As the lead author of the new Army-Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual, I was very disappointed in your article "Lessons Not Learned" (January), which was obviously written without reading the final version of the manual. The manual itself can be downloaded. I ask that you post this Web site for your readers, so they can download the manual and make their own judgments about its utility.
You would have profited greatly by talking to the writers involved in creating it. Those critiques you quote were directed at earlier drafts. We on the writing team carefully read them all, and engaged the critics, looking for the best ideas we could find.
For instance, the final version deals more extensively with intelligence and the multilayered and shifting coalition of enemies in modern insurgencies, two areas your article singles out for particular criticism. We made many other adjustments based on thousands of comments received from uniformed and civilian sources. What we could say about intelligence gathering also was affected by new congressional legislation and existing regulations, which we cannot contradict. The most influential theorist on our work was David Galula, who is quoted extensively in your article, though we gathered ideas from many places.
There is much that is new and revolutionary in the doctrine. While the manual was heavily influenced by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the writers realize that if we have created a document that is applicable only in those situations, we will have failed in our mission. Because the key theme of the manual is learning and adapting, we will be rewriting it again in a few years, and will continue to search for and incorporate new ideas to make it better.Conrad Crane
U.S. Army Military History Institute
The Real Deal
I very much enjoyed "Speeding Up Acquisition Reform" (December 2006). Dov Zakheim's article draws a comparison between the funding reforms and reforms in the actual acquisition process.
As an ex-Defense Department contracting officer of several years, some of which were directly associated with fulfilling requirements of deployed troops at overseas bases, I can only say that we acquired supplies and services in the fastest way at the best value prices. Many times, we catered to the troops' needs within 24 hours.
This was only possible due to the hard work of the dedicated contracting professionals and a congressional mandate that raised the dollar threshold for acquisition of terrorism-related supplies and services and exempted such re-quirements from the routine long acquisition process. Nevertheless, Mr. Zakheim's suggestion will be highly welcomed by the acquisition community.Madhu LeFevre
NASA Office of Inspector General
Kennedy Space Center