Along came 9/11. And as you know, famously we went from sort of the traditional
template, back to the Powell doctrine, and then realized that what – that the – what
confronted us in those two theaters was really a counterinsurgency. And so we dusted off
counterinsurgency doctrine. It was – it was updated by the Army and the Marine Corps.
And we embraced the counterinsurgency doctrine.
So says the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Q&A following a talk at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (linked to by Tom Ricks). General Dempsey, CJCS, former CSA and Commander, TRADOC, conflates counterinsurgency doctrine as an alternative to the Powell Doctrine. Our top military leader seems to believe that a set of operational and tactical principles by which military forces guide their actions in support of national objectives is an alternative to a set of questions designed to help guide strategic decision-making, specifically decision-making to determine whether or not to employ military force. It boggles my mind that a general officer could think that the Powell Doctrine is some sort of operational doctrine. (Or conversely, that counterinsurgency doctrine is involved in strategic decision-making - but he seems to be saying Powell Doctrine = operational doctrine.)
I hope that General Dempsey merely misspoke, wasn't feeling well, or just fumbled his answer to a (softball) question. I hope that's the case as otherwise we might be in trouble as the force resets and reorients.