I spent part of the weekend with several hundred of my favorite military historians at VMI. Great fun, and I got to meet authors of books I've been reading. For me, seeing guys like Brian Linn, Timothy Nenninger, Richard Kohn, Joseph Glathaar, Mark Stoler, and Edward "Old Army" Coffman is like meeting rock stars. By coincidence, I'd read Stoler's terrific biography of Marshall just last week, and also had bought Glathaar's new book on Lee's army. And I left Lexington with my car sagging under the weight of books I bought.
I got there too late for Col. Gian Gentile's talk, but he nicely sent me a copy. He argued that the U.S. Army is concentrating too much on counterinsurgency, at the expense of other operational concepts. "Good strategy... demands the consideration of alternatives, yet the American Army's fixation on population-centric COIN precludes choice." He also worries that the concept of victory inherent in the COIN concept is "the never-ending process of counterinsurgency."
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.