Back in 2005 a British Army officer, Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, wrote a scathing critique of the U.S. Army and its performance in Iraq. In his article he accused the U.S. Army of cultural ignorance, moralistic self-righteousness, and unproductive micromanagement-among many other things. When asked why it was allowed it to be published in a U.S. Army magazine Military Review, the editor, Colonel William Darley, replied: "Because I want to win the war in Iraq".
Under the leadership of General Petraeus, who at the time was running much of the U.S. Army's educational and doctrine programme, Brigadier Aylwin-Foster's article helped to force the uncomfortable debate simmering inside the U.S. Army to the forefront. Four years later, not only has the U.S. Army overcome many of the institutional and doctrinal weaknesses from the early days of the Iraq war, they have also turned around a dire situation into one which is manageable and even winnable.
In the September issue of British Army Review we find an important and similar critique of the performance of the British Army in Basra. This is the in-house journal of the British Army, which up to now has avoided the kind of self-criticism and self-analysis which is so necessary for success in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't necessarily agree with every point made by Colonel Pete Mansoor, Dr Daniel Marston, or Professor Anthony King, but they are highly regarded and well respected in their field and it would be folly to simply ignore their views. All three convey the same message: if we fail to learn from our experiences in Iraq we are destined to fail in Afghanistan.