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  • Stu Scheller

Afghanistan Evacuation: Political Strategy Disconnected With The Military Reality

This Afghanistan evacuation is a succinct example of a political strategy disconnected with the military reality on the ground. The breakdown between strategy and tactics is the single reason our military continues failing. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam are the most common examples. Other engagements in Syria, Libya, Beirut, Somalia, and Kosovo had the same underlying problem.


Following the Afghanistan evacuation, General McKenzie stated he withdrew military troops before evacuating American citizens because an evacuation had to be ordered by the Department of State. This is a shining example of a breakdown between agencies.


Up to this point in history, the United States remains complacent, with multiple government agencies pursuing foreign policy (a country’s strategy for dealing with other countries) in redundant and overlapping ways. It is a testament to the natural advantages of the United States that at the operational level of foreign policy (occurs when two or more government agencies coordinate below the National Security Council level to achieve strategic objectives), there currently is not even a consistent regional map between various government agencies.

This unsynchronized governmental approach not only creates the possibility for wasted resources or counter-productive methods, but it also waters down the United States’ ability to create a regional strategy. When multiple countries have varying levels of advantages within sources of national power, the country that reduces inefficiencies across government agencies and synchronizes all sources of power to produce an enhanced effect will have an advantage. Since World War II, the United States has not found the global situation dire enough to seriously contemplate change, but the competitive global situation today demands a reexamination of foreign policy.


Four major initiatives can dramatically improve the United States’ ability to protect and generate power in the foreign policy arena.


First, pass legislation that creates a new organization at the operational level of foreign policy. The new organization will include all sources of national power, specifically - the Department of Defense, Council of Economic Advisors/Department of Commerce, Department of State, Agency for International Development, and the National Intelligence Agency - and replace global models these agencies currently utilize. The current agencies will shift their focus to training, manning, and equipping the new regional organizations. A single civilian commander who is presidentially appointed will lead these regional organizations; this commander will be able to synchronize strategy better and enhance power.


Second, all functional commands nested in each government agency should become subservient to the new organization or cease to exist.


Third, after legislation creates the new organization, establish a new process of strategy and doctrine to better synchronize efforts.

Fourth, after identifying efficiencies or shortfalls within the new model, update legislation, and look for ways to improve the structure.


Now more than ever, the United States cannot afford to squander potential opportunities and must be efficient with its ability to produce power. The security of the United States and the current international system hinges upon United States’ advantages. Protecting this advantage is one of the most critical tasks in the face of the current American generation.



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