1999 Topical Symposium 


Sponsored by the National Defense University
Institute for National Strategic Studies
Fort McNair, Washington, DC 

November 16-17, 1999 


Panel Summaries-Key Points 


There was some overlap in comments made in panel presentations and in discussion with the audience.  Miscalculations by both NATO and Milosevic leading to an avoidable conflict; NATO’s lack of comprehensive planning prior to initiating its initially limited air campaign; the disconnect between the humanitarian crisis and the military means employed, and the consequent failure to avert the humanitarian disaster; NATO’s solidarity or unity of effort, despite misgivings; European dependency on U.S. leadership and military technology, and concerns about European efforts to develop its own security and defense capability; and NATO’s assumption of responsibility for peace and stability of the Balkans were issues that came up repeatedly throughout the conference. 

Panel One – Kosovo Strategy Development and Adoption

NATO was constrained in its decision-making by the fact that no one, especially the United States came to the NAC with a comprehensive plan; NATO seized on an air campaign (without back-up or contingency plans), with the hope that it would cause Milosevic to capitulate.  Thereafter, NATO incrementally increased the pressure on Milosevic by more and more bombing of both tactical and strategic targets. 

The NAC made two key decisions leading up to the air campaign.  The first was to authorize SACEUR to issue an activation order to put forces in place to initiate an air campaign; the second was to delegate to the Secretary General the authority to implement Phase I of the air campaign. 

In American eyes Kosovo was a vindication of the Alliance and the bond between the U.S. and Europe.  In Europe Kosovo served as a wake-up call for Europeans to lessen their dependence upon the Americans, and to develop their own defense institutions and capabilities.  

There is growing concern, on both sides of the Atlantic, that Europe will develop a European Security and Defense Identity under the European Union which will be separate from and competing with NATO,  Return

Panel Two – Effective Engagement:  Matching End and Means 

Americans like their wars big, brief, broad, and benign.  Big, with overwhelming force; brief, we try to do it quickly, and also try not to think about the long-term follow-up missions; broad, we prefer coalitions to unilateral actions; and benign, we want to minimize or eliminate casualties, and are overly focused on force protection at the expense of the mission.  Our Allies tend to take a longer view.

We need to respond quicker with appropriate forces to fast moving political and humanitarian crises; and need to incorporate into our intervention planning and preparation the long-term consequences of military intervention. 

Kosovo identified a greater need for precision-guided munitions, and more support vice attack aircraft, particularly tankers, and other specialized support aircraft. 

Our “selective engagement” policy is defensible, evolving, and is articulated in its essentials in two Presidential Decision Directives, PDD-25 and PDD-56, and in theater engagement plans. 

We need to develop effective offensive and defensive information warfare planning and implementation at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.  Return

Panel Three – Managing Conflict and Post Conflict Objectives 

Winning the peace is much more important than winning the war. 

We didn’t use decisive force early enough.  Effects-based targeting, or parallel warfare which exploits the different dimension of time, space, and levels of war to outpace your adversary’s operational tempo, would have been more effective. 

Our intervention strategy is shortsighted.  It needs to be more comprehensive, and take into account its long-term effects.  Our engagement strategy tends to be more in the area of mitigating conflict than either at the front-end in preventive diplomacy and preventive engagement, or at the back-end in conflict resolution.  In Kosovo today we are still involved in mitigating conflict, and talking prematurely about a post-conflict environment.  NATO and the UN need to focus more diplomatic and political resources on conflict resolution.  The U.S., its allies, the UN, and the international community all need to devote more study and resources to the whole issue of conflict management.  Return

Panel Four –Implications for U.S. Forces 

There was agreement that the U.S. would engage in small-scale contingencies in the future, and most likely in coalitions, necessitating improvements in interoperability in weapons systems, command and control, targeting, communications and information. 

There was agreement that the U.S. needs a greater preponderance of support aircraft and advanced munitions, fast and shallow draft sealift, more versatile, rapidly deployable, and mobile ground forces, and superior information operations.  Force projection will be more important, but also more difficult due to anti-access measures employed by our adversaries in the future. 

Future leaders will need better training earlier in their careers in joint task force, joint and combined, inter-Agency and coalition operations. 

While panel members themselves were in that our current forces were equipped to do peacekeeping and other small-scale contingency (SSC) operations, provided they had some specialized training, this was a subject of some differences of opinion with other panels’ presentations and with the audience.  There was agreement on the need to examine high-demand, low-density units and capabilities and force mix for SSCs in the context of particular mission objectives.  

Risk management is not the same as risk avoidance.  Force protection is and will continue to be a major concern, particularly in small-scale contingency operations, but should be managed appropriately in the context of mission objectives. 

NATO will have to remain engaged in Kosovo and the Balkans for the foreseeable future in order to minimize continuing conflict, and to assist the UN and the international community in democratization, economic and institutional development efforts.  Return

Panel Five – Implications for Coalition Operations 

Alliances are not ideal for conducting coercive diplomacy, but very good for building consensus, and NATO proved itself adept at conducting an effective military operation. 

Inadequate strategic planning at the highest political levels, politicization of the planning process, and a mismatch of means and ends compromised NATO’s ability to persevere in Kosovo, and nearly led to a humiliating defeat. 

The U.S. and others need to take responsibility for their own mistakes. 

Europe needs to back its rhetoric with concerted action in strengthening its defense capabilities, and the U.S. needs to be pro-active in assisting Europe to do so. 

Kosovo has resulted in increased tensions between American and European allies, and between the U.S./NATO and the Russians and Chinese.  Our global strategy is and will continue to be a coalition strategy.  It would behoove us, through continuing dialogue, policy statements, and our actions, to make more clear, both to our potential partners as well as our potential adversaries, the strategic intentions and limitations in our engagement strategy.  Return