That’s Not My Job

The RAND Corp., whose tag line reads, “Objective Analysis. Effective Solutions.,” recently released a study finding the U.S. needs to rethink its strategy in the war on terrorism.

Did they reach this unremarkable conclusion on their own, or were they helped along?

Did we mention this was a DoD-funded the study?

The study “How Terrorist Groups End: Lesson for Countering al Qa’ida” was performed by the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a “federally funded research and development center that does research for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands and other defense agencies.”

NDRI’s mission is to research complex national defense policy issues, and yes, the war on terrorism (not to be confused with that other money pit, the war on drugs) is one of them. An advisory board made up representatives from within DoD oversees NDRI. We’re not quite sure how RAND bills itself as independent when oversight is provided by a bunch of defense (purse-string) heavies.

But we digress.

NDRI found the use of military force in the war on terrorism has been counterproductive. (We are reasonably sure this does not come as a shock.) Here’s another surprise: The term “war” has proved problematic, fueling the opponents’ ideas of a possible holy war. Holy wars score big points with some sectors. 

RAND goes to build its argument for its client, well, it’s independent argument: A military focus in battling terrorism is inappropriate. More effective and proven approaches would be policing and intelligence-heavy engagements. It is tough to argue with a pie chart showing that, of 268 terrorist groups that ended from 1968-2006, 43 were terminated through politics — 40 percent through policing, but a mere 7 percent through military force. (The remaining 10 percent were victorious.)

RAND’s golden egg: Get the U.S. military out of the war on terrorism.  

While DoD might loose some funding in this shift, it won’t loose those new end-strength numbers. The services long ago exploited the real-world training opportunities they needed from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been facing some serious diminishing returns for some time.

How far-fetched is it that DoD is behind RAND’s findings? Maybe officials did not push the results, but those who want to move the military out of police and anti-terror actions, are high-fiving. (As one intel source mentioned, F-22s and tanks are not good for police actions.) Having a RAND study (bought and paid for courtesy of DoD) in your back pocket when you tell a defense secretary who is paranoid of leaders with “next-war-itis;” lawmakers terrified of pending elections; and some appointee who’s bitter about the impending end of the gravy train, “That’s not my job,” … priceless.

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