Reviewing Theoretical and Policy Implications
This concluding chapter suggests that the four administrations studied in this book either made overly optimistic assessments of the feasibility of noncombat tasks, had trouble seeing how these tasks would be affected by combat activities, or were uncertain of how these activities would advance the higher-level objectives of a military campaign. Officials often failed to grasp operational costs and details, or displayed an inability to think of noncombat operations as means to higher ends. Rarely, however, did they commit both types of errors in the same campaign. Officials who sought transformative ends exhibited concrete thinking in the short term and more abstract thought when considering the more distant future. Alternatively, the nature of assessments made by officials with maintenance goals was relatively concrete regardless of the stage of conflict under consideration.
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