The early leaks on the Quadrennial Defense Review are all going the “COIN-hybrid war” crowd’s way. Essentially, this represents an ideal of versatility and adaptability up and down the military food chain, with the same units being able to blow things up, build them up and keep civilians safe while doing so. And so long as that kind of approach doesn’t degrade our ability to go big, which is the big concern of the haters, or tempt us into interventionist hubris, which is the big concern of the doubters, it’s an intellectually attractive ideal. Of course, like all ideals, it will run headlong into real-world scenarios whose actual outcomes will stubbornly resist our ability to shape them. But that’s the nature of contingency planning. If we knew all the outcomes beforehand, there really would be no more war.
An aside: I still haven’t seen too much notice of this Stateside, but with each step of its recent evolution, the U.S. Army’s strategic approach has borne a closer resemblance to that of the French army. That’s an ironic outcome for a war — Iraq — that divided the two countries so violently.