Monday, January 05, 2009

Maritime Strategy

Good news!!! So, I learned something new today (not surprising) but what I learned was very interesting. I learned about a new strategy that the military is working on. Its actually “old news” came out in late 2007, but I just learned about it now and that’s because its starting to actually trickle down to the normal people. This was a big pow-wow with the head generals/admirals of the coast guard, navy and marines. What they came up with was this fantastic idea. We need to work harder on winning the peace.

It’s a simple idea. What came out of this meeting of really important people is that just winning the war is not good enough. That it needs to be at least as important to win the peace. The big goal of this strategy is to within the next few years be spending at least as much money on peaceful goodwill missions as we spend on bullets and bombs. Dollar for dollar. 50/50. What an amazing concept!

This is not a politically motivated change, its not being pushed by a politician in DC. This came out of these great navel strategists who found out that its not enough to be able to project force and beat someone else into submission. We also have to be able to project good will and help when that is needed. I know its an odd thing for military people to be contemplating but its one of the key reasons that I am still involved with the military. I want to be able to help people when push comes to shove.

This radical change in strategy is from lessons learned from the tsunami in 2004. The US Navy and Marine Corps were some of the first people to roll into town and we worked really hard to bring in TONS and TONS of goods and supplies and went to work right away building, clearing and cleaning. We activated a whole MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit). These units are normally stationed around the world and are a whole group of really supper motivated people who can float into town, build a whole base and fully support it within hours of being activated. We change their mission quite a bit and had them helping people as opposed to forcefully kicking down doors and clearing landing strips but they did an absolutely AMAZING job.

We floated in hospital ships and set up a better level of care then many of the people in the country were used to prior to the tsunami. It gives me warm fuzzy feelings just thinking about it. We also noticed something from that encounter. That country liked us about 14% prior to this, after its at about 86% and its staying there. In other words. We made a friend. Someone got punched in the nose and shoved in a mud puddle. We put a band-aid on them, brushed them off and set them on their feet again. And now we are buddies.

So perhaps we can make more friends, perhaps instead of being a bully that pushes our will on others we can also become a powerful force of good. Granted this is a military strategy so its somewhat simplistic in that it’s a vague idea of a direction to move in. But it gets me excited just because its real. Its turning into more then just talk.

The closing words from my Captain. (BTW, Captain in the Navy is not the same thing as a Captain in the Army/Air Corps, took me a min to figure out why it was a big deal that “THE Captain” was coming by) He pulled me aside and we chatted for a bit and he really does feel that there will be a HUGE place for PAs in the future of this strategy. We will see what happens.