Update on National SecurityPrintable Version
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
General McCaffery focused on force modernization, nuclear non-proliferation, and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the United States has been forced to maintain a sophisticated counterintelligence effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need to deter an emerging China and resurgent Russia will require emphasis on more conventional aspects of military force such as maintaining an advanced navy and deploying next-generation fighter planes. Nuclear non-proliferation, McCaffrey argued, would require a balance between international diplomacy and the maintenance of a modernized, fully capable nuclear deterrent force. States considering the acquisition of nuclear weapons must be convinced that such weapons will not make them more secure, while the United States, in conjunction with other existing nuclear powers, must work to maintain our deterrence force by modernizing our warheads, and properly maintaining our delivery systems.
Although General McCaffery denounced the egregious cost and mismanagement of the war in Iraq, he nevertheless argued that the avenue to withdrawal is fairly straightforward. According to McCaffrey, advances in both the size and professionalism of the Iraqi Security Forces will allow U.S. troops to safely withdraw in approximately three years, leaving a multinational residual force to deal with unexpected contingencies. While McCaffrey praised Iraqi politicians for routinely risking assassination to govern their country, he criticized the government for not being able to properly deliver basic services such as water, energy, and infrastructure maintenance.
The conflict in Afghanistan, however, is more complex. Afghanistan is geographically much larger and more rugged than Iraq, but possesses far less in terms of infrastructure, established government bureaucracies, and human capital. While the conflict in Iraq requires the reorganization and enhancement of existing state functions, the conflict in Afghanistan requires the creation of state departments from scratch. Additionally, McCaffrey noted that the prevalence of Afghanistan's opium production, coupled with the skyrocketing level of violence from renewed Taliban attacks has created an environment which is increasingly hostile to reconstruction. Regardless, McCaffery was quick to commend both the resourcefulness of the Afghan people, citing their ability to quickly capitalize on U.S. reconstruction contracts, and the professionalism and loyalty of the Afghan Army.
- The US military must organize in a way that fosters counter-insurgency and conventional war capabilities, but our immediate focus must be on winning today's wars. Efforts such as increasing recruitment and redeploying the force structure will not only serve this goal in the short-term, but will also support our longer-term goals of deterring future conflicts.
- As more countries seek to obtain WMD, the chance for the world's most dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of extremists and rogue states increases exponentially. Reorganizing the US government to better coordinate between national security agencies is an essential component of countering this threat.
McCaffrey said, diplomacy must be a key element
in countering the WMD threat. The
US-Russia relationship is at the heart of much
of this effort, as both countries share an
interest in safeguarding the nuclear stockpile
left behind form the Soviet era. The
Cooperative Threat Reduction program (also
known as the Nunn-Lugar Act) warrants the
continued support of both the US and Russia,
promotes continued engagement with countries
such as Pakistan to bolster nuclear safeguards
and enhance institutional
Biography of General Barry McCaffrey
Iraq After Action Report