The 19th-century humorist Josh Billings once wrote that "It ain't the things you don't know what gets you in deep trouble; it's the things you knows for sure what ain't so." The fictional Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, who captained the ill-fated minesweeper USS Caine in Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny, claimed, "You can't assume nothin' in this man's Navy." He was wrong, of course, because military planners frequently must substitute assumptions for absent facts. Those who did so in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom erred so outrageously that key suppositions began to clash with reality before the war was one week old, because what they knew for sure wasn't so. (For elaboration, see John M. Collins, "You Can't Assume Nothin'," Proceedings, May 2003, p. 50.)
Afghanistan: Connecting Assumptions and Strategy
Three well-known military thinkers re-evaluate what we've assumed to know—that just wasn't so—about a country where we've been fighting for eight years.
By Colonel T. X. Hammes, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), Major William S. McCallister, U.S. Army (Retired), and Colonel John M. Collins, U.S. Army (Retired)