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The key question generals should ask presidents and other officials: ‘What next?’

That is, I think, the key question in military planning, especially at the strategic level. What are we trying to do, and what do we think the consequences will be?  I think what we need are generals who are willing to ask that question (as General Mattis was) and presidents and other senior officials who ...

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via Wikimedia

That is, I think, the key question in military planning, especially at the strategic level. What are we trying to do, and what do we think the consequences will be? 

I think what we need are generals who are willing to ask that question (as General Mattis was) and presidents and other senior officials who are willing to hear it. 

I thought of this when I got this note from Christopher Tucker, who has given me permission to quote it here: "Iraq no longer exists, and will never exist again. Same with Syria. And, that is OK. Until we (the United States) resolve ourselves to those truths, we will fail to act strategically. History moves forward, not backward."

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.

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