This monograph examines the U.S. Military’s struggle to find the correct balance between conventional and counterinsurgency/stability approaches. The author uses history to remind us that at the end of wars, Armies often “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and revert to a default position for organization and doctrine instead of inculcating those lessons learned in the recent wars. History shows us that we do not maintain capabilities and capacity to conduct
operations in complex environments.
Professor Flavin uses Frank Hoffman’s four schoolsof thought (counterinsurgents, traditionalists, utility infielders and division of labor) and shows where the U.S. has been and may be headed in the future. The counterinsurgents believe that the irregular adversary that we fight today is the face of conflict for the foreseeable future; therefore, the military must not repeat the mistakes of the post-Vietnam era. Instead, they believe that we must fully incorporate counterinsurgency (COIN) into doctrine and make the appropriate adjustments in education, training, force structure and resources while accepting risk in a conventional warfighting focus. The traditionalists believe the most dangerous threat to the U.S. is a peer competitor that presents a conventional military threat; thus, the U.S. must retain its advantage in traditional military capabilities and focus to insure that the U.S. can “fight and win” and survive as a nation. To the traditionalists, the challenges presented by stability and COIN- type missions are lesser included cases that can be handled by a conventionally trained and structured force. The utility infielders look for a balance between the counterinsurgents and the traditionalist to cover the entire spectrum while managing risk. The key tenant of this school of thought is to satisfy everyone’s diverse needs with limited resources. Lastly, the division of labor advoc