How universities can help in our wars
One of the fun things about doing this blog is coming across new people writing interesting books and doing other good work. Last week I highlighted Adrian Lewis’s terrific book The American Culture of War: The History of U.S. Military Force from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom. This week he is contributing a ...
One of the fun things about doing this blog is coming across new people writing interesting books and doing other good work. Last week I highlighted Adrian Lewis's terrific book The American Culture of War: The History of U.S. Military Force from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom. This week he is contributing a column about some of the work he is doing with disabled vets. (And for you conspiracy theorists, no, this was not some sort of set deal -- more just blundering around in the dark.)
One of the fun things about doing this blog is coming across new people writing interesting books and doing other good work. Last week I highlighted Adrian Lewis’s terrific book The American Culture of War: The History of U.S. Military Force from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom. This week he is contributing a column about some of the work he is doing with disabled vets. (And for you conspiracy theorists, no, this was not some sort of set deal — more just blundering around in the dark.)
By Adrian Lewis
Best Defense guest columnist
America’s universities are being grossly under-utilized by the Armed Forces of the United States in the persistent irregular war we are currently fighting in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world.
In this persistent, prolonged irregular war (IW), it is now well understood that traditional approaches to generating combat power are not enough. The combat power needed in irregular warfare cannot be generated by military forces alone. As a consequence we now talk about the "Whole of Government Approach." The services understand that a more holistic approach on the part of all government agencies is necessary. Agencies such as the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Defense Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Agriculture, and other such agencies have to be integrated into strategic and operational plans and into the execution of those plans to achieve IW objectives and improve operational effectiveness. These agencies have the education, talent, skills, and abilities that are not found in our Armed Forces, but are greatly needed in many developing regions. As a result of these changes and lessons learned the services are developing and integrating a new vocabulary that is common to the United Nations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other such agencies. Terms such as capacity building, comprehensive approach, interagency coordination, whole of government approach, security force assistance, conflict transformation, rule of law, fragile state, vulnerable state, crisis state, and other such terms are now being heard in the halls of the Command and General Staff College, the War Colleges, the service academies, and other military schools and training centers.
Still, another essential part of the equation for a comprehensive strategy to win irregular wars is to more fully employ the talents, skills, resources and educational capabilities of our major state universities. To succeed soldiers and Marines need language skills, cultural understanding of the peoples of the regions, historical understanding of the region and the wars the peoples that inhabit it have fought. They also need to learn how to think out of the military box that tends to confine their strategies and tactics. They need to utilize the scientists and researchers who understand environmental security issues, such as: deforestation, desertification, water redistribution and shortages, diminishing arable land, and other environmental problems that are frequently the primary source of war in developing countries.
Today the University of Kansas (KU) is working closely with the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to develop programs that enhance the education, and hence, the effectiveness of officers. KU, for example, has developed an Interagency Studies M.A. Program for Special Forces Officers and a Supply Chain Logistics and Management Program for Army logisticians. The first 16 Special Forces officers graduated this summer, and are now serving with various units and governmental agencies. KU also has a long history of producing Army Foreign Area Officers (FAO), soldiers who specialize in Russian and Eastern European Studies, or other areas. KU has centers for African Studies, Asian Studies, and other regions. KU teaches 41 languages. KU is employing some of its scientific resources to study water resource issues in Afghanistan. KU has worked with Senator Pat Roberts’ Office to secure grants to facilitate the relationship between the University and the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth. Still, we are only scratching the surface.
Additionally, America’s universities can help soldiers recover from wounds received in war. KU has a Wounded Warriors program that helps wounded soldiers earn an M.A. degree. When these soldiers graduate they return to the Army to teach or perform other significant duties. When an infantry soldier loses a leg to an IED, he has lost his military career. When that soldier graduates from KU, he has earned a new career.
These relationships and programs between the services and the University have the potential to improve the effectiveness of our Armed Forces. The problem is that the effort is too small. Our universities have enormous resources that can make significant contributions in our irregular wars, resources that can change people’s lives in developing and war torn countries. So much more can be done. The problems associated with globalization, global warming, and international terrorism are not going to go away. Sooner or later we are going to have to rely more heavily on our universities to provide solutions and resources to fix problems. Sooner is better than later.
Adrian R. Lewis, a former Army enlisted soldier and officer, is a professor of history at the University of Kansas and director of its Office of Professional Military Graduate Education.
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