Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Rise of Gulf War Paradigm 2.0

The Rise of Gulf War Paradigm 2.0


The adage that “it is always easier to fight the last war” is one that readily can be applied to the United States and its armed forces for not predicting the scale and type of operations encountered in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. This article argues that the lack of preparation in the post-invasion phases arose from an institutional attachment to a preferred paradigm of warfare, as exemplified by the Persian Gulf War of 1991. This paradigm, though, has been substantially resurrected and re-configured to suit the fighting preferences of the American armed forces in its protracted encounters in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far from re-orienting its organization and mindset to meet the challenges of so-called counterinsurgency campaigns, as much current advocacy maintains, the military has reverted to the form of warfare it knows best.

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