'Taking Stock of the Long Wars': A Proposal

Ten years ago today, U.S. forces began their military action in Afghanistan. American forces have been engaged in Iraq for more than eight and a half years. These are the biggest but not the only elements of the "long wars" -- or, as it is often called in defense circles, "the long war" -- that the United States has waged in response to the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

This morning the Atlantic's National Channel posted a proposal about dealing with the long wars. Here is the background to what appears there:

This summer, at the request of the White House, former Senator Gary Hart led a small group of volunteers preparing a memorandum on ways to transform the defense establishment. Hart has a long background in such efforts, as I have mentioned several times before. In the early 1980s, as a Senator, he was a leader of the Defense Reform coalition in Congress. A decade ago, he was co-chair of the Hart-Rudman Commission, which among other recommendations warned the incoming George W. Bush Administration of the need to be on guard against a major terrorist strike.

The item posted today is co-authored by Hart and several people who worked with him on that memorandum, including me. The others are Andrew Bacevich of Boston University, familiar to Atlantic readers; and John Arquilla, of the Naval Postgraduate School. Today's item concerns one specific recommendation that is timely to highlight on this 10th anniversary of the beginning of U.S. combat in Afghanistan: the formation of a new "Commission to Study the Long Wars," which would carefully assess what is working, and what is not, in America's new open-ended struggles and commitments. The rest is explained in the post itself.

I hope you will read this -- it's short but, in my view, important. And I hope the Administration will take this advice.