From David Wood, the Huffington Post: As in previous administrations, much of the problem lies in the friction between civilians working in the White House and military officers and Defense Department civilians working across the Potomac River in the Pentagon. Senior officials describe the predicament as a "culture clash." The miscommunications and misunderstandings between the groups cause frustration and anger, which sometimes even leads to policy paralysis, officials say.
One recent example of this dynamic at work is the Obama administration’s tentative, half-way intervention in the Libyan uprising.
"It’s a mess," lamented a senior U.S. official. Washington took the bold step of committing military force, but not enough to win. The administration waited to apply very limited military force until it was almost too late, and now, the official says, it has painted the U.S. "into a corner." In the resulting stalemate, Libyan rebels and civilians are being ruthlessly pursued and killed while the United States, in effect, stands helplessly by.
The White House wanted the Pentagon to come up with a low-cost regime-change plan for Libya. Ideally, this strategy would have toppled Col. Muammar Gaddafi without bogging the U.S. down in another inconclusive foreign adventure. And by no means could the plan have included young American infantrymen advancing under fire across the sand.
The military kept insisting that no such option existed. A real regime-change operation, some officers argued, requires "boots on the ground." That was a cost the White House, given rising domestic pressure to bring the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, was unwilling to consider.
In long meetings and email exchanges, arguments over strategic details often led to more serious disagreements, the official told The Huffington Post. The White House thought the Pentagon was disrespecting the president by refusing to propose a politically acceptable action plan, while the Pentagon became furious that White House officials didn’t "seem to understand what military force can and cannot do,” the official said. (photo: Getty) (via Morning Defense)