Key Military Missions

Based on the experiences of 1990­1995, a broad consensus has developed that a review of the structure of the U.S. armed forces is in order. The force structure that followed from the Bottom Up Review is well configured to the primary scenario--the ability to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts--but it does not accommodate other scenarios well. Beyond criticizing the Bottom Up Review, consensus breaks down.

Although critics have offered a variety of proposals, their suggestions represent little change from the basic approach taken in the Bottom Up Review or, for that matter, in the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System put in place during the McNamara era of the 1960s. The PPBS had a certain credibility in the past when the bipolar competition between the U.S. and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies imposed a degree of structure, or apparent structure, on the global security system. Analysts felt they had a good understanding of the global security architecture and could even predict the types of challenges that U.S. forces would face. This at least provided a common starting point for force planners and a set of plausible planning scenarios against which alternative force structures could be tested.

No such certainty exists today. Indeed, a growing number of analysts are asking whether there is--if there ever was--a discernible pattern in the relations among nations or in the forces at work that shape the global security environment. These analysts point to questions that defy the conventional descriptive, let alone predictive, models. For example, why did the Soviet Union's grip on the nations of Central Europe collapse so precipitously in 1989? For that matter, why was the collapse of the communist system so rapid and so complete by 1991 even in the Soviet Union?

Increasingly, analysts are suggesting that the U.S. step away from trying to impose a structure to explain global activity and view it in its full complexity--the full sum of a great many independent actors and forces interacting with each other in a great variety of ways. This means more than saying that the international order is complicated. It means viewing the international security environment as more spontaneous, more disorderly, more alive than the U.S. has regarded it in the past. Complexity theorists would argue that such an organic system could be in a rough balance between chaos and order and that creative innovations are suddenly generated at this edge of chaos. It is here that seventy years of Soviet communism, in the blink of an eye, gave way to political upheaval and ferment.

To the force planner, such a view provides an alternative to the linear, reductionist approach that dominates analysis and planning today. It leads away from the straight-line derivation of tomorrow's forces based on an extrapolation to or prediction of challenges of the future based on the experiences of the recent past. It leads to plans for forces that are characterized by their agility, flexibility, and adaptability.

Unlike the days of the Cold War or even the planning for the Base Force and the Bottom Up Review, this new approach yields no simple, stylized set piece scenarios against which precise planning can be done. The emerging security environment is too unpredictable for that. In its place, it sketches a picture of the great complexity of the emerging security environment and illuminates the broad spectrum of missions the military will have to be prepared to execute in the coming decades. The spectrum of missions goes far beyond planning for two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies. For the most part, these missions are different cases, not lesser included cases, and the military has had to execute them by adapting forces not designed for the mission at hand or by overtaxing special units that are in short supply in the U.S. armed forces.

This chapter specifies a series of military missions that the U.S. armed forces should be prepared to undertake as the U.S. enters the 21st Century. These missions are derived from the preceding threat assessment and are based on the types of flashpoints discussed in this volume. They are organized as responses to threats from theater peers, regional conflicts, troubled states, and transnational challenges.

The USS Kentucky, part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent

Theater peers

The relations between the U.S. and theater peers--large powers who can challenge us in their own region, though not globally--will continue to be the key determinant of peace and order in the international community. Theater peers can be grouped into two broad categories:

To maintain a strong cooperative relationship with its traditional large allies, U.S. armed forces perform two key strategic missions. Four additional missions are central to managing relations with theater peers with whom the U.S. lacks a long history of cooperation in the security sphere.

Prevent nuclear strikes on the United States

Protecting U.S. territory against weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear weapons in particular, remains a key element of U.S. national security. The prospect of a nuclear exchange with a theater peer has receded considerably since the height of the Cold War. The U.S. and Russia have taken important steps to reduce arsenals of strategic nuclear forces, to retarget forces away from each other's territory, and to take large portions of the remaining forces off standing alert. Still, both Russia and China possess nuclear forces that can strike U.S. territory. Even though the likelihood of their use is remote, the consequences are terrible to contemplate, so, for the foreseeable future, the U.S. will require a force adequate to deter the use, or threat of use, of nuclear forces against it.

To this end, the U.S. needs a force:

Anti-ballistic missile technologies may produce a national missile defense system to counter the threat of theater ballistic missiles launched by a rogue nation against an ally or against U.S. forward-deployed troops. New technologies could be adapted to a national missile defense system if those nations develop delivery systems that can reach U.S. territory. The administration feels that the U.S. is more than a decade away from facing this threat.

The contemplated systems focus on an attack of relatively modest size. They would be adequate to cope with a rogue nation that could deliver a handful of nuclear warheads against the U.S. or with the arsenal that China can be expected to have.

Estimates of when the U.S. might face a threat of nuclear strike from smaller nations vary. Critics of the administration plan feel that the administration is proceeding too slowly with the development and deployment of a national missile defense system. Their assessment is that a number of nations hostile to the U.S. are close to obtaining the requisite nuclear weapons fabrication and long-range missile technology. They have called for accelerated development of a national missile defense with an eye to initial deployment by 2003.

C­141B Starlifters in BIG DROP III, May 1996. The ability to move supplies quickly helps assureallies of the U.S. ability to join them in their defense.

Participate actively in key alliances

The nations with whom the U.S. has formal alliances are relatively wealthy and technologically advanced. Although they find themselves in regions that have a history of instability and conflict and they do maintain a strong concern for their security, they have chosen not to translate their technological and economic prowess into offensive military might. Instead, they have developed competent military forces that provide largely local defensive power and for the rest of their security depend on alliance structures that include the United States. The U.S. provides global power projection capabilities that include strategic lift, global naval forces, and global intelligence coverage while the allied nations provide for the greater part of the local defense. The confidence that the U.S. possesses these strategic capabilities and is willing to use them removes the imperative for its powerful allies to develop them unilaterally.

The NATO alliance is in the process of adapting itself to a security environment characterized not by a large threatening military power on its very borders, but by instability and turbulence on its Eastern and Southern fringes. It is reorganizing its command structure to make it more responsive to crises on its periphery. It increasingly sees its role as an operation to stabilize Bosnia, not the defense of its home territory against a massive invasion by a hostile large power. It has further recognized the need to work with the former Warsaw Pact nations to bring them into a cooperative relationship with the West and to support the efforts of those nations to establish stable democratic governments in which the military occupies its appropriate role.

The existence of a permanent, active military alliance also provides the foundation for forming coalitions. The militaries of NATO plan together and exercise together, so that when they deploy to the field, they are willing to and capable of working together.

Successful cooperation of the NATO militaries was evident in Desert Storm and continues in Bosnia.

The U.S.-Japan security alliance has adapted to the new security environment in Northeast Asia by developing common positions toward thorny flashpoints in the region such as the North Korean nuclear program and the long-term status of relations between Beijing and Taipei. The U.S.-Japan summit of April 1996 laid the foundation for expanding security cooperation to include coping with crises of regional instability.

Maintain forward presence of military forces

Overseas bases and forces and the demonstrated ability to project power into a theater go a long way to assure allies that the U.S. has the capability and the will to join with them in their defense if needed. Allies regard the presence of ground forces in particular as a firm symbol of U.S. commitment. This is particularly true of the presence of U.S. ground forces in Korea. If North Korea invades the South, it knows that it would be fighting U.S. troops and risking the consequences of a war with the full spectrum of U.S. military might. This maximizes deterrence, reassures Japan, and relieves it of insecurities about instability on the peninsula that might otherwise drive them to an aggressive buildup of military forces. It buys time for the U.S. to work with the nations of Northeast Asia to find a formula for long-term stability on the peninsula.

Standing forces in the theater are critical to U.S. defense policy in Europe. Their presence makes possible the day-to-day cooperation with European militaries that pays dividends on the battlefield. In addition, the presence of U.S. forces ensures that senior U.S. military officers and civilian officials are integrated into key positions in the planning staffs of NATO.

Respond in the event of a crisis involving a theater peer

During the Cold War, U.S. competition with hostile large powers was the primary determinant of the size and configuration of U.S. armed forces. While this is no longer the case, there are strains in relations with theater peers with which the U.S. does not have a long history of cooperation. U.S. military forces have a key role to play in managing those relations.

At present there is no other nation that can mount a global challenge to the United States. U.S. forces are far more capable than those of any other nation and since U.S. defense spending remains five times that of any other conceivable adversary, this is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.

Still, a theater peer can threaten U.S. interests by inappropriate or hostile action close to its own borders, in what it may regard as its sphere of influence. Tension will typically revolve around a large power's concern about its sovereignty in the region. For example, Moscow may well feel the necessity to act militarily in its near abroad to reinforce its security and to reaffirm what it regards as its appropriate sovereignty in the region. China may do the same in Taiwan or the South China Sea. As a practical matter, nations on the periphery of a large power are vulnerable to intimidation or coercion. In addition, the free flow of goods by sea and air could be threatened. The U.S. would want to thwart the efforts of a large power to disrupt, intimidate, or coerce in a way that conflicts with U.S. interests.

Responding to a crisis with a theater peer is fundamentally different than dealing with a mid-size regional power. Theater peers have nuclear forces that can strike the U.S., so there is strong motivation on both sides to avoid direct conflict or, at the very least, use considerable restraint to minimize the risk of escalation. Moreover, even if the U.S. were confident it could limit conflict with a great power to the conventional sphere, the size of a large power makes the idea of conquering it or inflicting total defeat on its armed forces unrealistic (and unnecessary) in today's world.

In any crisis with, or in the vicinity of, a theater peer, the U.S. would want to act in conjunction with its allies in the region. But allied support is by no means guaranteed. U.S. alliance partners, living in the shadow of theater peers, may well be more reluctant than the U.S. to be involved in an operation that could include military conflict.

In the event that a theater peer appears to be contemplating attacking a state on its periphery, U.S. national command authorities need first and foremost a timely and accurate picture of the situation. Detailed monitoring would be required of the military forces in the immediate vicinity and of any activity that could affect the situation, such as deployments to air bases in the region or the dispersal of mobile missiles.

The visible presence of U.S. forces would serve notice that the U.S. intends to protect its interests. This could give the power contemplating aggression pause, reassure U.S. friends, and stiffen their resolve. The U.S. military would need to be able to demonstrate the capability to hold an aggressor large power's forces at risk. This includes dominating the airspace and sea along the littoral of that power, as well as protecting U.S. forces and U.S. allies from the threat of missile attack. The implied threat that the U.S. could neutralize or degrade the aggressor's force in the immediate vicinity of the crisis would provide leverage at the negotiating table.

If the theater peer were nevertheless to attack a state on its periphery, the U.S. would have to consider its options. It is unlikely that the state attacked would be a formal ally of the U.S., but it could be a democratic state friendly to the U.S. Any U.S. military contribution would almost certainly be carefully circumscribed to minimize the risk of escalation to all-out war. For instance, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. would send substantial numbers of ground forces or launch air strikes at economic and population centers. At the same time, the national command authorities might well want options for disrupting the aggressor's attack through precision strikes on key points such as bridges, rail lines and C3 nodes.

Furthermore, the U.S. might well want to reinforce its nearby treaty allies, to demonstrate to the large power that were it to continue the attack beyond some unspecified line, the U.S. commitment would dramatically escalate, and direct conflict with U.S. forces would become a possibility.

An F­15 Strike Eagle in a 1996 Air Expeditionary Force exercise in Jordan.

Dissuade a theater peer from militarily challenging the U.S.

No nation has the capability to challenge the U.S. as a global peer military competitor. The challenge for U.S. foreign policy is to manage its relations with theater peers to prevent their feeling the need or the desire to engage in an arms race. This calls for the U.S. to engage in constructive dialogue and, where possible, to cooperate to resolve issues in the domain of national security. This includes utilizing regional and global multinational institutions to involve large powers in the broad framework of international cooperation, and engagement with these nations in the military sphere will advance this goal. Military-to-military efforts in peace operations, educational exchanges, and combined training serve to build habits of trust and cooperation.

These measures may not succeed. A complementary strategy is to dissuade a rival from attempting to build a military that can rival that of the U.S. by cultivating certain military competencies to render futile attempts by other countries to compete. That requires the U.S. to sustain a clear superiority in leading-edge military capabilities, thereby making prohibitive the cost and time a would-be competitor would need to invest in military development.

This strategy will be more difficult to execute in the coming decades than it was in the past. Leaps forward in military capability depend increasingly on incorporation of information, telecommunications, and sensor technologies into military systems. Rapid advances in these technologies taking place in the commercial sector are available to any nation with access to technical expertise and hard currency. Deterring a would-be competitor can no longer depend on restricting access to advanced technology. It requires a constant program to review technology, doctrine, operating concepts and organization of the armed forces to ensure that the U.S. remains at the leading edge of military capabilities.

Maintain superiority in information warfare operations

The rise of military information systems entails a corresponding responsibility to keep them operating correctly in the face of an information warfare attack. Such attacks can range from physical destruction of critical C3I nodes to electronic warfare against communications links, the insertion of rogue software codes into computers and their networks, and various forms of spoofing.

Just as the U.S. military has learned to operate in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, so too must it learn to operate in a hostile information environment. Means include stepping up operational security, firewalls, the use of cryptographic methods, and deliberate redundancy in nodes, links, and sensors. At times, the U.S. military may need to help allies with test/diagnosis/repair facilities, backup capabilities, and the ability to tie their forces directly to U.S. information systems.

The United States is also developing an ability to target and disable adversary information systems. The fact that U.S. companies supply a large percentage of the world's information systems makes it easier for the U.S. military to understand how they function (and what their weak points are). Yet, compared to the U.S., the militaries of likely adversaries are less technologically advanced, less dependent on advanced information systems and thus less sensitive to attack on their information infrastructures.

The choice of what systems the U.S. military seeks to protect is yet to be resolved. Clearly, it must protect its own systems, and it does have legitimate concerns over outside systems it depends on (e.g., defense contractors, communication service providers to military facilities). So it would need the legal scope and special expertise to protect private elements of the overall national information infrastructure if their owners could or would not do so.

Significant regional conflicts

The Bottom Up Review analyzed in detail the need to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts. That requirement formed the basis for the Review's force structure recommendations. The U.S. position relative to nations typically envisioned as adversaries in a significant regional conflict has improved since the completion of the Bottom Up Review in 1993. Both North Korea and Iraq lack sufficient modern military equipment. Moscow and Beijing have ceased to provide their latest equipment on advantageous terms, and North Korea and Iraq lack adequate hard currency to buy modern equipment on the open market. With each passing year, their armed forces operate with increasingly aging and obsolescent military equipment.

This is not to say that the threat of a major regional conflict from these forces has vanished. The Iraqi ground forces remain far larger and more powerful than those of its smaller neighbors of the Gulf Cooperation Council and should remain so for the foreseeable future. These states will not by themselves be able to defend against Iraqi aggression. Likewise, a risk remains that a heavily armed North Korea facing economic collapse might launch an invasion out of desperation.

The U.S. has more leeway in fighting in a significant regional conflict than in a conflict involving a theater peer because U.S. national survival is not at risk, so it need not hesitate to strike key targets in an aggressor's homeland. Also, the nation's armed forces are smaller so it is plausible to inflict an overwhelming defeat on it.

Defend friendly territory from invasion

The United States will have to continue to bolster allies to defend against an invasion of the type launched against Kuwait in 1990. In the Gulf, defense against such an invasion begins with a demonstrated ability to bring combat power rapidly to a threatened area and rests on a multifaceted response with ground and air firepower. The most cogent and credible deterrence is provided by U.S. forces present in the region that can commit to battle quickly. These must be backed by forces that can reinforce the forces in theater rapidly (e.g. through propositioning), and by forces that can bring combat power to bear from "over the horizon".

Likewise, the United States will, in the short run, need to continue its aid to the South Korean military. The U.S. forces in country, particularly the Second Mechanized Infantry Division, provide a strong deterrence to aggression by the North. U.S. air and naval forces in the region supplement the South's forces--bringing unique capabilities, especially long-range precision strike, battlefield intelligence, and air defenses.

Beyond defense on the immediate battlefield, the ability to hold strategic targets in an aggressor's homeland at risk is a powerful deterrent and a key element of a successful campaign to defeat the aggressor. Assured destruction of strategic targets calls for the ability to locate them precisely. For fixed targets this is relatively straightforward. Mobile targets require the ability to scan a large portion of the aggressor's territory in near real time and strike them promptly. This capability also permits precise timing of a strike on a time-sensitive target (e.g., a bridge just before a major combat or support unit is to cross). Successful targeting has to be backed by capability to penetrate air defenses in particular, since high value strategic targets tend to be heavily defended.

Liberate territory

Iraq had invaded and occupied Kuwait in 1990 before the U.S. could react. North Korea invaded and occupied large parts of South Korea in 1950 before the U.S. was able to counterattack. While U.S. defensive postures today are considerably better in both cases, a sudden invasion by either aggressor could still result in the loss of territory before the defense line stabilized. In the case of the Gulf in particular, forces that can drive an occupying army out of friendly territory, seize and hold that territory as the U.S. did in Desert Storm are required to bring a conflict to closure.

The experience in Desert Storm confirmed that ground maneuver forces are needed to liberate territory occupied by an aggressor. The punishing air strikes that the allied forces unleashed against the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait did a great deal to destroy forces, unit cohesion, and morale. Nevertheless, the conclusion of the war and the expulsion of the Iraqi army took place only when U.S. ground forces drove them out.

Liberating territory will usually involve crossing the border into the aggressor's territory to destroy enough of its combat power to end the war. Without this final phase, the liberated territory could continue to be held hostage to the aggressor's forces. Operating in the territory of an aggressor is risky militarily and politically. Militarily, there is a danger of U.S. forces being drawn in too far and becoming bogged down in internal conflict. More dangerously, a counterinvasion could bring U.S. troops too close to a third nation and threaten to trigger a response, e.g., a Chinese response were the U.S. to occupy North Korea. Finally, if the operation drags on too long, the U.S. could be perceived as overreacting, becoming an aggressor in its own turn, and could lose the support of the international community. An operation that penetrates into an aggressor's territory must have well-defined goals that can be articulated clearly and executed rapidly.

U.S. Marines raiding Mogadishu's Bakara market; among the weapons they found was a cache that filled a 21Ž2 ton truck

Operate in a theater at risk to WMD strikes

A growing number of nations in the Gulf region that might be hostile to a U.S. military deployment overseas possess weapons of mass destruction. An aggressor could threaten use of these weapons as a deterrent to U.S. forces deploying to defend allied nations in their region. Fear of a weapon of mass destruction could confound operational plans and undercut support in the U.S. for its presence in the region. It is thus critical that, in planning to fight in a region where the aggressor can threaten employment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the U.S. plan to minimize the risk inherent in the operation.

A number of approaches offer promise. While none by itself is adequate, a combination could limit the utility of WMD in the hands of a hostile nation.

Form and operate in a coalition

In any conflict far from U.S. shores, and in most military operations close to U.S. shores, political imperatives will drive the U.S. to co-operate with others even when U.S.forces alone are adequate militarily. This cooperation is a relatively straightforward matter when working with traditional allies, particularly U.S. NATO allies where the militaries have a long tradition of working together. However, recent conflicts, operation Desert Storm in the Gulf being an important example, have put U.S. forces in the field with coalition partners whose doctrine, technological sophistication, and equipment differ considerably from the U.S. An ability to work with these forces and complement their capabilities would be key to the success, both politically and militarily, of a combined operation.

That is not an easy task. For decades, the NATO nations tried to standardize equipment and, that proving impossible, tried to ensure that their equipment was interoperable. Even the relatively modest goal of ensuring that communications gear was interoperable, a goal that every nation recognized as critical to the success of allied operations, has been only partially realized. Still, the planning and exercising done with nations with whom the U.S. has a formal treaty alliance allows identification of problems and developing procedures to work around them.

Because of the Partnership for Peace program, military-to-military exchanges and a gradual augmentation of combined exercises are expanding the number of nations with whom the U.S. can plan combined operations in advance. This has already proven helpful in the former Yugoslavia where U.S. and other NATO troops are in the field with troops of Partnership nations.

Operations will be more awkward when the U.S. finds itself in the field with nations with whom it has not planned and exercised, and whose training, doctrine, and equipment are much different from its own. Two approaches are useful in addressing this problem.

Marines conduct a beach assault south of Mogadishu.

Enforce an exclusion zone or embargo

There will be some significant regional conflicts in which the United States is not involved but would want to ensure that the fighting does not spread. This would require establishing a firewall beyond which the warring parties are enjoined from operating. It could take the form of establishing a safe transit zone as in operation Earnest Will where the U.S. and its allies protected friendly shipping in the Gulf from attacks by Iran or Iraq. It could also take the form of enforcing a no-fly zone or a demilitarized zone on land to buffer neighboring states against the spread of fighting.

As a prelude to, part of, or postlude to a significant regional conflict, the U.S. typically will want to enforce an embargo to prevent military materiel from entering an aggressor nation. The U.S. might further want to restrict the flow of critical commercial goods to the country and prevent certain exports from flowing out. This action provides leverage to affect the outcome or limit the intensity of a significant regional conflict whether the U.S. is directly involved as a combatant or not. Moreover, when the conflict ends and a peace accord has to be reached, an economic embargo, or the threat of one, can be a powerful motivation to seriously negotiate appropriate peace terms.

Enforcing a military exclusion zone or an economic embargo requires the capability to monitor traffic on land, sea, or air. It requires the ability to blockade ports, limit air traffic, and control key overland transit points.

Troops arrive in Mogadishu.

Exploit defense engagement

Managing post-Cold War dangers mandates the less traditional mission of engaging military and defense establishments around the world to further the spread of democracy and to build trust and understanding among nations. Here, the results are less immediately tangible and the ramifications for future military force structure are minor, but the mission's importance to U.S. security policy is no less significant.

"Defense engagement" is a relatively new term that describes low-cost, low-
profile and non-combat political-military programs undertaken by both the armed forces and the Defense Department's civilian structure. These initiatives are designed to underscore U.S. commitment abroad, promote democratic ideals, strengthen civilian governance of defense institutions, improve collective military capabilities and relieve suffering.

The premise underlying this mission is two-fold. First, the U.S. is concerned about the armed forces in a world of emerging democracies. In many cases they are the most cohesive national institutions and often contain large percentages of the educated elite and control key resources. In short, these are institutions that can help support democracy or subvert it. Second, if the U.S. can build trust and understanding between military institutions in neighboring states, then trust and confidence between the nations themselves can follow.

The mission of defense engagement divides into two groups of initiatives. The first is Foreign Military Interaction (FMI), which includes military assistance; educating foreign officers and civilian officials; multilateral planning and training exercises in such areas as peacekeeping, disaster relief and national building; and a broad array of small-scale traditional activities undertaken by the five regional Unified Commanders. The second category combines defense civilian as well as military outreach programs initiated from the United States that constitute defense diplomacy. Examples range from high-level official contacts, such as counterpart visits and defense ministerial meetings, to joint staff talks, academic research in support of policy, and the sharing of professional management expertise with allies and friends.

As funding for foreign policy initiatives has contracted, U.S. reliance on defense engagement has increased. In terms of force structure, necessary capabilities focus on engineering, medical, civil affairs, military police, intelligence, and communications units, and foreign-area expertise.

Troubled states

The U.S. military has been called upon to help restore order and stability in troubled states where internal order has broken down and widespread fighting or natural catastrophe threatens large portions of the populace. Since the close of the Cold War, these missions have steadily occupied a portion of U.S. armed forces roughly equal to a division of army troops (including a group of special operations forces) with a more robust slice of combat service support than typical, a brigade of marines, a composite wing of tactical aircraft, and a modest sized flotilla of ships. All indications are that there will be more demands on the international community for operations to stabilize troubled states.

UH­60 Blackhawk helicopters pick up 10th Mountain Division soldiers in Haiti.

Maintain forces trained for peace operations

In many cases the skills required for peace operations are similar to those required for high intensity combat in a significant regional contingency. But this is not true in all cases. Peace operations often involve greater restraint and the measured application of force to avoid escalation--skills that are quite opposite to those a soldier learns in training for high intensity combat.

Peace operations are not a lesser included case of combat. They require maintaining a cadre of forces that can deploy promptly with skills appropriate to:

This can be done in two ways. A portion of the force can be earmarked for peace operations. With this as its primary mission, it would equip and train accordingly. In addition to basic combat competence, the troops would develop skills central to a peace operation, e.g., skills in negotiation. If a conflict emerged that was of higher priority to U.S. interests, the forces could be withdrawn and given refresher training to hone their skills in classical, high intensity warfighting. This approach is similar to that followed by the Scandinavian militaries who traditionally contribute military forces to peace operations.

A second approach is to rotate regular military units through training focusing on skills for peace operations. In the case of land forces, light infantry or mechanized infantry units could go through such a program on a scheduled basis so that a portion of the force structure is always current in skills unique to peace operations. This would avoid retaining the best soldiers in a unit that might not be regarded as part of the warfighting military.

Deploy support forces adequate to sustain a peace operation

There will be some operations that the United States wants to see succeed but which it is not appropriate for the U.S. to lead. In these cases the U.S. may well want to provide enabling capabilities to a regional organization or coalition that can provide competent, well disciplined ground forces but lack the support required to execute a complex contingency operation. Examples of enabling capabilities include:

Efficient use of these enabling capabilities would further require special forces specifically trained to work with and negotiate with the coalition forces.

Augment the host-state law enforcement capability

In the troubled state where stability has broken down, a critical ingredient to restoring it is a competent police force. This typically requires retraining or even creating an indigenous civilian constabulary force. While training a police force is not an appropriate mission for the military, military police, special operations forces or even regular military troops can help it maintain order while the police force is being recruited, trained, and introduced onto its beat. This mission has been critical in Bosnia and Haiti, to cite two examples. Military police and special operations forces units from the U.S. and other nations have been able to restore order and allow critical elements of the peace plans such as elections to proceed on schedule even as the new gendarmeries were still forming.

Provide humanitarian relief

The U.S. has committed military units to provide humanitarian relief to nations that have suffered from famine or drought, and to others that have suffered from the breakdown of internal order or civil war. In the former case, the military's contribution is primarily logistical: alone or working in cooperation with nations and international organizations to transport and distribute food, water, medicine, and other critical materiel.

Providing aid to a nation after civil war generally requires deploying combat units as well to ensure aid reaches its intended recipients and that those doing the distribution are not menaced or attacked. This need led to the deployment of combat forces to Somalia, Northern Iraq, and Rwanda.

Evacuate personnel from a troubled area

When order has broken down in certain regions, U.S. personnel have had to be evacuated. Most recently this has been the case in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Liberia. There the local law enforcement agencies were incapable of protecting U.S. citizens. Loss of control by a local government that can lead to rioting and the threat of attack on U.S. citizens can arise quickly. In these cases, U.S. forces could be called on to provide safe passage for evacuation of U.S. citizens and in some cases, other foreign nationals.

This requires special forces that can be inserted rapidly into a chaotic situation to direct an evacuation. In extreme cases, they will have to be backed by larger military forces to establish local order through force or intimidation long enough to complete the safe passage of the evacuees.

Troops setting up camp in Bosnia.

Transnational threats

Transnational threats drew scant attention from national security policy makers in the U.S. until after the close of the Cold War. More recently, attention has turned to the threat posed by terrorism, massive refugee flows, environmental degradation, narco-trafficking, and international organized crime to U.S. national security. The involvement of the military is embryonic in these areas and there is a lively debate over how deeply the military should be involved. Nevertheless, the problems posed by these challenges are likely to grow, so it is not too early to assess the limited role the military might be called upon to play by U.S. national command authorities.

Assist civilian authorities in countering terrorism

In the 1970s and 1980s the U.S. faced considerable terrorist activity sponsored by or supported by hostile foreign governments or foreign organizations. In recent years the U.S. has turned its attention to the threat from domestic terrorism. The bombing of the Murrah Federal Government Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 was the most destructive terrorist act in U.S. history. This was followed in 1996 by the detonation of a home-made pipe bomb in a crowded public park in Atlanta, Georgia, near the site of the Olympic Games. U.S. strategy for combating terrorism involves two approaches: antiterrorism and counterterrorism. The military has an important role to play in both.

Antiterrorist activity focuses on defensive measures to protect U.S. personnel and property. Effective defense of U.S. government deployments to troubled areas requires care that adequate defense is provided. Attacks and the threat of attacks on U.S. embassies and the bombing of U.S. armed forces in Lebanon in 1983 and in Saudi Arabia in 1996 underline the vulnerability of U.S. installations in troubled regions. Antiterrorist efforts alone are inadequate. The number of targets is so great that there will always be a vulnerability. Antiterrorist efforts must be coupled with counterterrorist efforts--offensive measures to deter and punish terrorist activity. Economic sanctions have been used against Libya and Iran to attempt to discourage them from supporting terrorist activity. But this policy has had limited success because other industrial nations have refused to join the embargo.

More direct counterterrorist efforts involve special operations forces trained for counterterrorist activities to include:

The utility of deploying these forces to respond to a terrorist action, or threat of a terrorist action, has to be weighed against political risks such as loss of American lives or embarrassment to an ally in whose nation the terrorist act took place.

Classical military forces also have a limited role in counterterrorism. U.S. Navy and Air Force aircraft attacked military, intelligence, and other government facilities in Libya in April 1986 in retaliation for its support of terrorist activity against the U.S. The political risk in such a raid is high. The U.S. must consider the response of the nation attacked (will it simply intensify its terrorist efforts?) and the response of the international community (will the U.S. be seen as overreacting and as an aggressor in its own turn?). The intelligence linking the nation to terrorist activity has to be highly reliable, and collateral damage that could involve innocent civilians during any such action has to be avoided.

The military's role in domestic terrorism has yet to be clarified as the imperatives to combat terrorism are weighed against concerns about the appropriate scope of military involvement in domestic law enforcement. As appropriate, the military can contribute technologies that detect weapons of mass destruction, forces expert in counterterrorism, and intelligence on foreign organizations that might support terrorism on U.S. soil.

While coordinated response to domestic terrorism will continue under the leadership of the Justice Department, the trend at present is to seek ways to secure greater help from the military. Congress has included $150 million in the FY 1997 Defense budget for the military to refine technologies that can detect and disable weapons of mass destruction and to be prepared to provide emergency assistance in cases where expertise resident in civilian law enforcement agencies is not adequate.

Manage refugee flow

The military has begun to assist in maintaining an orderly process of immigration and in controlling U.S. borders against the increasing flow of refugees, economic and political. Twice in 1995, the U.S. experienced a sizable migration of refugees fleeing to the U.S. from the Caribbean, first from Haiti, then from Cuba. At the same time on the U.S. southern border, illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America continues.

While there are legal restrictions on how much the military can assist in managing refugee and illegal immigration flow across U.S. borders, the demand for such assistance is great, and the military can complement civilian agencies. For example, the Navy can help the Coast Guard manage the flow of refugees heading for U.S. shores by sea. That requires broad area surveillance coupled with enough ships of the right type to ensure a high percentage of intercepts and an infrastructure, such as the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, to process the refugees with appropriate deliberation. The military can also assist in monitoring the U.S. southern border by sharing technology with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to detect border crossings, especially at night.


The review of likely flashpoints presented in this report reveals a complex security environment that is much changed since the end of the Cold War. Accordingly, the missions the military will be called on by national command authorities to execute will focus on different challenges. This in turn implies a different center of gravity of U.S. military forces.

In broad outline there will be a greater need for forces that can:

In contrast, compared to the cold-war era, there may be a diminishing need for:

The need for a strong, competent military as a key instrument of national power remains undiminished. But the sheer number and wide variety of missions the military are being called on to perform is striking and represent a considerable challenge. What is unmistakable is that forces that are more agile, more flexible, and more adaptable are called for.

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