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Military Innovation During the Iraq War -An analysis on the Validity of Internal and External Military Innovation theories-

Lee, Byeonggu 1

1국방대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003 out of the concerns for the possibility that it might deliver the WMDs to Al-Queda, a terrorist group responsible for 9/11 attacks. The U.S. forces employing a conventional military doctrine soon had to face serious strategic and operational challenges as the insurgent activities grew in Iraq. The lack of knowledge and preparation for counterinsurgency and stability operations was the main cause of the problems. The situation began to improve since the mid 2007 and finally the U.S. was able to declare the official end of the Iraq War in December 2011, which had defined the last ten years since 9/11. This strategic outcome was the result of a military innovation which involved conceptual sophistication and institutional expansion of the doctrine of counterinsurgency and stability operations. Against this backdrop, the purpose of this study is to systematically examine the validity of internal or external military innovation theories with the case of the doctrinal innovation during the Iraq War. The result of the study demonstrates that the external model for military innovation, rather than internal model, can better explain the process of military innovation in counterinsurgency occurred during the Iraq War. It shows that the military innovation during the Iraq was made possible because outside civilian leaders drove doctrinal overhaul by supporting the so-called mavericks that had innovation ideas and insights on counterinsurgency. The suggestions this study makes are three-fold. First, the result of this study suggests that a military innovation requires an accumulation of academic and military knowledge on potential areas of innovation. Second, The Iraq case indicates that military innovations could be realized by adequate civilian control of the military. The civilian leadership needs to adjust with flexibility the scope and depth of intervention to military affairs so that the military functions effectively. Third, this study suggests that there could be many institutional hurdles to an effective response of the South Korea military when it comes to the instability in North Korea. It also necessitates continuous searches for policy options to facilitate doctrinal and behavioral changes in the South Korean military to deal with possible political instability and turmoil in North Korea.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.