News | Sept. 1, 2015


By NDU Press Lessons Encountered


Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this [war] as philosophy to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged.

—Abraham Lincoln, November 10, 1864

This volume was a great team effort that enabled us to accomplish a 2-year project in only 10 months. The first acknowledgment goes to the nearly one dozen people who wrote chapters and annexes. Next we thank Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser, USMC, Director for Joint Force Development, Joint Staff J7, and Major General Frederick Padilla, USMC, President of the National Defense University (NDU). They were a critical sounding board and gave great advice to the team.

Many others helped us and gave unselfishly of their time and effort. A number of senior officers and civilians gave hours of their time to provide interviews (or written responses) for this project. Among them were General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Honorable Stephen J. Hadley, former National Security Advisor; General Lloyd J. Austin III, USA, Commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM); General David Petraeus, USA (Ret.), former Commander, USCENTCOM, and commander in Iraq and Afghanistan; General James N. Mattis, USMC (Ret.), former Commander, USCENTCOM; Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.), former commander in Afghanistan; General John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.), former commander in Afghanistan; Lieutenant General Douglas E. Lute, USA (Ret.), former Deputy National Security Advisor and now U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; the Honorable Michèle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Dr. Michael Mazaar of RAND, a former member of the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff’s Commander’s Action Group; and John Wood, a long-serving member of the National Security Council Staff.

The authors also had access to over 100 additional senior officer interviews conducted by organizations such as the Center for Military History (CMH), Military History Institute (MHI), Combat Studies Institute (CSI) at Fort Leavenworth, and Chief of Staff of the Army’s Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Study Group. We would like to thank Dr. Donald Wright of CSI, Dr. Conrad Crane of MHI, Colonel E.J. Degen, USA, of CMH, the leader of the Army’s operational study of Operation Enduring Freedom, and Colonel Joel Rayburn, USA, the leader of the Army’s OIF study, for their assistance in facilitating access to these interviews, which allowed the authors to exploit previous research on Afghanistan and Iraq, thus saving months of work in the process.

As always, the Center for Complex Operations (CCO) staff earned our deepest appreciation. Some commented on chapters, while others transcribed, took notes, edited, scheduled, or pointed out errors. CCO Deputy Bernie Carreau provided management and expert commentary. Giorgio Rajao, Nathan White, Fulbright scholar Hiram Reynolds, Maxwell Kelly, Michael Davies, and Major Claude Lambert, USA, a graduate student at George Mason University, took notes, made expert comments, and worked on formal summaries or transcripts of multiple interviews. Captain Sam Rosenberg, USA, a graduate student in Georgetown’s Security Studies Program, did excellent work on the timelines and fact-checking. The CCO staff who participated in this project also include Michael Miklaucic, Dale Erickson, Sara Thannhauser, Christoff Luehrs, Talley Latimore, Connor Christensen, Ryan Lester, and Jonathan Reich. Becky Harper worked tirelessly behind the scenes to direct support to the project, the project’s workers, and two complex conferences.

In addition to the authors and the support staff, the team wants to extend its appreciation to the many people who read the manuscript and commented on the chapters. We owe our special gratitude to our senior reviewers, who not only commented on the manuscript as a whole but also sat with us for a long day discussing it in detail, the academic version of trench warfare. Our senior reviewers were Professor Richard Betts of Columbia University; Professor Dan Caldwell of Pepperdine University; Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, USA, of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC); Major General Rick Waddell, USAR, who is both director of the NDU renowned Capstone Course and Deputy Commander of U.S. Southern Command; and Lieutenant General David Deptula, USAF (Ret.), who is is the Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies.

Our chapter reviewers, who also made great and detailed contributions, include John Wood of the Near East South Asia Center, Dr. Pete Mansoor of The Ohio State University, Ryan Henry and Linda Robinson of RAND, Robert Perito, Dr. Jack Kem of the Combined Arms Center, the Honorable James Baker of the Court of Military Appeals, and Amy Belasco of the Congressional Research Service.

A number of other invited reviewers went above and beyond and submitted detailed comments on the manuscript. The editors and authors want to thank in particular Professor Cynthia Watson of the National War College, who read the manuscript twice; Professor Steve Brent and Professor Sorin Lungu of the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy; Colonel Tim Ryan, USA (Ret.), of the Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis Division, J7, Joint Staff; and Lieutenant Colonel John Gallagher, USA, Lieutenant Colonel Blair Sokol, USMC, and Colonel Charlie Miller, USA, of the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Others who weighed in at our review conference include Norine MacDonald, Queen’s Counsel; Major Dave McNatt, USA, TRADOC Army Capabilities Integration Center; Major Erica Iverson, USA, TRADOC; and Colonel Joel Rayburn.

The Small Wars Journal (SWJ), for the last decade led by Dave Dilegge—Marine, journalist, and entrepreneur—published a review essay by one of our authors on lessons learned and invited reader responses. Among those who contributed their thoughts were Dr. John Fairlamb, Dr. Jeff McCausland, Jeff Goodson, Brian Petit (who sent along his own book), Keith Nightingale, David Ronfeldt, Dr. John Kuehn, and many others on the SWJ blog whose use of aliases prevent us from naming them. National War College faculty members and alumni added powerful and precise commentary. Thanks also to Colonels Dave Arnold, USAF; John Hall, USA; Ivan Shidlovsky, USA; Andrew Nielsen, USAF; and Mark Roberts of the Department of Homeland Security for their expert commentary. Professors Dan Dailey and Mark Clodfelter of the National War College mixed intelligence and strategic commentary in appropriate proportions. The Army War College’s Steve Metz also lent us his considerable wisdom. Lastly, Jerry Lynes of J7 was supportive through every step of the process.

A final note of thanks goes to our friends and partners at NDU Press. The skillful work of Dr. William T. Eliason, Dr. Jeffrey D. Smotherman, Dr. John J. Church, Joanna E. Seich, and Erin L. Sindle, along with Lisa M. Yambrick, made this a better book.

The editors and authors alone are responsible for any errors of fact or interpretation. This work is theirs alone and does not purport to represent the assessment, interpretation, or views of the Department of Defense, Joint Staff, or National Defense University.