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West: U.S. Must Understand 21st-Century Combat

2. Cut off the enemys flow of men, material and resources. We have to interdict the enemys flow of resources in order to prevent the ability to fund, supply and replenish his ranks.

3. Win the information war. Unfortunately, the enemy is far more adept at exploiting the power of the Internet, broadcast media and dissemination of powerful imagery. In addition, I fear our media now sees itself as an ideological political wing. If we cannot fully use our own national informational power as an asset, we will lose the strategic battle, if not our country.

4. Cordon off the enemy and reduce his sphere of influence. We must shrink the enemys territory, but we are not being effective. We are allowing, if not welcoming, the enemy into the United States. What happened with Maj. Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, should not have happened in this country. We must not turn a blind eye to a very bold enemy who is telling us exactly what he wants to do and is willing to bring the battle to our doorstep.

We must recognize that Afghanistan and Iraq are not distinct wars, but combat theaters of operation. It is up to our elected leaders and our senior military officials to identify and agree on the correct strategic goals and objectives in order to be successful on these battlefields and others. When we have a proper national security strategy, we will have a focused national military strategy, preparing the defense-industrial base to develop the right weapons systems for victory.

We must be mindful of the wise words compiled by Sun Tzu in The Art of War more than 25 centuries ago, to know your enemy and to know yourself and to know the environment and countless amounts of battles, you will always be victorious. If we do not understand this simple maxim, we face dark days ahead.

For the sake of our nation, and of all nations who seek freedom for their citizens, we must clearly identify the 21st century battlefield and ensure we are victorious on it.

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a retired Army lieutenant colonel, serves on the Armed Services Committee.

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