How is sending drones into sovereign nations to attack and kill people not a war?
I don't recall ever arguing that it wasn't.

I have on many occasions called the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon acts of war.

We did a poor job of counterinsurgency in Viet Nam as well.
Outside of the Marine Combined Action Platoons, we didn't actually do counterinsurgency in Vietnam.  Westmoreland chose instead to fight a war of attrition, finding the enemy and killing more of him than he kills of you.

I remain unconvinced that it is something we can ever do well.
The Marines have a lot more experience with counterinsurgency.  Officers like Petraeus were outliers in the Army.

We simply don't have the stomach for it in my view.
What we don't have is the patience.  We want to hurry up and destroy the enemy, but we want to use technology to minimize deaths among civilians and our own troops.

I see no reason for trying it again. Our attempts at occupying Iraq were a failure the last time.
Actually, we did quite well under Petraeus.

Our attempt at occupying Afghanistan has been a failure as well.
Afghanistan is a very different place.

I have studied the Civil War and the Revolutionary War in much more detail than I have studied other US wars.
I have studied World War II the most, but have studied other US wars to some degree.  I may have studied Iraq the second most.

They would almost inevitably win by attrition if they would just continously attack.
As noted, attrition was Westy's "strategy" in Vietnam.  It was the wrong strategy for that war.

The West Point experts he was forced to depend on as generals were much more interested in maneuver and occupation of territory.
As B/H. Liddell Hart stated, getting an old idea out of the military harder than getting a new idea in.  Taking Richmond was in line with accepted military theory.

Until he managed to get Grant and Sherman in control he had no generals willing to destroy Confederate Armies and Confederate means of sustenance which is what eventually won the war. 
Grant believed that Lee's army, rather then Richmond was the Confederacy's center of gravity.  Nonetheless, he marched on Richmond, knowing that Lee would defend it.

In a counterinsurgency, the people are the center of gravity, which is why armies fighting insurgencies are supposed to protect the population -- so minimizing civilian casualties actually serves counterinsurgency.

Washington was forced by circumstance into just the opposite strategy.
Washington was the insurgency.  It was less important for him to defeat the British on the battlefield than it was for him to preserve his army.  Mao said that there are three stages of insurgency/guerrilla warfare.  The first two involve establishing and preserving the insurgent force while harassing the enemy; in the third stage the insurgency transitions to trying to destroy the enemy on the battlefield -- an example being the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu.  Washington at Yorktown would be another example.

The US military establishment is divided as to what is the best strategy in Iraq. Of course the Army thinks we need boots on the ground because that is what the army does.
I highly doubt that the Army wants to go back into Iraq.  The generals will certainly argue that ground soldiers will win the war, but that doesn't mean they will argue that they must by American soldiers.

Of course the Air Force thinks we need air superiority because that is what they do.
Air superiority is not applicable since there is no enemy air force to defeat; while ISIS may have some air defense capability, it is nothing compared to what Saddam had.  The Air Force will push arguments for strategic air power, rather than for tactical air power (close air support).

The problem we face is not one of military ability it is one of strategic implementation.

Sadly, the ability to formulate strategy is a lost art in the Army.  After Vietnam the Army pursued tactical excellence in order to defeat the Soviets in Western Europe.  It took an outlier like Petraeus to come up with a strategy and, fortunately, he had given many years to studying counterinsurgencies.

I submit it is impossible to know what tools we need to use because we have not decided what we mean to accomplish.
The tools will serve the strategy, which should be designed to implement the policy the president comes up with -- assuming any of that actually happens.

Bush didn't do it in Iraq or in Afghanistan; at least not clearly enough to form a strategy that worked.
The president's job is to formulate the policy, and it is the job the generals of formulate the strategy.

If we are going to fight insurgencies, we really should go against the grain and listen to the Marines.



"It'd be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view."

-- Oscar Levant