"Advocates of the president’s strategy say that we do not need that human capital or expertise in ground operations because we will never again fight wars that put large numbers of our soldiers at risk. Technology, they say, will make future wars precise, rapid and decisive. We have heard this argument many times since the Cold War ended, from George W. Bush as enthusiastically as Bill Clinton. Yet every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has ordered tens of thousands of troops into ground combat. Obama himself sent 70,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed abroad to wars or peacekeeping operations for 38 of the past 70 years — and nearly continuously since 1989. The argument that next time will be different is unpersuasive." Fred Kagan
Fred Kagan wants a foreign policy of aggressive overseas deployments and COIN wars like the ones he favored in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his oped piece cited here he uses absurd terms like "never again." No one makes that claim. The ral question has to do with "when" and "how big." As for Obama's decision to send a lot more troops to Afghanistan, Kagan was a direct influence in that mistaken decision.
National strategy dictates foreign policy which dictates military strategy which dictates programming and budgeting. Obama's newly announced military strategy is reflective of a new foreign policy, one that implictly rejects massive pacification projects (COIN wars) involving the large ground forces needed to hold the subject population down while COIN works its magic over some decades.
In the new strategy COIN is not dicarded. It is merely reduced to a technique useful in small conflicts at reduced cost.
The other large purpose for big ground forces would be the prospect of conventional ground wars against big, capable armies. Where are the enemies of this type that are likely to be adversaries for the United States. Where? Europe? Asia? Africa? This seems implausible.
Kagan says he wants us to have large ground forces that will serve as "incubators" for leadership for the big ground wars that we are unlikely to have. His paradigm implies a continuing commitment to large scale combat situations. His own logic rejects the idea that peacetime experience "grows" the kind of leadership that he wants to see.
Small ground acions are likely to continue around the peripheries of the oceans or in SOF situations but big ground wars are, for the US, a matter of choice, not necessity.
Kagan and his neocon "brothers" and their familiars are unhappy with the new strategy because it represent a foreign policy that rejects the neocon vision. pl