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Operations Other Than War

Who Says Warriors Don't Do Windows?

Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Hasskamp, USAF
1998, 41 pages
Cost: $0, AU Press Code: P-13



This study examines the rise of operations other than war (OOTW) as a new and prominent tasking for the armed services of the United States. The author, Lt Col Charles W. Hasskamp, USAF, is an advocate of the OOTW mission, and he argues that the US Special Forces Command is an excellent instrument for the task. The author bases his position on these points. First, the end of the cold war has provided the United States a respite from the focused geopolitical strategy and challenge of "containment. " Unfortunately, without the stability coerced by a bipolar world, the shutters have come off and the shades have gone up on "windows" that reveal a new world disorder. While the world has an increasingly interdependent global economy, the legacies of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, drug trafficking, and religious and ethnic extremism generate increasing threats to that free-market, democratic ideal the American public espouses for all countries. Second, the US government’s current national security strategy emphasizes "engagement and enlargement" as they factor into US preventive diplomacy. The national military strategy emphasizes "flexible and selective engagement" which relates to preventive deterrence. Both of these strategies emphasize the use of US military forces for considerable work other than fighting the nation’s wars—that is, for OOTW. As recent experience shows, there is considerable pressure to use the American military as an arbitrator and peacemaker to the world. This study examines the arguments for and against expanding our military’s nontraditional roles and missions. It concludes that the US armed forces can do and will continue to be able to perform an excellent job in operations other than war, as they have done in the past. The danger is that this endeavor could jeopardize the readiness of a force structure necessary to maintain the more traditional war-fighting capabilities. The study suggests that an actually smaller force and smaller defense budget can still accomplish the primary mission of fighting the nation’s wars while also undertaking the myriad of peacetime engagements and conflict preventions our leaders have ordered. Moreover, the Special Operations Command, which has the skill and will to serve well in the full spectrum of armed conflict, also has the cultural, social, and technical know-how to perform the more complex chores of nation building and humanitarian operations. As we wrestle with the ongoing parade of "opportunities" that continue to present themselves in the new world disorder, we will do well to consider Lieutenant Colonel Hasskamp’s means of doing more with fewer.


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