It has been tough to settle on a definitive name for this war America is fighting, but deciding what to call it is a minor concern. Half a decade into it now, how goes the war? Opinions ran the gamut from unreservedly pessimistic to cautiously optimistic at the fifth annual Defense Forum Washington, presented in September by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Marine Corps Association. Leading lights from government, military, and journalism convened in Arlington, Virginia, for a series of panel discussions to attempt an assessment of the global war on terrorism—the Long War.
The subject matter seemed to act as a Rorschach blot, inspiring a range of responses, from virulent critiques of blind adventurism to hopeful praises of ground gained and lessons learned. But there was consensus, at least, on one sobering point: this is a clash that is going to last for many years.
"We are engaged in an all-hands fight—sometimes I wonder if our country and frankly if some portions of our government remember that," said Navy Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his remarks as the Forum's kickoff speaker.