The success of military operations depends on the degree of preparedness, availability of equipment, and the morale level of the soldiers participating in the combat. The main reason why the United States has always succeeded in its combats is the availability of resources. Nevertheless, in most battles, the country has always appeared unprepared during the initial stages of the battle. As evidenced by the Operation Enduring Freedom in the Philippines and Afghanistan, the United States does not make thorough preparations before deploying its soldiers to the battlefield. Hence, the soldiers find it hard to cope with the combat style of their enemies as well as the terrain of the battlefield. In addition, most of the time, the non-commissioned officers and other military officers lack morale to engage in combat. Consequently, they do not prepare their soldiers for combat. Americans are currently working on enhancing their military capabilities by restructuring the forces and training their military personnel on novel combat techniques.
The success of any military operation depends on the level of preparedness, availability of combat tools, and the level of training given to the belligerents. For decades, the United States Army has participated in many battles across the globe with immense success. The reason behind the success could be that the country has spent a lot of money on military training and armament. Over the last four years, the country’s spending on military has increased significantly relative to the world’s total spending (Kagan, 2006). The country continues investing in its military as one of its defense strategies. Despite the huge spending, American soldiers always appear extemporaneous when responding to hostilities during their first battles. In most of the first battles, American soldiers appear to have limited knowledge about the terrain of the battlefield and poor leadership. This paper will look at the American soldiers’ readiness during the Philippines and Afghanistan battles.
Operation Enduring Freedom- Philippines and Afghanistan
For decades, the United States and the Philippines joined efforts in a mission and combat exchange (Swain, 2010). Initially, no one could tell that the United States could join efforts with the Philippines in a battlefield. The US sent an experienced Army that comprised of both the Army and Navy Special Operations Forces. The readiness of these forces meant that they were set to face any kind of resistance from their enemies. American soldiers worked in collaboration with their Philippines counterparts to address all the logistical problems that emerged during the battle (Swain, 2010).
After the September 11 attacks, the American government embarked on a mission to counter terrorism across the globe. The first target was the Al Qaeda and the Taliban (Herring, 2003). Unlike in the Philippines where Americans took their time to prepare for the combat, the move to attack the Al Qaeda and Taliban was done swiftly with limited preparations. Herring (2003) posits that for any military operation to succeed there should be thorough preparations. The army ought to have proper strategies to give directions on the steps to take during the war. In the US-Afghanistan war, the American soldiers did not take time to come up with strategies. Consequently, the American soldiers experienced challenges starting from the initial stages of the battle.
In a bid to defeat the Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the American government needed to take time and learn the opponents’ tactics as well as understand the Afghanistan terrain. It could only do this by collaborating with other countries like the United Kingdom (Kagan, 2006). Instead of seeking assistance from other states, the Americans opted to go singlehandedly into war with terrorists. This move was contrary to what happened in the Philippines where American soldiers took time to analyze their enemies before engaging them in a combat. The preparation led to the Americans registering a limited number of casualties as opposed to the Afghanistan case.
Factors Affecting the US Army Readiness
For a long time, the United States military has overlooked the need for understanding the requirements and nature of counterinsurgency and constancy operations. Missions subjecting the American Army into war against militants or forcing it to come in and reestablish sanity and stability are always perceived as factors that lie outside the Army’s remit (Grissom, 2006). Furthermore, such cases have been treated as “lesser-included” operations (Grissom, 2006). The American forces have always focused on attaining dominance over armies of the affected states, whom they perceive to be working and operating in the same way as the American Army (Grissom, 2006). This form of “conventional” or “high-intensity” war still exists in spite of the American Army witnessing irregular challenges in the battlefields. Indeed, most of the main combats that the American soldiers encounter involve less regular phases. The perception that the American soldiers will face opponents that use a similar combat style affects the American’s preparedness (Grissom, 2006), which was particularly evident in Afghanistan. Since the Americans believed that the Taliban use a combat style similar to that of Americans, they did little training before engaging in the battlefield. They underestimated the capabilities of the Taliban group thus facing them without proper preparation.
According to Donnelly (2012), some of the factors that affect military preparedness include support cycle tasking, resources, unit morale, new mission requirements, and personnel turnover. For the Americans to subdue the Al Qaeda and the Taliban, they required many resources in terms of money, equipments, and trained forces. However, these resources were not available from the beginning. In addition, Donnelly (2012) notes that prior to any combat, the combatants ought to understand their opponents. They need to know the kind of weapons they use, their fighting style, and the terrain of the battleground (Donnelly, 2012). The US deployed its soldiers to Afghanistan without taking enough time to ensure that they had all the required resources. Besides, it did not take time to learn the Afghan terrain and the combat style used by the Taliban. Consequently, many of the American soldiers died and scores maimed through landmines and the guerrilla attacks lodged by the Taliban group.
The errors in the American military logic were clear during the early stages of its fight against terrorism. The United States failed to predict the outcomes and later struggled to cope with the instability that resulted from Operation Enduring Freedom. Unlike in the Philippines where the American soldiers managed to contain the situation and restore order in the country, until now the American Soldiers are still struggling to contain the situation in Afghanistan. The United States’ Department of Defense did not take time to anticipate the effects of its incursion in Afghanistan. According to them, they thought that they would clear the terrorists and leave the country immediately after their mission. Nevertheless, their incursion triggered instability in the country, which they are still trying to contain. Failure to predict the aftermath of their incursion led to the American Army not coming up with modalities to cope with any instability.
Lack of unit morale
The United States army at times experience laxity among soldiers and the military leaders in most of its first battles. According to Hoffman (2005), military deployments come unexpectedly thus finding the military unprepared. Despite the unpredictability of the military deployment, in most cases the soldiers fail to prepare for the deployment deliberately. Whenever the military feels that it does not want to engage in the mission, it fails to prepare for it hoping that the unpreparedness would make the government call off the deployment. The non-commissioned officers (NCO) are responsible for training and arranging for all military operations. They train the army on the various combat techniques coupled with training army leaders on how to manage their staff in the battlefield. If the non-commissioned officers fail to meet their obligation, the combatants are doomed. It is hard for the military to win any battle without first going through training. During the Philippines war, the NOC did its duty. Hence, the American soldiers managed to overcome their enemies within a short period. The same did not happen with the Afghanistan battle. NOC and other military officers were reluctant to engage in this battle. Lack of proper deployment strategies that led to numerous American soldiers losing their life is a clear indication that they lacked the morale to participate in the battle, thus they did not prepare for the same.
After learning the hard way from the two battles, the United States’ Department of Defense is working on strategies to ensure that its military is ever prepared before engaging in any pacification. Currently, the department of defense is using both the top-down innovation and bottom-up adaptation to equip its forces with the requisite skills for dealing with unfamiliar battlefields. The bottom-up adaptation entails changing the current fighting techniques, while the top-down innovation entails the institutionalization of the adopted changes through imposing new doctrines, training, and restructuring the forces. Today, the United States has increased its spending on military and has purchased new equipment as one of its military preparedness strategies.
Donnelly, T. (2012). New Thinking, A Fresh Look at Irregular Warfare. Web.
Grissom, A. (2006). The future of military innovation studies. Journal of Strategic Studies, 29(5), 905-934.
Herring, G. K. (2003). The War in Afghanistan: A strategic Analysis. Web.
Hoffman, F. (2005). Small wars revisited: the United States and nontraditional wars. Journal of Strategic Studies, 28(6), 123-137.
Kagan, F. (2006). Finding the Target: The Transformation of American Military Policy. New York, NY: Encounter Books.
Swain, R. (2010). Case Study: Operation Enduring Freedom Philippines. New York, NY: US Army Counterinsurgency Center.