An unconventional era of warfare requires unconventional thinkers. That is because this era’s range of security challenges, from global terrorism to ethnic conflicts, from rogue nations to rising powers, cannot be overcome by traditional military means alone. Conflict will be fundamentally political in nature and will require the integration of all elements of national power [Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic]. Success, to a large extent, will depend less on imposing one’s will on the enemy or putting bombs on targets, though we must never lose our ability or our will to unsheathe the sword when necessary. Instead, ultimate success or failure will increasingly depend more on shaping the behavior of others, friends and adversaries, and most importantly, the people in between.
Every attempt to change the behavior of fence-sitters and insurgent-supportive elements in the domestic target audience turns to shit. To even utter the unpalatable truth that there are indeed oppositional elements within the polity who see political advantage in American defeat evokes howls of spittle-flecked invective from the usual suspects, causing most counterinsurgent-supportive types to recoil in disgust and give up any attempt at rational discussion with such people.
I don’t foresee many nails following Secretary Gates’ request standing up to be hammered. I’m beginning to think truly unconventional political warfare is beyond the capability of anybody on the inside. Unless they cover their tracks really well.