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Public Affairs : Keane talks strategy with DSS

Keane talks strategy with DSS faculty, cadets 

Story and photo by Maj. Matt Cavanaugh
Defense and Strategic Studies
WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 16, 2013) — The turnout was high and the audience was focused on the straight talk and lessons on war provided by former Army Vice Chief of Staff retired Gen. Jack Keane.

The Department of Military Instruction’s Defense and Strategic Studies Program hosted Keane on the topic of the Iraq War surge Nov. 25 in Washington Hall.

The “surge strategy” in Iraq has received a great deal of attention, and is a significant feature in the DS470: Military Strategy course.

Retiring in 2006, Keane was instrumental in changing what he called a “short-war strategy.” His involvement in the Iraq War has been a contentious topic in the profession about how influential retired military officers ought to remain.

Moreover, Keane is on the record telling President George W. Bush, “Don’t let people tell you that this is going to break the back of the Army and the Marine Corps, because it will not. These forces are available. We can extend tours.”

This comment raises an important question for today’s all-volunteer force: What is the limit? Is there a “red line” for the use of ground forces? What is the breaking point?

By all accounts, the 115 cadets that attended enjoyed the lecture and discussion.

“It was a very thought-provoking talk on the War on Terror and the decision for the surge (in Iraq),” Class of 2014 Cadet Danny Freeman said.

U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Jack Gendron, Class of 2015, echoed and augmented Freeman’s comments.

“Gen. Keane’s visit was a great opportunity on two fronts,” Gendron said. “He provided much insight into the fascinating world of strategy making at the highest levels and, more importantly for us cadets, he exemplified how to be a honest, hard hitting officer filled with conviction and dedication to the mission.”
Former Army Vice Chief of Staff retired Gen. Jack Keane talks with a Defense and Strategic Studies cadet following his discussion on his role in the Iraq surge to an audience of 115 cadets in Washington Hall Nov. 25.

“After the cadet session wrapped up, Keane spoke at a smaller faculty-only colloquium on current threats to American national interests.

“The value can’t be calculated—someone like Gen. Keane who is blunt, honest and very direct with a first-person, inside perspective,” Maj. Jon Fursman, DSS Program deputy, said. “Strategy is not a pretty process and he certainly shared that lesson in spades.”