The Pentagon's next challenge: Reconciling the size and mission of a reconfigured force with a public that is increasingly skeptical of long-term counterinsurgency operations.
By 2011 the United States will have established the strategy, force structure, and programs it needs to conduct extended counterinsurgency campaigns. Arguably, that is where the military needed to be in 2003 when the Iraq conflict began. Unfortunately, the military "rebalancing" has occurred just as public support for those kinds of campaigns has collapsed. Neither success in Iraq nor the initially strong justification for intervention in Afghanistan has affected the continuing decline in public support for those conflicts. Concurrently, such support for any sort of future intervention has eroded.