Sunday, August 5, 2012
The July/August issue of Foreign Affairs magazine has an article titled:”Obama’s New Global Posture”. (Michele Flournoy and Janine Davidson) The article argues for this strategy of ‘forward engagement’. It makes a number of points to reinforce this ‘posture’. By stationing more of our activity abroad, we make our influence greater and deterrence stronger. I have lots of problems with this article, but three stand out: 1) Sorry, but I am a BIG believer in defense in depth. This strategy has it’s uses, but the best pure defenses are ones that have depth in both space on the battlefield and its material resources. 2) The most unstable region in the world is the Middle East and the surrounding areas. If having forward bases are so important, why is the U.S. withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan? Pakistan and Iran are the greatest threats in the area and Afghanistan borders BOTH countries. 3) It is riskier. Forward posturing is riskier than defense in depth. Like blitzing your linebackers. It does work at times, but to rely on it all the time is risky. Certain times require a forward defensive position. In 1944, Rommel knew that with the U.S. and English control of the air, reinforcements would need to be very close to the front because any and all movement would be curtailed by enemy air power. Conventional doctrine did not apply in this case. Is the U.S REALLY in a situation that demands a forward posture? In certain parts of the world it makes sense on the tactical level, but this article is arguing that this posture is the best strategic positioning of our forces today. I not only disagree, but believe that this is a very dangerous position to take. You just never know when a critical situation will arise and a defense in depth is generally the best way to minimize your losses and recover your position.