Front Page magazine has an excellent piece by Lt. Colonel Gordon Cucullu, a former Green Beret, that explains how we should be fighting the wars we are currently involved in - and likely to be involved in in the future. Essentially, Cucullu argues that if we are going to defeat our enemies we need to stop trying to fight them in conventional ways using conventional forces that are bound by - well - conventions. The way to go is to use special forces backed when necessary with irregular, local forces.
Special operations forces are able to think more creatively, operate more freely, and use more flexibility than conventional forces that are tied to legalistic, unrealistic, and often self-defeating rules of engagement drawn up by Pentagon JAG lawyers.
The most important point is that this “War for the Free World” is not a conventional war. This war, other than for brief interludes in which set-piece battles were fought and won as during the early weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is a dark, shadowy war. It must be fought against an enemy adept at using a mixed-strategy of ideology, propaganda, terrorism, money-laundering, non-state combatants, rogue state sponsors, and irregular, conscience-less brutality to conduct operations against America.
As Cucullu points out, there are times when conventional "set-piece battles" will be fought and when these take place we need to have the conventional forces - air, land and sea - to fight them. But when faced with the sort of "insurgency" that permeates through Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan then that requires a different kind of approach. Cucullu's final paragraph sums it up brilliantly.
By restricting ourselves to artificial, bureaucratic geographical division of responsibility, by thinking only in terms of conventional battlefields, and by relying on gentle, media-friendly tactics we are trying to fight our sworn enemies with unacceptable – indeed potentially fatal - mental and physical constraints. If victory is our objective then we must fight the war to win, using forces specially configured and trained to employ an effective strategy to defeat this terrible an enemy. Those forces are found in the special operations community and the sooner we call on them to take charge the better chance we have of winning this war.