Pulitzer winner Thomas Ricks tells ASU crowd that U.S. needs to out-adapt the enemy to stay relevant, claim victory
Too much George Patton and not enough Steve Jobs.
Lack of innovation, rigid inflexibility instead of creative adaptivity and stubborn adherence to using past solutions for future problems are leaving the United States with a vulnerable military, said Thomas Ricks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist speaking at Arizona State University Monday night.
“The U.S. Army today is like a Ferrari without a steering wheel,” Ricks told a crowd at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It’s really powerful and really fast, but it has no direction.”
Ricks, who spent more than 25 years between the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post covering the U.S. military, presented “Why I Fear We Will Lose Our Next Big War” during a free public lecture.
“We have a very large and powerful military,” Ricks said. “We spend a lot of money on it.”
He described “fighting hillbillies in Afghanistan who make our hillbillies look like George Clooney ... and they’re tying us in knots. Does that sound like the world’s most powerful military to you?”
Ricks described a conversation with then U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal talked about going around the country interviewing officers on the ground. They told him about their current operations. He asked them what they’d do differently if they knew they’d be there indefinitely instead of a few months. “Everything,” they told him, “But we’re just keeping a lid on it.”