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William T. Eliason
Executive Summary

As we reach the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, the American joint force is closing one chapter but seemingly opening another. The rapid change of events in Iraq and the ongoing civil war in Syria cannot help but make us wonder if we are perpetually at war. I teach a class at the Eisenhower School on war termination, and despite the many and varied examples of how wars terminate (or not), the “school solution” is ever elusive. We seem to be somewhere between the near certainty of the geometric concepts of Antoine- Henri Jomini and the “it depends” school of such greats as Carl von Clausewitz as we seek to understand both the wars we are in and those we might face in the future.

William T. Eliason
Executive Summary

In a recent meeting I had with a senior military leader, the discussion turned to an assessment of where the Armed Forces are today. His view was that while we are ending a long period of combat that has engaged all the Services to varying degrees, we are not likely to return to any kind of peacetime period as in the past. We are more likely to see a far smaller force that is surging while in Phase Zero, or preconflict operations. Many see the Services, running on a wartime footing for longer than any period in U.S. history, as worn out both materially and psychologically to varying degrees—with the Army being in the poorest shape. Yet the remaining force remains highly active in terms of operations to maintain the Nation’s defense. Now with continuing budgetary pressures and declining resources from Congress, the Services are making hard choices about what they must do to preserve and evolve the military instrument of power.

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