The US army has miserably failed to acquit itself with aplomb in Afghanistan to date and there are doomladen forecasts about the future also, because its culture resonates with features which, in the past also, have made big powers to get disposed of by inferior enemies in the guerrilla wars. Guerrilla wars, which are for the most part asymmetric conflicts, do not hinge upon the expeditious operation of complex mechanical devices, highly coherent logistical system etc for success. The success in these wars pivots on the strength of emotions, superiority of will and the tolerance for heavy casualties. From the Teutoberg Forest, to the long march, to the Tet offensive, adversaries who were unambiguously and markedly under par in weapons, military and organisation mopped the floor with superior armies and managed to persevere to ultimately notch up victories on the back of the Rolls-Royce of will, disposition to accept ginormous costs and belief in 'death or victory'. The most tragic fact with American military is that there is a partiality and fondness for minimising casualties. "We must expend steel and fire, not men," General Van Fleet, 8th Army, 1951. A cogent Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) study has explicated that casualties are chiefly a perceptual issue with the core leaders of US military strategic and political culture. True to form, America is unable or indisposed to accept high casualties and costs in Afghanistan. Equally important is the absence of will and lack of motivation on the behalf of its soldiers to run the risk of death. The case is quite the obverse with Al-Qaeda. It is the Al-Qaeda's endurance, effervescence, will and high threshold for the pain, manifested by its capacity to readily accept whatever the costs, that has enabled it to wear down the US in Afghanistan. To put it mildly, lack of will and exceedingly low predilection for sufferings have made the US army to wring its hands. It was this low tolerance for casualties that had bulldozed President Clinton into announcing the end of American involvement in Somalia in 1993, just after getting 30 US troops killed and over 100 wounded. On a deeper analysis, the other rough edges of US army can be expounded on the following counts: For starters, the kernel of American army's way of war is heavy reliance on air power, precision firepower and mobility. This policy works only in conventional wars such as the Persian Gulf War and not in case of guerrilla wars such as Afghanistan. Excessive force and indiscriminate destruction that its approach entails, however, does not win any hearts and minds but offers more utility as a recruiting aid for the enemy. Secondly, the US army does not have a mindset or frame of reference and skills to acclimatise itself to the situation. It follows certain established approaches parrot-fashion and the result is a recipe for cutting a sorry figure. In fact whenever the US army has faced an unorthodox, tenacious and elusive enemy, it has come unglued and its plans have gone belly-up as in these cases there appear no conventional "fronts" or "rears" to penetrate with massed advances of heavy armour forces. Afghanistan is a case in point where the goal of a quick and decisive victory has become a fool's errand. Thirdly, the US army has got an inveterate knack of not learning lessons. If the Americans had learned from their own unsavoury experience in Vietnam and the prior experience of Soviets in Afghanistan, they might have known that mere technology - helicopter mobility and advanced bombers - do not make a military to outstrip the enemy. Otto Von Bismarck was once reported to have said, "Fools say they learn from experience; I prefer to learn from the experience of others." If this quote is anything to go by, it seems that Americans belong to a category even worst than the fools because they do not learn even from experience. Instead of drawing lessons and inferring useful deductions from bitter failures, they try to blank out these experiences and regard them as irrelevant or exotic to the institution. Vietnam experience is a glaring example in this regard. The Vietnam experience was an anathema to the mainstream US military, so it tried to expunge this spectre from the memories. Resultantly, hard lessons learnt there were neither embedded nor preserved in the US army's institutional memory. The exasperating and gross-out feature is that this blunder was not committed for the first time. Long before the Vietnam War, the US army had also erased the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) from its memory. And last but not the least important factor is that the US army is not an innovative one. It has, throughout its history, tried to copy the models of other powers i.e, the French model, German model, Prussian military system etc. So it is safe to say that the US army lacks originality as it has always borrowed doctrines from Europe. Had the US army been a visionary army, it would have evolved its own model and invented its own military science. If we delve, it comes out that it was the insular geography that had provided the US cheap security and made its army not to go through the wringer and face odds frequently, as a result of which the US army lacks richness in perceptual and cognitive development. Flexibility is conspicuous by absence from its approach and a hubris or 'disease of victory' has emerged in the US army that has always encouraged its commanding generals to underestimate their enemies and over-estimate their own battlefield prowess. These were the points which had made the US to meet frustration in Vietnam and now same is the case in Afghanistan. The writer is a foreign affairs analyst E-mail: