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War is destructive in nature, obviously. For Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, “destruction of an enemy’s armed forces is the means to the end…[and] the only means of destroying the enemy's armed force is by combat….” The timelessness of destruction is grounded in Army doctrine of the offensive, “to defeat, destroy, or neutralize the enemy force” with an aim to take or maintain the initiative in operations. Destruction of two cities proved critical to ending the Second World War, but left a lasting wound in Japan and set the tone for the Cold War arms race. Yet in many cases, destruction can be a source of renewal despite the scars it leaves behind. A nation often uses the fragments that war creates to build cultural artifacts that not only reflect, but look forward.
In recent comments, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described his take on current Republican presidential candidates’ grasp on national security concerns: “The level of dialogue on national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler. … People are out there making threats and promises that are totally unrealistic, totally unattainable.”
We in the Army love art — at least we love to say “art” when followed immediately with “and science.” The Army enjoys the duality of art and science to an almost mythical level. We apply it to our leadership philosophy of mission command. It has an art of command and science of control. Planning is an art and science. The Army’s Command and General Staff College offers a master’s degree in military art and science. Just add “the art and science of” before any military term, and you may well be profound and doctrinally grounded.
The Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, provides the 10-month-long command and general staff officer course. The program serves as an Army officer’s mid-career, graduate-level, professional military education and fulfills congressional, Joint, and Army requirements for officer development. Over the past few years, however, it received some considerable criticism over how it’s structured and operated.
In recent years, Mexican drug cartels have created a startling proliferation of violence just south of the U.S. border. For example, the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel engaged in outright combat with Mexican security forces and carried out a number of civilian executions earlier this year. A 2013 Government Accountability Office report indicated that 33 U.S. state and local law enforcement agencies expressed grave concern over potential spillover violence into American border states.
In the Army, we have have talented officers and weak ones. The same is true for the corps of noncommissioned officers. But unlike officer career paths, sergeants come into the service as a follower to develop and eventually earn their NCO stripes and supervisory roles over other troops. Regardless of ambitions and abilities, sergeants assume leadership jobs after a period of time, reenlistments, promotion boards, combat experience, schooling, and promotion point accrual.