U.S. Marine Corps photo

Back in 2008, Adm. Michael Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made what seemed like a self-evident observation, seven years into the Afghanistan war and five years into Iraq: “We can’t kill our way to victory.” Nine years and nearly 2,000 U.S. combat deaths later, the U.S. Naval Institute has published Can’t Kill Enough to Win? Think Again, an op-ed by two retired lieutenant colonels who charge that Mullen was dead wrong, in thrall to a culture of weakness that has permeated and hamstrung the U.S. military. The USNI is a serious outlet for professional military thought; the authors of this particular piece, David Bolgiano and John Taylor, are former paratroopers and JAGs. This article is serious but sorely misguided, another reminder that the military is slow to adapt and has never fully adjusted to counterinsurgency.

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