COIN vs. CT?

On January 5, amid much pomp and circumstance, President Barack Obama released the newest version of the US Defense Strategic Guidance. The document delineated the future course of US defense strategy, reiterating the commitment of the US to its strategic partners — the oil sheikhdoms — in the Persian Gulf, and shifting its focus to conventional warfare and deterrence capabilities in East Asia. So far, so predictable. Also notable, however, is this paragraph:

In the aftermath of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States will emphasize non-military means and military-to-military cooperation to address instability and reduce the demand for significant US force commitments to stability operations. US forces will nevertheless be ready to conduct limited counterinsurgency and other stability operations if required, operating alongside coalition forces wherever possible. Accordingly, US forces will retain and continue to refine the lessons learned, expertise and specialized capabilities that have been developed over the past ten years of counterinsurgency and stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, US forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations (italics in original).

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