Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ comments about transitioning to Special Forces are right on target (12/4, A-9, “Pentagon moves to step up military’s ‘irregular warfare’”). But they’re a bit late. Greece (’40s), Vietnam (’60s) and Desert Storm (’90s) all utilized Special (as opposed to conventional) Forces effectively while minimizing casualties.
Tanks and infantry did not win these campaigns; Special Forces did. In Desert Storm we could probably have had tanks in Baghdad in less than 48 hours and taken out Saddam Hussein on Day 1. But perhaps some military leaders were worried about a lengthy occupation with a lot of guerrilla warfare, which is exactly were we are today.
A timely withdrawal of conventional forces does not equate to “defeat.” Just what constitutes “victory,” anyway? Iraq and Afghanistan are not conventional wars. Transitioning to a Special Forces strategy will allow us to better assist Iraq in rebuilding, self-governing and joining the 21st century world community.