Is doctrine too rigid for the adaptive thinking needed to win the war we fight today, or did decades of relative peace cause us to drift from war-fighting fundamentals? This debate over doctrine spearheads this month’s AFJ.
Leading off the discussion is retired Col. Robert Killebrew, whose 30 years of Army service spanned two combat tours in Vietnam, a principal deputyship at Training and Doctrine Command and an assignment as an instructor at the Army War College. Bob reminds us that the guiding principles of sound doctrine never change and are worth revisiting for any and all fights.
Army Lt. Cols. John Nagl and Paul Yingling, meanwhile, bring firsthand experience in Iraq to the debate, arguing that existing doctrine may too inflexible for modern warfare. Both have served in Iraq — Paul as effects coordinator with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, where he is now deputy commander. John, a military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense, is a welcome return contributor to AFJ.
And Air Force command pilot Lt. Col. Skip Hinman looks to history for lessons on air power tenets that are better suited to “small wars”. Skip has almost 3,000 flying hours, including piloting F-117s and A-10s, and has authored many publications that are required reading at Army, Marine Corps and Air Force colleges.
Doctrine also surfaces in Ralph Peters’ examination of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, which he observed firsthand in August. His typical laser-sharp commentary suggests that Hezbollah conceived a battlefield doctrine superbly suited to its strategic goals.
Our second Perspective column takes up the debate sparked by AFJ’s September cover article by Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr. — “Air power, America’s asymmetric advantage.” The article provoked a number of letters, which can be read at www.ArmedForcesJournal.com but also a longer response from Joseph Collins, a professor at the National War College and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations. Debate at this level goes to the heart of what AFJ was redesigned to achieve.
Tom Donnelly, meanwhile, leads our arts and review section with an essay that looks back to history’s last, faith-fueled long war, the Thirty Years’ War. After steering the “new AFJ” through its first year, Tom is now a Fellow at the Center for Strategic International Studies, but his elegant writing will continue to grace our pages. With this issue, Karen Walker, who has worked with Tom as AFJ managing editor for the past year, takes the helm as editor. Write her and share your thoughts about the magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.