For a very interesting article from the perspective of someone who thinks transformation talk has gone too far, take a look at “What Not to Learn from Afghanistan,” an article from the military journal, Parameters, by William R. Hawkins. Hawkins argues that, despite the success of high tech-low troop warfare in Afghanistan, we will still be needing boots on the ground in the future.
The Army had 18 divisions during the first Gulf War. That’s now been cut to 10. Some fans of transformation think we can get away with eight, or even six divisions. I think our experience in Iraq will change that calculation. The Afghan success, and the bump in the road at the start of the Iraq war, will stand as bookends, so to speak, on an ongoing argument about how large a military we need, and how to structure the one we’ve got. That is the real lesson of the war so far. The problems we’ve had with troop strength are relatively minor and correctable. But the lesson is important. We need more troops. For a quick overview of the cuts to our conventional forces, and the need to build them back up, see this second piece, also by William R. Hawkins.