Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War


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November 17th marked the official launch of the Institute for National Strategic Studies’ most recent book “Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War” (NDU Press). The book was created after a request from former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It focuses on the Chairman’s two questions, “What were the cost and benefits of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan?” and “What were the strategic lessons of the campaigns?”

During the panel discussion, the authors noted that the book was intended to present current and future senior leaders, and their staffs, with key lessons from these two lengthy campaigns to help improve decision making and outcomes in future efforts. They agreed that there are some changes that need to be made moving forward.  First is the need for more cultural awareness. Military leaders need to know the people with whom they are engaging, protecting, and training to obtain the best results. Second, when creating a plan, senior military leaders need to have a penetrating diagnosis of the problem. Finally, military leaders must recognize the tensions that exists between military leaders and senior civilian decisionmakers; and civilian leaders must be more informed about the complexity of military planning and execution.

The book’s authors – 11 in all – were able to create a comprehensive and cohesive volume that appears to have been written by one person. The level of detail, depth, and analysis is truly impressive given that the campaigns in both countries are still ongoing. For more in-depth analysis of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, as well as more detailed descriptions of the lessons encountered, download a free copy of the book today.

Riley Perkins is an international studies major at American University's School of International Service where he studies national security and economic trade. He is also a research intern with the Center for Complex Operations.