Pentagon guru Michael Vickers is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, but he’s much more than just a top counterinsurgency expert. For over a year his office’s portfolio has included advising on the full range of integrated capabilities for force application – Pentagon-speak for nearly everything the military does, from nuclear missions to special ops.
Reporters quizzed him last Thursday on Afghanistan. Vickers thinks the key metric for victory there is how well Afghan National Security Forces can suppress the insurgency and provide security for the Afghan people. But he also had two insights on the new direction for DoD. First, stop preparing for imaginary conflicts. Second, the Pentagon really does see persistent, irregular warfare as the top threat for the next three decades.
As a global power, America could get involved nearly anywhere, which is why it’s risky to prejudge the location or nature of the next conflict over such a long time span. Still it’s hard not to admire the heartfelt statement of Vickers: “It would be nice to win the wars we’re in,” he said.
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