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National Military Strategy, 1997

Shape, Respond, Prepare Now -- A Military Strategy for a New Era


This document conveys my advice and that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the strategic direction of the Armed Forces in implementing the guidance in the President's A National Security Strategy for a New Century and the Secretary's Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review.

We have just completed a year-long assessment of the strategic environment that underscored the continuing importance of robust American military power. While we no longer face the threat of a rival superpower, there are states and other actors who can challenge us and our allies conventionally and by asymmetric means such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The rise of regional powers is leading to a multipolar world that can be either more secure or more dangerous -- hence the importance of the President's "imperative of engagement" described herein.

The military has an important role in engagement -- helping to shape the international environment in appropriate ways to bring about a more peaceful and stable world. The purpose of our Armed Forces, however, is to deter and defeat threats of organized violence to our country and its interests. While fighting and winning two nearly simultaneous wars remains the foremost task, we must also respond to a wide variety of other potential crises. As we take on these diverse missions, it is important to emphasize the Armed Forces' core competence: we fight. That must be the primary consideration in the development and employment of forces.

The Chiefs and I strongly agree that the force levels recommended by the Secretary in the QDR are the minimum necessary to carry out this strategy at prudent military risk. Further, we must begin to transform them now by exploiting technological advances that are changing warfare. To do this with forces that will remain committed to operational readiness, contingency operations and engagement activities requires a stabilized investment program and a fundamental re-engineering of support infrastructure. It also requires that we sustain the high quality men and women serving in the Armed Forces. They are the indispensable and decisive element in any strategy.

Our best judgment is that this strategy, Shape, Respond, Prepare Now: A Military Strategy for a New Era, and the forces for which it calls, will protect the Nation and its interests, and promote a peace that benefits America and all like-minded nations.

JOHN M. SHALIKASHVILI
Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary

Introduction

The Strategic Environment—Opportunities and Challenges

The Strategy—Shape, Respond, Prepare Now

The Joint Force

Conclusion

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