Summary: There are rumors of change coming to our military, after two decades of failed wars showing that we desperately need it. New leadership is needed. The appointment by Trump of Douglas Macgregor to a senior role would be a powerful step to reform, because people are policy.
“I have always been fond of the West African proverb ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.'”
— Teddy Roosevelt in a letter to Henry L. Sprague, 26 January 1900. Good advice for America.
For the past 18 years, America has involved itself in the civil wars of nations around the world. The next phase of this is United States Africa Command (Africom) involving us in Africa’s endless internal conflicts. The cost to us in money and blood has been immense. The rewards to America have been few. The theoretical justification for it, the doctrine known as COIN (counter-insurgency), has been proven specious (as was obvious from the start). We can no more “fix” failed states than we have been able to “fix” America’s inner cities.
There are some signs that this madness is passing. The US Marine Corps might be resuming and completing its transition from a second-generation military force (2GW, WWI methods) to a third-generation force (3GW, maneuver warfare). The surge of senior commanders being relieved for cause shows a return to accountability that must accompany any serious reform movement. But however promising, no reforms take root without new leadership. People are policy.
There are rumors that Trump might appoint Douglas Macgregor (Colonel, US Army, retired) to a senior post in his national defense team. That would be great news. Macgregor advocates having a strong military applied to its traditional role of keeping America safe. That means protecting the borders and deterring military adventures by other major powers. This strategy has served America well, when we have applied it.
To learn about his views, see his website, Future Defense Visions. Here are some of his articles, advice that America should heed.
- “A Radical Plan for Cutting the Defense Budget and Reconfiguring the U.S. Military” in Foreign Policy, April 2011 – Total savings: $279.5 billion.
- “Five Rules for Defense Spending” at Breaking Defense, January 2015.
- About the Army’s next spending binge: “Why Are We Buying The Army’s Big Six? What Will They Do?” at Breaking Defense, June 2018 – “The last time the US Army tried to modernize it spent $20 billion buying the Future Combat System, which was canceled as it foundered. Is the Army repeating the same mistakes with its Big Six?”
- A bold harsh question: “Mr. President, who’s really in charge of our defense?” at The Hill, November 2018 – “No one in the senior ranks has the experience to prepare him or her for war with the Russian or Chinese armed forces, let alone defending Southern border with Mexico from the lawlessness and violence sweeping into America.”
- “Warns against US involvement in Venezuela” on Hill TV’s “Rising”, January 2019 – “Whenever we go into these countries in Latin America, we create enormous bad blood and we create refugee flows.”
- “Why Do We Fight? How Do We Fight?” at The American Conservative, May 2019 – “The military spends billions on programs and missions that have no basis in reality. This is why we fail, again and again.”
- “John Bolton is the problem” at The Spectator, May 2019 – “Trump’s national security adviser is getting dangerous, particularly to the president’s ideals.”
About Douglas Macgregor (Colonel, US Army, retired)
He was commissioned in the US Army in 1976 after one year at VMI and four years at West Point. In 1987 he received a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in international relations. He retired as a Colonel in 2004 after a distinguished career with notable successes as a squadron operations officer in the Battle of 73 Easting during the Gulf War and as a planner and leader of other operations. In 1991, he was awarded the bronze star with “V” device for valor under fire.
He is a strong advocate for reform of the US Army, which froze his career. Events in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven that was correct about the need for fundamental change in the US military. See his Wikipedia entry for details.
Now he is an Executive Vice President of Burke-Macgregor Group LLC, a consulting and intellectual capital brokerage firm.
Macgregor has testified as an expert witness on national security issues before the House Armed Services and House Foreign Relations Committee. He is a frequent guest commentator on radio and television. His books have influenced the Army’s strategy and tactics.
- The Soviet-East German Military Alliance (1989) – His doctoral dissertation, published by Cambridge University Press (1989).
- Breaking the Phalanx: A New Design for Landpower in the 21st Century (1997).
- Transformation Under Fire: Revolutionizing How America Fights (2003).
- Warrior’s Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting (2009) – About the US Army’s largest tank battle since World War II.
- Margin of Victory: Five Battles That Changed the Face of Modern War (2016).
See his tweets at @MacgregorDoug. And especially see these posts about his work…
- What does the future hold for the US Army – and America?
- A look at our military threats – and at our greatest foe.
- Wouldn’t it be great to win a war, occasionally?
See Macgregor’s latest book
Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War.
See my post about it. Also, see the publisher’s description…
“In Margin of Victory Douglas Macgregor tells the riveting stories of five military battles of the twentieth century, each one a turning point in history. Beginning with the British Expeditionary force holding the line at the Battle of Mons in 1914 and concluding with the Battle of Easting in 1991 during Desert Storm, Margin of Victory teases out a connection between these battles and teaches its readers an important lesson about how future battles can be won.
“Emphasizing military strategy, force design, and modernization, Macgregor links each of these seemingly isolated battles thematically. At the core of his analysis, the author reminds the reader that to be successful, military action must always be congruent with national culture, geography, and scientific-industrial capacity. He theorizes that strategy and geopolitics are ultimately more influential than ideology. Macgregor stresses that if nation-states want to be successful, they must accept the need for and the inevitability of change.
“The five warfighting dramas in this book, rendered in vivid detail by lively prose, offer many lessons on the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war.”