Friday, May 03, 2013

Adaptation During Wartime: The Case of the Marines in Iraq

From 2000 until 2007, I was colleagues with Richard Schultz at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.   My Fletcher colleagues are often quoted in the news.  When I read their quotes, it makes me flash back to good days.   Today, the WSJ reviewed Schultz's new book.   Here is a quote from the review;

"The Marines deserve a large share of the credit for turning around a war that had been all but lost. Along the way, they relearned hard truths about counterinsurgency campaigns—that wars among the people aren't won by technology alone; that it is essential to understand the languages, culture and history of the people among whom one fights; that building competent local forces is the way out of counterinsurgency operations like the continuing one in Afghanistan.
Mr. Schulz is absolutely correct in describing the Anbar campaign as a "textbook example of how Marines—true to their organizational culture—learned, adapted, and prevailed over a murderous, cold-blooded foe." This victory was impossible to imagine when I was fighting in Anbar nine years ago, but today Drill Instructors at Parris Island are already shouting marching cadences to Marine recruits that celebrate those who led the fight in Anbar. It thus joins a long list of tough battles in which the Marine Corps demonstrated not just its legendary faithfulness but also its flexibility."
In this age of celebration of the low risk drone attacks, this emphasis on "hearts and minds" is related to important empirical work being done by UCSD's Eli Berman and his co-authors.  

Switching subjects,  for all of you seeking to be more productive, happier people --- I suggest listening to this music.