Milley, Army Chief, Stomps on Five ‘Myths’ of War

Washington Report

(August 1, 2017) Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff, worries that Americans have developed the wrong idea about war and what it takes to fight and win one.

During a talk at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., last week, Milley, who will speak this year at the annual NGAUS conference in September as he has done twice before, addressed those myths and explained where they are wrong.

Army Times reported on the general’s appearance.

  1. Wars will be short.“Beware of that one,” he said. “Wars have a logic of their own sometimes, and they move in directions that are highly unexpected.” Short wars do happen, he said, but “they’re pretty rare.”
  2. You can win wars from afar. Using the experience of his father as a Marine on Iwo Jima during World War II, he pointed out that after 66 days of bombing, enough Japanese troops survived to kill 7,000 Marines coming ashore. “To impose your political will on the enemy typically requires you, at the end of the day, to close with and destroy that enemy up close with ground forces,” he said.
  3. Special Forces can do it all. “I’m a proud Green Beret, love the Special Forces,” he said. Those highly trained troops are the best warriors in the world. “The one thing they are not designed to do is win a war,” Milley said. “They can do raids. They can train other countries. There’s lots of things they can do. Winning wars by themselves is not one of their tasks.”
  4. Armies are easy to create.“There’s a myth that you can just bring kids into the military, march them around a field a little bit, six to eight weeks of training and—boom—you’ve got an army. Wrong answer,” Milley said. “It takes a considerable amount of time to build armies, navies, air forces and marine corps, especially in today’s environment of complex weapons systems.”
  5. Armies fight wars.“We don’t,” he said. “Armies don’t fight wars. Navies, air forces, they don’t fight wars. Nations fight wars. It takes the full commitment of the entire nation to fight wars. We can do a raid real quick. That’s one thing. But war is a different thing, and it takes a nation to fight and win a war.”