Pulitzer Winner: ‘U.S. Army Is Like a Ferrari Without a Steering Wheel’

An ominous prognosis from Thomas E. Ricks.

The 10th annual Paul J. Schatt Memorial Lecture honors at Arizona State University went to Thomas E. Ricks (pictured). The Pulitzer winner, who covered the U.S. military for both the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, spoke to students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Monday night.

The title of Ricks’ lecture was “Why I Fear We Will Lose Our Next Big War.” Per a summary of the event posted on the ASU website, the key as Ricks sees it is innovation:

“The U.S. Army today is like a Ferrari without a steering wheel,” Ricks said. “It’s really powerful and really fast, but it has no direction…”

He described “fighting hillibillies 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?…”

“It’s not, ‘Do you have the most powerful military?’ Ricks said. “It’s: ‘Do you have the most relevant military?’… The dirty little secret of the past 15 years is that the enemy has adapted far more quickly than we have.”

Up next on the ASU “Future of War” Spring Speaker’s Series: CNN analyst Peter Bergen Feb. 16 for a talk titled “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists.” Read the rest of the Feb. 8 event summary here.

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