"Winnefeld said the nation would probably not need an Army sized to do any large-scale, long-duration ground operations. The admiral did not only downplay the possibility of prolonged counterinsurgencies like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Vietnam, although he certainly emphasized the decline of COIN: He raised doubt about long wars of any kind. “We’ve seen very recently that the American people are very wary of getting into an extended war of any type,” Winnefeld said, in a veiled reference to Syria. “We should take to heart three principles that [Maj. Gen.] Fox Conner imparted to Eisenhower and Marshall when they were both young officers: never fight unless you have to, never fight alone, and never fight for long.”" Freedberg
Well, well, well. At last we have some rational thought expressed with regard to the future of US arms.
This is a death sentence for the very flawed COIN doctrine. That will go down hard with a lot of the hard heads who have spent the last ten years trying to absorb COIN as a new and wonderful thought. About five years ago I ran a conference on tribalism as a factor in warfare in the modern age. Among the guests was a young army brigadier general who had a staff job in which he was responsible for thinking great thoughts about the future. He was rebuked by several attendees for the slowness of army adaptation to counter-guerrilla operations in Iraq. He replied that "they" had been working on this problem from a doctrinal point of view for six years and that they could not be expected to proceed more rapidly than that. Most successful army officers are by nature not good at the "vision thing." They are intelligent but not able by temperament to deal with futures that they have not seen. They will have a hard time giving up all the silliness contained on the Army/Marine Corps manual on COIN. You know that book. It is the Petraeus masterpiece. Ten years hence they will have settled into some other corpus of received wisdom but the transition will be painful. It will be something like the long, sad, farewell to the horse.
The R2P folks and the neocons will try to fight this change but history and money are forces that will block their efforts. pl