurgencies, FM 3-24 does not describe how to initiate an insurgency against an adversary such as Russia or China, despite suggesting such in its title. The rationale for this omission is that instigating an insurgency is not a mission for the US Army or the US Marine Corps, but rather for US Special Forces. However, this justification is unacceptable as it leads to yet another “knowledge stovepipe,” which only serves to reinforce the seams and boundaries in US (and other Western) military structures that so-called hybrid warfare and gray-zone operations have sought to exploit. Moreover, Western militaries will seldom have enough special forces to accomplish such missions on the scale likely required in a major conflict. Hence, responsibility for, and knowledge of, such missions must be broadly shared with general purpose troops. It should be self-evident, moreover, that learning how to initiate an insurgency goes a long way toward educating military professionals how to defeat one. III. Defining Battle versus War US Army doctrine essentially defines war as battle writ large. While progress toward a more holistic definition of war has been made in the US Army’s recent doctrinal publications, the earlier battle-focus remains strongly evident throughout. ADP 1-01 (2019), for instance, defines war as “socially sanctioned violence to achieve a political purpose.”[x] This is an instrumentalist definition, which relates to war’s larger utility, and it provides a useful, if problematic, starting point. Armed conflict in the current strategic environment remains a social activity involving the use of violence to achieve a political purpose; however, it is increasingly less true that war is “socially sanctioned.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 is a case in point. It was not sanctioned by any responsible member of the international community, nor by those portions of the Russian public which protested it. What’s more, evidence suggests attitudes about whether war is ever a legitimate recourse have been shifting toward the negative for some time.[xi] As a minimum, the wording in ADP 1-01 must be modified. But more importantly, the expert knowledge of theUSmilitaryprofessionmust be adjusted to accommodate the growing belief that resorting to force is not necessarily a legitimate course of action; ergo, military personnel may find it increasingly difficult to recommend certain courses of action or to claim professional status at all. IncontrasttoADP1-01’sattempttoprovideaninstrumentalist definition, ADP 6-22, C1 (2019) offers an experientialist definition by referring to war as a “lethal clash of wills and an inherently human endeavor that requires perseverance, sacrifice, and tenacity.”[xii] This definition resembles that found in ADP 3-0 (2017), which states war is a “chaotic, lethal, and a fundamentally human endeavor … a clash of wills fought among and between people.” It goes on to say, “All war is inherently about changing human behavior … by force of arms.” And it stresses the fact that “human context,” as influenced by culture, economics, and history, is critical to understanding an enemy’s will.[xiii] These reflect experientialist definitions, meaning they highlight what it feels like to be engaged in battle, rather than war. Obviously, armed conflict can be both an instrument capable of being used by political leaders in multiple ways and a uniquely dangerous and debilitating experience for those directly involved in the fighting. The point, therefore, is that the US Army’s professional knowledge should give equal time to both definitions, as both do capture essential and salient characteristics of armed conflict. Military personnel must understand they are instruments of the political regimes to which they belong, their efforts might not be socially sanctioned andmay instead be roundly condemned, and the judgment of all concerned will be affected by fear, the fog of uncertainty, and other sociocultural forces. IV. Conclusions Even after nearly twenty years and two major campaigns, the US Army still has a way of battle rather than a way of war. That is not to say the US Army, or its partners in The Persistence of America’s Way of Battle Antulio J. Echevarria II