The Iraq War and the Post Vietnam Narrative: Culture and Change in the U.S. Army, 2005-2007
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The Iraq War was an era of crisis and change within the U.S. Army. The failure of the army to adapt to the war revealed the obsolescence of post Vietnam army culture. Innovation experiences in the war were directionless and a new intellectual framework was required to deal with warfare that the army had long disliked: counterinsurgency. Major organizational change was accomplished by a coalition of generals led by Generals David Petraeus, Jack Keane, and Ray Odierno. These officers established a new intellectual framework with FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency. They challenged institutional military orthodoxy in Washington by proposing a renewed commitment to victory. Finally, they demonstrated the efficacy of counterinsurgency theory through a military campaign that “proved” FM 3-24. This major, yet limited, change in service culture fractured the consensus of the post Vietnam narrative and initiated an ongoing reinterpretation of the army’s philosophy of war.