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Instruments for Shaping

Upheavals of the late 20th century--the information revolution and the related collapse of communism--have released forces of change that have benefited the United States. Now, capitalizing on its economic and technological resurgence, its open political system, and its military strength, the United States can influence further change in a direction fruitful for itself and for others that embrace political and economic freedom. When required to use military power, the United States must do so effectively and judiciously. The Armed Forces, when engaged abroad in peacetime, can exert a positive influence on other states and thus on the international security environment.

Flexible Power

While conditions and trends are currently favorable to the United States, uncertainties abound in the international environment. Will the allies of the United States become true partners or instead free riders? Will the large transition states complete their reforms and integration, or will China turn hostile and Russia begin to unravel? Will rogue states be swept away by forces of political and economic freedom, or will they become more dangerous because of their access to the technology spreading through the global economy? Will the number and severity of failing states diminish or grow, as states are either drawn into or left out of the global economy?

The answers are of course profoundly important for U.S. interests, including the goal of an expansive, secure, responsible commonwealth of free-enterprise democracies. If the answers turn out well, the goal is achievable. If they turn out badly, the international security environment will be significantly worse than today's. So the stakes are very high for the United States to use its strong position to shape the environment--not only the perception and behavior of rogues but of core partners and transition states as well.

The shaping and responding (e.g., operational) functions of forces must be in harmony. Peacetime deployments must support U.S. plans for reacting to contingencies. If as well the United States is purposeful in tailoring those deployments to improve the international security environment, it is less likely to be faced with the need to use force yet more likely to succeed if it must. For instance, had all U.S. forces been removed from Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO's successful peacekeeping in Bosnia might have been precluded and war might today rage throughout southeastern Europe. To avert future Bosnias, the United States must continue to adapt its military engagement in Europe to the changing political landscape there and to NATO's changing purposes.

During the Cold War, the functions of U.S. forces in shaping and responding were inseparable, though simpler concepts--deterrence and defense--sufficed in those simpler, static times. The forward defense posture that was then maintained to reassure allies, increase American influence, and give the Kremlin pause, was also right, if deterrence failed, to mount a defense against Soviet aggression. The United States placed large forces at contested points along the East-West frontier (the inter-German and inter-Korean borders, the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean) where the danger was greatest. Because the United States could not project enough power fast enough to thwart Soviet power wherever it was massed, deterrence came from the combination of forward presence and, if that were breached, the threat of nuclear weapons.

In contrast, the United States now has superior conventional military means over every foreseeable adversary. It can project sufficient power worldwide to protect its interests. In a fluid age, with the United States increasingly integrated into the global economy, such reach and flexibility are indispensable. The United States cannot predict who will be tomorrow's adversaries, which of its far-flung interests might need protection, and thus where it may need to dispatch its forces. It lacks the sharply drawn defense perimeter it had when East confronted West. Today's core already extends beyond the free world of Cold War years and is still expanding.

Southeast Asia is a good illustration of the demands of the new era. Whether that region was of vital interest during the Cold War became a source of bitter national debate. Today, despite their current financial woes, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines are considered important parts of the world economy; their surrounding waters increasingly are essential trade routes. Would the United States use force to defend these countries or waters? Perhaps. Does it need the capability to protect its interests if threatened in this emerging region? Yes. Yet neither regional politics nor the U.S. defense budget permits permanent basing in that region of the forces that might one day be called on to respond to contingencies there. Nor, thanks to the U.S. ability to project power, is it militarily critical to keep forces there. Of course, reliance on flexibility must be, and is, accompanied by U.S. intelligence capabilities that can detect potential crises, keep threats under surveillance, and discern subtle trends.

Generally speaking--there are important exceptions--the military logic of stationing fixed forward forces is less compelling in the late 1990s than in the past and could become even less so tomorrow. Today's uncertainty about the location of threats grows sharply as one peers into the future. In response, U.S. forces are built for rapid deployment. New technologies and joint warfare doctrine permit U.S. forces to pack, or call in, greater punch per unit. As these forces are made more lethal, they become leaner and still more mobile, reducing the purely military necessity for U.S. dependence on large-scale forward presence.

From Presence to Engagement

While global economics has replaced global confrontation as the justification for a robust international role for the United States, the need remains as great as ever. The engagement of U.S. forces abroad is part and parcel of that role. As the world watches for signs that the United States may drift toward isolationism, as it did between the two world wars, peacetime deployment of its military forces is read as a litmus test of its intentions. The involvement of U.S. forces in key regions--Europe, Eastern Asia, and the greater Middle East--is essential to preserving U.S. influence with its core partners, having a voice in regional institutions, and maintaining power balances. The end of U.S. military engagement could trigger competition for power in Eastern Asia, coercion of oil-producing states by regional bullies in the Middle East, and unraveling of European cohesion. Fortunately, the prevailing view in the United States is that international retreat would be imprudent and that any shifts in where and how U.S. forces are engaged should be incremental.

But the desire for continuity cannot obscure the need for change. The primary rationale for U.S. military engagement abroad is shifting--the defense of South Korea being the main exception--from protecting allies against invasion to building new partnerships within the core and encouraging transition countries to join it. This rationale justifies large permanent concentrations of U.S. forces in Western Europe and Northeast Asia, where the United States has its strongest friends (NATO and Japan) and can engage the biggest transition states (Russia and China), even though these regions are not the most threatened. In the greater Middle East, where the most severe threats exist, the United States can operate smaller forces, thanks to its ability to project power. Thus, there is by design a generally looser fit in U.S. plans for responding to military contingencies and the location of a permanent U.S. presence overseas.

Although U.S. troops no longer need to defend Western Europe, where more than 100,000 remain based, they can stage from there to defend any of Eastern Europe's new democracies, protect the vital oil supplies of the Persian Gulf, or restore peace in the southern Balkans, areas where no large U.S. forces are permanently based. Of course, if it had to do so, the United States could respond to most plausible military contingencies in and around Europe with forces dispatched from U.S. soil. But such forces could not foster cooperation with NATO allies, interact with transition states, and avert future Bosnias. Staging from Europe increases the likelihood that U.S. troops would have the forces of its European partners alongside, operating in a well-prepared coalition.

Similarly, although the direct threat to Japan has faded, U.S. forces stationed there play a wide role in regional security, both because they can stage from there and because they can work with their Japanese counterparts. The case for maintaining U.S. forces in Japan is therefore based on the need not only to anchor an enduring core relationship but also to respond to potential military contingencies in the region with the support of this key partner.

With the end of the Cold War, the purpose and function of U.S. forces abroad have moved beyond deterrence to shaping a world in flux, with deterrence but one aspect of a more dynamic strategy. Stationary presence, implying fixed forces facing a predictable threat along immutable lines, is no longer a sufficient concept. To shape, U.S. forces need to engage. A world too fluid for future military contingencies to be pinpointed is also fluid enough to offer the United States opportunities to affect international politics. With the core of free-market democracies expanding, once-threatened allies becoming capable partners, and over half the world, including China, India, and Russia, in transition, the engagement of U.S. forces includes permanent overseas stationing but increasingly depends on how those forces operate.

Shape and Respond

A key challenge of the late 1990s is to harmonize the crisis-response and environment-shaping functions of U.S. forces. Sizable forces should in any case be deployed internationally for operational reasons; no military logic would confine them to U.S. territory while they are welcome elsewhere. Even with advances in mobility and lethality, U.S. forces staging from Europe, East Asia, or elsewhere can intervene more quickly than U.S.-based forces in nearby contingencies, thus strengthening deterrence. Logistics and C4ISR infrastructures must also be widely distributed to enable U.S. combat forces to respond to crises worldwide. Consequently, the United States can maintain and even improve its ability to shape the international security environment in a manner consistent with its military operational requirements, without relying exclusively on fixed stationing

USS Nimitz, Persian Gulf

If stationary defense no longer represents the essence of U.S. military power, as it did during the Cold War, what does? The ability of the United States to project robust joint forces virtually anywhere and to maneuver and strike decisively, with the benefit of information dominance, is now the defining U.S. capability. It is backed up by an able national defense establishment, characterized by strong civilian authority, responsive military professionalism, efficient allocation of resources, and effective personnel policies. Combined, these essential operational and institutional capabilities can, if skillfully stressed, play a central role in U.S. strategy to shape the international security environment.

To understand how these U.S. capabilities can shape that environment, the place to begin is by analyzing the environment, globally and regionally and how U.S. military power can affect it. The forces of the United States currently stationed overseas reflect where its vital interests are clearest, its troops most welcome, and its most capable coalition partners located, but not necessarily where the most acute dangers are, apart from Korea. In contrast, U.S. forces are not stationed in two unstable and potentially dangerous regions--the former Soviet Union and Africa--where they would not be especially welcome and where the U.S. people would not be keen to have them based. Finally, in what is now the most insecure region of all, the greater Middle East, the United States maintains some forces but only a fraction of those it might use in a major crisis there. This is not to suggest that there ought to be some grand realignment of U.S. peacetime military presence and activities; the current overall pattern remains the right one. But it does suggest a need to refine U.S. environment-shaping strategies for key regions.

Russian bomber destruction

General Framework Goals

Overall, international change has favored and should continue to favor U.S. interests and ideals. Therefore, the United States should not assume the classic stance of a status-quo power. Nor should its goal be to defend "unipolarity," since doing so could cast the United States in the futile role of trying to stymie the rise of other powers, such as China. Indeed, if U.S. efforts to shape the world with its power are seen as heavy handed or hegemonic, the backlash would not only frustrate those efforts but also damage the standing of the United States despite its power.

Rather, the United States should use its opportunity and means to help build a prosperous, secure, and responsible commonwealth of nations, committed to political and economic freedom, encompassing most of the planet. As suggested in chapter one, the U.S. stake in the world can be described as four key interests:

The U.S. stake also includes norms of responsible state behavior that reinforce these interests and represent what this
Nation stands for--norms that are shared by U.S. partners, offered to the transition states, rejected by rogue states, and the basis of multilateral action to help peoples whose states fail.

These global interests are evident in the objectives of U.S. environment-shaping strategies in the world's regions:

Dismantling Russian missile
*In Europe, the goal is to draw U.S. friends--some still in transition--into a new partnership, based on a recast Atlantic alliance, in order to consolidate security in Europe and project security elsewhere.

*In the greater Middle East (including Southwest Asia), it is to avert conflict in a region fraught with instability, rogues, terrorist networks, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and dangers to the oil supplies on which the world economy depends.

*In East Asia, it is to defuse the remaining Cold War confrontation in Korea, build a new partnership with Japan, and encourage the transformation, integration, and responsible behavior of a more powerful China.

*In the former Soviet Union, it is to foster reform and integration of the new independent states, while protecting against the potentially dangerous consequences of a failure of transition in Russia.

*In the Western Hemisphere, it is to bring the region firmly into the core and, more broadly, to strengthen reform by engaging Latin American military establishments in a partnership of increasingly shared interests within and beyond the region. Reducing the threat from nonstate actors is a major concern for all the states in the hemisphere.

*In Africa, it is to work with core partners and responsible African states to prevent state failure, promote reform and transition where possible, and enhance multilateral means to come to the aid of human beings when such failures occur.


The United States can advance its interests and norms in many ways. For example, promoting free trade can improve the health of the core, avoid rivalry among the three great economic powers, draw in emerging nations, including China and India, and help ease the abject poverty that can cause states to fail. Similarly, peacetime international engagement of U.S. military forces, as part of a larger strategy, can affect attitudes, conditions, and trends in many ways. Here are some examples:

*Iran, Iraq, Libya, and other rogues might find it easy to coerce their neighbors, especially moderate Arab states, were it not for the awareness that the United States will not stand for it. The demonstration of U.S. military power in the greater Middle East heightens that awareness, thereby encouraging would-be victims to resist coercion while causing rogues to contemplate the risks of their recklessness.

*The ability of the United States to chart new directions for its alliances in Europe and Northeast Asia depends on an active role for U.S. forces in planning, exercises, and operations side-by-side with its partners' forces. That involvement can help induce partners to accept greater international security duties in ways that complement U.S. responsibilities.

*Intraregional initiatives, like the European Union (EU), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), will develop with both confidence and an interest in cooperating with the United States, if its force posture conveys that U.S. engagement in regional security is neither less nor more than what the countries of those regions want.

*Proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons would accelerate if every nation that perceived a threat from these weapons were to acquire them in order to fend for itself. By giving confidence to friends and allies, through the engagement of its conventional and, where relevant, nuclear forces, the United States can slow the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

*Reform of the military establishments of former Warsaw Pact countries, a crucial element of the larger process of political transformation, can be facilitated by their peacetime exposure to the operational and institutional qualities of U.S. forces and military personnel.

Such examples suggest that U.S. forces can shape the international environment in five basic ways:

Deterring Conflict

During the Cold War, avoiding conflict essentially meant deterring the Soviet Union and its proxies from trying to expand communism's dominion. Today, it still includes that sort of deterrence--convincing would-be aggressors that the risks of threatening U.S. interests outweigh possible gains--but it does not end there. It also means using U.S. power to dampen instabilities, cool tempers, win acceptance of norms against aggression, and discourage the violent settlement of disputes.

The formula for deterrence is not complicated. U.S. forces engaged abroad remind rogue states that aggressive behavior can produce a punishing U.S. response. Iraq, Libya, and Serbia have experienced it, and others surely have taken note. Although basing large U.S. forces everywhere conflict could occur is no longer feasible or necessary, they can be deployed in a way that permits the prompt arrival of enough force to convince a rogue that aggression would precipitate war with the United States. Designing forces for rapid deployment--lean, highly mobile, and able to summon heavy remote firepower--is essential to the new security environment.

Avoiding conflict with the large transition states faces the United States with a delicate and more complex challenge--and, given their size, a profoundly important one. The United States is attempting to persuade and help these states to complete their transformation. It does not wish them to perceive U.S. power as aimed at them. In the cases of China and Russia, the United States is careful not to suggest that its forces in Eastern Asia and Europe, respectively, threaten their national security or are part of a strategy of containment. This sensitivity largely explains why the United States does not intend to station significant forces on the soil of new members of NATO, close to Russia, as well as U.S. caution regarding intervention in Russia's "near abroad." It also explains U.S. assurances to Beijing that the United States and Japan are not aligned against China.

But the U.S. force posture should also convey a message to transition states that threatening, rather than joining, the core could lead to confrontation with stronger forces. The need to send this dual message argues for having U.S. forces interact with their Chinese and Russian counterparts, as they are working with Russian forces in NATO's Bosnia operations. The U.S. intent is cooperation, yet its forces' qualities will not escape the notice of their counterparts. Engagement can strengthen deterrence without being provocative, which is particularly important vis--vis China.

Promoting Cooperation

Bolstering confidence was not complicated during the Cold War: America's allies knew that any attempt to coerce or attack them would immediately involve the United States. Although this still holds for a few cases today--South Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia--most U.S. partners no longer have reason to feel threatened by direct aggression. The awareness of available U.S. forces can help convince Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and other key friends that the United States remains steadfast in its interest in their security and in the stability of their regions. Such confidence helps the United States persuade those partners that they need not pursue other security arrangements, such as a European alliance based on the EU outside NATO.

Does instilling confidence still require the fixed stationing of large combat forces on the soil of secure allies? The United States has no such presence in the United Kingdom, Israel, or Canada, yet in British, Israeli, or Canadian minds the durability of their special relationships is unquestioned. Why does this not apply to Germany and Japan, where the largest concentrations of U.S. forces abroad are? Are these two countries still different today because of the damage they did to world security half a century ago? In a sense, yes--not because either is a shaky democracy or cannot be trusted, but because both are now major economic-political powers that, owing to the continuing role of the United States in their security, have eschewed nuclear weapons. Although the United States wants Germany and Japan to be viewed and treated as ordinary countries, each accepting a greater, fairer share of the responsibilities of international security, it does not wish to disturb a formula that works.

Confidence within the core today has less to do with territorial security than with the safety and smooth functioning of international markets, transportation links, energy grids, information networks, and other systems that make up the anatomy of the global economy. Because these systems are transnational, they are inherently vulnerable to threats from rogue states, modern "pirates," and sinister non-state actors. The argument in some circles that the United States has no business using its forces unless vital interests are at stake ignores the fact that any unraveling of the world economy from lost confidence could be devastating. Military capabilities alone cannot guarantee economic security; but international engagement of U.S. forces, supported by intelligence systems to detect dangers, discourages attacks and bolsters confidence.

The formula for imparting confidence to friends has included deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe--thousands of them during the Cold War, a few hundred now. Although these weapons were once considered crucial to deter attack by massive Soviet forces a stone's throw from West Germany, the question is whether they still are needed today, in radically different and more secure circumstances. The presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany, under dual-key controls, satisfies nearly all Germans that their state does not need its own nuclear weapons. Yet the formerly prominent role of U.S. nuclear weapons around the world is greatly diminished. Chapter twelve addresses the future of U.S. nuclear weapons in shaping the security environment, given the proliferation of nuclear and also biological and chemical weapons.

Improving Coalitions

The United States has declined to be the world's sheriff. Its friends need to bear international security responsibilities commensurate with their wealth and their equity in the core's health, security, and norms. If they assume that the United States will support both their burdens and its own, they may not rise to the task. Yet if they lose confidence in the resolve or capacity of the United States, the effect may be much the same. This situation requires that the United States engage its partners in creating a new core security coalition, retaining their confidence while disabusing them of complacency.

Thus, the main justification for maintaining large U.S. forces in Europe and Japan has shifted from protecting allies to fostering defense partnerships. Even when the United States has vital interests at stake, as when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and menaced Saudi Arabia, U.S. citizens expect allies who share those interests to sacrifice as well. This demand will grow if the spread of weapons of mass destruction threatens higher casualties. At some point, U.S. willingness to use force could hinge on the willingness and ability of its core partners to do so also.

It is not enough for coalition forces to satisfy the politics of equitable burden-sharing, they must also be militarily effective. U.S. forces in Europe, under the NATO flag, are critical to preparing with allied forces for effective combined defense of common interests, within or outside Europe. European skeptics wonder whether the U.S. interest in building a new military coalition means that the United States wants to provide the leadership, command and control, strike power, and mobility while its European allies provide the ground troops--and thus the casualties. Such a division of labor would be neither militarily nor politically sensible. Instead, the allies should improve the mobility, technology, and joint doctrine of their own land, air, and naval forces, so that they and U.S. forces might operate seamlessly.

The prospects for increased allied contributions to global security are best in Europe, although U.S. forces in Japan and Korea also can encourage improved, complementary allied capabilities. Without raising worries about Japan's independent offensive capabilities or overstepping its legal and political self-restraints, Japanese forces could contribute more to both regional security and peace operations within the U.S.-Japan security agreement.

All friends of the United States--large and small--European, Asian, hemispheric, should be able to collaborate with the United States in peacekeeping and other military operations short of war, as discussed in chapter ten. Whether through the UN, NATO, other regional institutions or bilaterally, the United States can use its forces in peacetime to enhance the ability of the forces of core and transition countries to join in multilateral operations. When no U.S. vital interests are at risk, public resistance to the involvement of U.S. troops can be allayed if the United States is acting as part of a competent multilateral effort.

Yet the United States cannot simply assume that its partners will build suitable forces, or that they will be made available merely because the U.S. believes a particular crisis merits a multilateral response. Nor can the United States pare its own combat forces in the mere hope that its allies will make up the difference. To increase the likelihood of joint action, the United States will need to fashion with its partners common strategies toward common security problems, including how to deal with key rogues, WMD proliferation, and potentially failing states. In parallel, the United States and its principal partners should engage in contingency planning, force planning, interoperability programs, and combined exercises, in an effort both to enhance confidence in its partners' serious intent and to improve operational effectiveness.

Syrian in NBC gear

Limiting Threats

As chapter eleven explains, adversaries may try to outmaneuver the United States by exploiting its vulnerabilities or changing the mode of conflict to de-emphasize their own deficiencies. U.S. forces can constrain such asymmetric threats by convincing adversaries that attempting to gain an edge is fruitless and risky. To take a key example (addressed in chapter twelve), rogues seeking weapons of mass destruction must be made to believe that, in any event, the United States can still project power while protecting its forces (such as with theater missile defense). The peacetime engagement of U.S. forces also can help convince at least "rational" rogues that using such weapons will bring devastating (possibly nuclear) retaliation. If the use of these weapons comes to be seen as prohibitively risky, rogues may be less inclined to acquire them.

Tailoring the U.S. force posture so it does not provoke unnecessarily a threat greater than might otherwise exist requires walking a fine line, especially with the large transition states. China, for example, needs to know that an attempt to unite Taiwan with the mainland by force would risk war with the United States. Yet were the U.S. force posture in East Asia to appear threatening to China, irrespective of Chinese behavior, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) might escalate investment in its power-projection capabilities and in strategic nuclear forces that could be targeted on U.S. territory. The end result could be a diminished U.S. ability to help Taiwan defend itself.

Similarly, although Russia now lacks the means to field conventional forces capable of threatening U.S. interests, were it to regard U.S. forces in Europe, Eastern Asia, and the greater Middle East as a threat to Russia, it might further increase its reliance on nuclear, and perhaps chemical and biological, weapons. The engagement of U.S. forces in peacetime inevitably sends a message to the large transition countries. Simply stated, the United States wants to make clear that its forces would be threatening only if these countries threaten U.S. interests, U.S. friends, or regional and global security.

Reforming Defense

Efforts to reform defense establishments have been a U.S. priority since the end of the Cold War, when the opportunity first appeared to help new democracies transform their economies and politics. Because in the old communist states the military establishments were entrenched, pampered, inbred, and bloated, reforming them, however crucial, has been frustratingly slow. While unreformed militaries can act as a brake on larger processes of transformation, reformed militaries are more likely to honor international norms and cooperate with counterparts in the core. The need for defense reform may be clearest among the former Warsaw Pact nations, yet reform is desirable among all formerly authoritarian states, whether in Latin America, East Asia, the Middle East, or Africa.

While reform has many facets, its sine qua non is civilian control of the military. Without that, democratization can be derailed by "old-guard" officers, to whom change is anathema. No other defense reforms can be implemented until civilian authorities have the confidence, clout, and information to set direction and ensure that it is followed. Once an officer corps is ready to answer to elected leaders, it can help implement other reforms: restructuring forces in line with legitimate national defense needs; improving quality by, if necessary, reducing the size of forces; instituting efficient and accountable management of resources; creating personnel systems that reward only merit; and staying out of politics altogether.

U.S. forces embody the professionalism, accountability, and efficiency other defense establishments can emulate to benefit their own countries, their neighbors, and the United States itself. The more deeply U.S. forces are engaged in helping stimulate and mold reform in the militaries of transition states, the more likely these states are to become capable coalition partners as their transition proceeds. Yet only a few transition states--mainly, the former Warsaw Pact members--admit to the need for reform. Others consider such "internal" matters to be off-limits to U.S. efforts. Paradoxically, the greater a nation's need to reform its military establishment and strengthen civilian control, the less forthcoming it may be in seeking help. In Latin America, for example, political leaders sometimes are not confident enough to demand reform, including U.S. help, if their militaries resist. The engagement of U.S. forces with their counterparts, sensitively and without condescension, can strengthen reform-minded military officers and political leaders, thus improving the climate for basic reform.


With these as the purposes, how can U.S. forces--built and maintained to respond to both major theater wars (MTW) and smaller scale contingencies (SSC)--shape the international security environment? Where should they be deployed? How and with whom should they operate in peacetime? How can their capabilities be showcased both to impress and reassure, to appear threatening to some states but not to others? What mix of permanent basing, rotational deployment, maneuvers, and other training, coalition operations, distributed infrastructure, C4ISR networks, and personnel exchanges would serve U.S. purposes in shaping the environment, while also supporting its military strategy and plans for responding to actual contingencies?

To succeed over the long haul, strategies for shaping environment should emphasize key U.S. military strengths and reflect U.S. strategy for responding to operational demands. The goal is to remind others of essential U.S. qualities and that the United States can and will bring them to bear if need be. During the Cold War, the United States sought to demonstrate that Soviet aggression would automatically collide with U.S. power--conventional, and if necessary nuclear. Large, fixed forces posted along the East-West divide were central to this military and political strategy. In contrast, during the 19th century, Great Britain made certain that the rest of the world knew it had the means to control the seas, protect its empire, and intervene to ensure a balance of power on the European continent. British strategy depended on naval supremacy and crack expeditionary forces, not on a large-scale fixed presence in Europe or elsewhere. In both cases, success was achieved peacefully, because the capabilities to prevail if tested were known to exist. War-fighting and strategies for shaping the environment were integrated--as those of the United States in the post-Cold War era must be.

As mentioned earlier, the U.S. capability to respond to a full spectrum of operational military demands centers on several key features of combat power.

Troops boarding C141 Starlifter 

Power Projection Capacity

Much of the total U.S. defense program is dedicated to the capabilities to deliver military power wherever required, specifically depending on four things:

Information Technology

As the world leader in information technology, the United States has an edge in:

Superiority in information technology enhances the other defining aspects of U.S. combat power, and its superior intelligence systems provide enough warning to enable the United States to avert or respond to crises in a timely manner without having to station forces everywhere conflict might occur.

Joint Doctrine

From the battlefield to the corridors of the Pentagon, from strategy and programs to operational command and execution, the value of jointness among the several services has been proved. In effect, each component of the adversary's forces is up against the combined potential of all U.S. force components. This advantage will be even more pronounced in the future, as individual sensors, platforms, and weapons are melded into a "system of systems," with ground, sea, air, and space dimensions.


The ability of U.S. forces to maneuver into position and strike deep, with precision, often from platforms beyond enemy range, permits the projection of power into hostile battlefields. It multiplies the power of forces on the battlefield and enables U.S. units to overpower and destroy large units, leaving an enemy defenseless. Strike power depends on having an abundant arsenal of accurate weapons distributed among an array of delivery platforms and, of course, on having C4ISR to orchestrate their use.

Robust Forces

Although the United States does not maintain the world's largest military, its forces, when concentrated, are sufficiently imposing in size, quality, and readiness to achieve victory quickly. With technology added to this large force structure, U.S. strength is compounded. Given the complex demands on U.S. military personnel and the growing role of knowledge technologies, the quality of personnel, already a distinct edge, will be even more important in the future.

A Model Establishment

The reality as well as the image of U.S. military strength is bolstered by the effective management of the U.S. defense establishment. Other countries--core and transition--recognize the virtues of political accountability and of the transparency and efficiency with which the Department of Defense allocates resources and makes procurement decisions. They are impressed, too, by the professionalism of the U.S. military, its unquestionable subordination to civilian management, and its ability to recruit, motivate, and retain high-quality people. Because other states may wish to adopt such a model, these attributes of effective defense management, although not combat capabilities, have a role in U.S. strategy for shaping the international environment.

These defining aspects--five operational, one institutional--are relevant not only during wars and other military contingencies, but every day. When other states think about U.S. military power, these are the strengths the United States wants them to ponder. The current peacetime deployments of U.S. forces provide ample opportunities to engage and demonstrate these capabilities. Sizable forces are permanently stationed abroad, mainly in Europe and Northeast Asia. Other forces have been deployed to and may remain in crisis-prone regions, particularly the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Naval, air, and ground units routinely operate internationally to train, maintain readiness, and exercise with allied forces. The United States can share with other states and their armed forces the principles, methods, and systems that undergird sound defense management and military professionalism. Joint planning and military intelligence offer insights into how the United States sees the world and operates in it. Military-to-military contact, including exchanges and visits, can create personal rapport, understanding, and even lasting ties.

The next six chapters examine, region by region, U.S. interests, conditions, and trends bearing on those interests, and on the Nation's defense capabilities and activities that may advance and protect them without recourse to deadly force. Each regional strategy represents the nexus between U.S. foreign policy and military strategy. The goal is an overall strategy for shaping the international environment under American leadership that is as sound, coherent, and successful as that of Great Britain in the 19th century and of the United States in the second half of the 20th century.

Weaving the Strands

A strategy for shaping the security environment requires consideration of how several key aspects of U.S. power can be applied to produce desirable effects among core, transition, rogue, and failing states in each region. Although the challenges involved are complex and cannot be reduced to simple display, the representations on this page and the following page illustrate how environment-shaping strategies can be constructed:

These notional strategies correspond well to the current patterns of U.S. overseas force deployments and related activities: the concentration of forces in Europe and East Asia; the need to stress robust power projection in the Middle East; and cooperative initiatives in the NIS, Latin America, and Africa. They indicate the importance of engaging U.S. forces and other defense resources in support of reform and transition which nations in every region have undertaken. Finally, they are careful not to flex U.S. military muscle where it is unnecessary and could be counterproductive, as in the NIS, Africa, and Latin America. Overall, these perspectives emphasize the importance of a dynamic approach in which the U.S. military interacts with core and transition states, thus providing the theme: beyond presence, to engagement.

The chapters that follow detail strategies by region and make the case for an interactive approach. The flux in post-Cold War international politics--especially the emergence of core partners and uncertainties surrounding the large transition states--suggests that this approach is imperative.

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) on Shaping

"In addition to other instruments of national power, such as diplomacy and economic trade and investment, [U.S. forces] have an essential role to play in shaping the international security environment in ways that promote and protect U.S. interests. Our defense efforts help to promote regional stability, prevent or reduce conflicts and threats, and deter aggression and coercion on a day-to-day basis in many key regions of the world. To do so, the Defense Department employs a wide variety of means, including: forces permanently stationed abroad; forces rotationally deployed overseas; forces deployed temporarily for exercises, combined training; military-to-military interactions; and programs such as defense cooperation, security assistance, IMET [International Military Education and Training program], and international arms cooperation."

Credibility: Still Important, but a Different Calculus

The demonstrable ability to project superior forces must be accompanied by credibility. In the Cold War, the key to credibility was the physical presence of U.S. troops in the presumed paths of Soviet aggression. Now it depends more on when and how that military power is used than on where it is garrisoned--as the Gulf War, Bosnia peacekeeping mission, and Taiwan Strait crisis show. Cold War allies might have worried about whether the United States would be willing to risk a global nuclear war, unless U.S. forces were literally on the front line. Allies and adversaries today have less reason to doubt that the United States would send its forces against inferior enemies, provided its interests are important enough to warrant the expected casualties

Shaping Strategies for Space

The region of space has extensive economic, political, and military implications for U.S. national security. The principles that apply to the use of space include the following:

Strategies for shaping the security environment in outer space include the following:

*Avert conflict. Global or virtual presence in space requires placing monitoring devices in space rather than on the ground, to provide a continuous, non-intrusive presence worldwide. This enhances the ability to easily and cost-efficiently monitor treaty compliance, troop and equipment movement, WMD development, testing, and deployment, while denying enemies the ability to achieve strategic surprise.

*Enhance confidence and cohesion within the core. The primary area of cooperation is the shared early warning of ballistic or theater missile launches. A secondary area includes the sharing of imagery, weather data, and ensuring communications interoperability. By engaging with countries that have no space forces, the United States can cooperate and maintain a global presence despite the absence of terrestrial forces deployed. Agreements within the core of allies designed to permit the denial of space capabilities to future potential adversaries, coupled with the effective demonstration and application of space power, could go a long way in curbing international and regional adventurism.

*Create complementary military capabilities. Global partnership and cooperation are necessary for the future of space capability development through joint ventures between states and commercial entities. Promoting access to space among core partners ensures increased interoperability, further reducing demands on U.S. systems worldwide.

*Shape the strategies and capabilities of real and potential adversaries. The ability to monitor events in near real time provides a significant advantage over conventional means of monitoring. Promoting the expansion of commercial systems increases the economic dependence on space, limiting the ability of rogue states to deny the use of space to a single state by spreading responsibility for the security of everyone's space assets.

The region of space is integral to the core states' efforts to attain security and maintain military, civil, and economic interests. Protecting this asset is vital. While adversaries accelerate efforts to attain the capability to interrupt or destroy space systems, the United States can exert shaping forces on their strategies by ensuring that an increasing proportion of the world community is interdependent on space capabilities. This increases the safety and security of U.S. forces, thus enhancing national security interests.


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