Our cover story this month touches a nerve that has pulsated, barely hidden, through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: The health and robustness of our civil-military relations. Public support for the troops remains strong, but there is a sense through these wars of a growing isolation between the military and the society it serves, as Lt. Col. Paul Yingling puts it. Paul, of course, is a familiar name to AFJ readers because of his seminal article “A Failure in Generalship” [AFJ, May 2007] that sparked debate within and outside the armed forces. Here, his finger points at Congress and the American public, and he finds them failing their constitutional wartime duties.
Paul is joined by regular AFJ author Joe Collins, a retired Army colonel and National War College professor, who debates whether the perceived crisis in civil-military relations is the symptom of a widening gap or — more optimistically — of the natural struggle between these two communities as they negotiate their wartime roles.
There’s more good material for thought from American Security Project senior fellow Bernard Finel, who challenges the current vogue for seeing counterinsurgency as a global cure-all and argues that U.S. conventional capabilities can achieve the same goals and at lower cost.
In a pair of perspectives, Gene Meyers and Scott Hamilton analyze what the fuss over fifth-generation fighter aircraft is about — what defines fifth-gen, who needs them and why?
In our continuing series examining what the next combat vehicle should look like, Maj. Joe Ewers gives his perspective from the point of view of an infantryman with experience in Iraq with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle — a great vehicle, he says, but also a great example of how you can’t have it all.
2009 ended grimly with the November Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead and the Christmas Day attempt to bomb a U.S. commercial plane. Lt. Col. Eugenia Guilmartin, an Army military police officer who has written studies on domestic terrorism, describes a predictive model she developed to flag up so-called “lone wolves,” a description that might apply to the individuals accused of the Fort Hood murders and the thwarted plane bombing.
Pete Brookes, meanwhile, looks at the new attention being focused on Yemen, from where the would-be plane bomber started his journey, as a potential breeding ground for terrorists.