H.R. McMaster’s Critique of Light-Footprintism

by Reihan Salam

In a recent talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Major General H.R. McMaster emphasized the continuing importance of ground maneuver forces. Excessive reliance on Special Operations teams that operate in a narrowly-targeted manner or on proxies and partners to achieve broader military objectives is unwise, as it greatly limits the ability of U.S. policymakers to determine strategic outcomes. Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. has more:

Through US history, McMaster said, “our tendency is to decide what we would like to do [and] then assume that’s going to be relevant to the problem…. We make these projections into the future that are unrealistic and, as a result, we create vulnerabilities that our enemies exploit.” At times, he said, American strategy can be “almost narcissistic.”

The tendency McMaster identifies is proving difficult to counteract in our post-Iraq debates over U.S. national security strategy.

The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.