The US military is on the slow path to the realization that nation-building from reconstruction to other forms of traditional COIN dogma that serve to return legitimacy to the government doesn’t work. Politics and populations in our new global environment fragment faster than they can be assembled into cohesive entities. What does work to slow the spread of temporary autonomous zones and open source insurgencies are open source militias...The use of a plethora of militias to fight a global open source insurgency from Nigeria to Mexico to Iraq to Pakistan is effective within a grand strategy of delay (it holds disorder at bay while allowing globalization to work). Most beneficially, it eliminates the need for nation-building, massive conventional troop deployments, and other forms of excess. Some questions remain: can the US manage something this complex or this messy? Will the rest of the US military/contractors sit idle (and as a result fall victim to budget cuts) while light weight special operations forces (and their allied private military corporations) take center stage?
Is this the real lesson of Iraq?
Some helpful background on John Robb and his ideas here. The obvious benefit of this strategy is that it allows us to do more with less, and avoid the financial and human hemmorhaging of a permanent occupation of a place like Iraq, where nation-building seems increasingly a quixotic exercise.