Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

DePuy (IV): And keep the U.S. out of inconclusive, two-administration wars

Here’s another thought from Gen. William DePuy about the lessons of the Vietnam War. I was especially struck by his observation, made in 1987, about trying to continue a war beyond one administration, which made me realize how difficult it must be for President Obama to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan: Prudent military planners should ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Here's another thought from Gen. William DePuy about the lessons of the Vietnam War. I was especially struck by his observation, made in 1987, about trying to continue a war beyond one administration, which made me realize how difficult it must be for President Obama to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan:

Prudent military planners should draw the obvious conclusion that operations which span two administrations may lose their support in midstream. Very short operations like Grenada are about perfect. Long inconclusive operations like Vietnam are now known to be doomed. We may take this to be a legitimate consideration in connection with the doctrine governing operational art. It is a political refinement which is no less organic to the problem.

(From p. 399, Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy)

Here’s another thought from Gen. William DePuy about the lessons of the Vietnam War. I was especially struck by his observation, made in 1987, about trying to continue a war beyond one administration, which made me realize how difficult it must be for President Obama to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan:

Prudent military planners should draw the obvious conclusion that operations which span two administrations may lose their support in midstream. Very short operations like Grenada are about perfect. Long inconclusive operations like Vietnam are now known to be doomed. We may take this to be a legitimate consideration in connection with the doctrine governing operational art. It is a political refinement which is no less organic to the problem.

(From p. 399, Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy)

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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