Obama - The Strategic Decider
September 1, 2014
In December 2009, Obama’s military advisers jammed him by leaking their assessment that US forces in Afghanistan should be increased by 40,000 troupes. Obama had already increased the force of 47,000 in Afghanistan with an additional 21,000 troupes during the year. Soon after, Stanley McChrystal, and other military leaders (including General Petraeus, Adm Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) requested an additional 40,000 troupes, with an anticipated timeline far in excess of anything Obama felt was reasonable.
Obama’s preferred strategy for Afghanistan was based on a careful assessment of history and military issues, debates about consequences and alternative approaches within his team of advisors, and an unceasing demand for facts and analysis. He was angry with his military team when the earlier strategic points had not been followed during the year. His anger increased his determination to adhere to the strategy he and his team had developed. But, McChrystal and the Joint Chiefs had effectively sunk that strategy, and he was forced to add 30,000 troupes, although he required that the time period be narrowed so that downsizing would begin within a year of the start of the surge.
Was Obama’s tan suit new conference (on August 28, 2014) an effort to insure that his advisors don’t jam him again by forcing him to commit to poorly designed military action. Unlike the current suggestion of Obama being inept for not having a strategy, Obama again shows that strategy design is very serious work.
Obama is ridiculed for his thoughtful approach to the ISIL crisis because he said that there can’t be action until there is a strategy and there can’t be a strategy until there is a coalition of vested parties. He takes the idea to “not do stupid things” as the first principle in the development of strategy. The American public may be surprised to hear the strategy still needs to be developed, but after the exhaustion of Iraq, they sorely want an effective strategy.