Building Partnership Capacity through Advanced Education

By Ord, Robert L., III | Army, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Building Partnership Capacity through Advanced Education


Ord, Robert L., III, Army


The present war demands that armed forces reassess the nature of conflict and chart a path to victory that differs from a 20th-century strategic culture. In this effort, the ideological dimension of the present war stands foremost. The contribution of advanced education in the U.S. Department of Defense remains critical to the strategic needs of our armed forces. The Naval Postgraduate School (NFS) in Monterey, Calif., has emerged as a center of excellence in the advanced study and application of defense matters. Further, the school has aided in the building of security alliances and coalitions as well as the capacities of our coalition partners and allies to understand an elusive and resourceful enemy.

While we struggle to understand our current security threat, we must define who it is we are fighting. Terrorists capitalize on asymmetric tactics to target U.S. interests of both economic and symbolic importance. Looking abroad towards Iraq and Afghanistan, this hidden enemy has forced us to grapple with questions of war, democracy, society and religion that have previously been alien to many men and women in uniform. For much of the 20th century, this country and its military grew accustomed to definable opponents who mounted a predictable order of battle. The age of the Cold War and an adversary with clearly defined borders has given way to sleeper terrorist cells and groups who hide in mountain gorges and allied states.

The National Security Strategy of the United States, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report and Department of Defense Directive 3000.5, all published in 2005 and 2006, acknowledge this shift and the need for U.S. forces to embrace the strategic and operational complexity inherent in the preservation of national security in the 21st century. These works highlight the need to build partnership capacity to share the burden of collective defense and security building with the United States, to keep the peace in the wake of conflict and to conduct so-called stability operations. Victory in this long, global struggle against terrorism demands fresh thoughts and new strategies. Diverse terrorism movements have increased the sense of chaos among the world's democracies and seem to profit from the absence of a central command, making combat against them extremely difficult.

In the 20th century, the armed forces of the United States grew into a monumental trinity of sea, land and air missions that focused on encountering the opponent's (more or less) identical forces. In the 21st century the missions have given way to joint operations. Each of the services must share its strengths with its counterpart forces as part of what the QDR calls a "21st-century total force."

Today, the center of gravity in the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism and its terrorist offshoots is what the National Security Strategy identifies as the need to win the battle of ideas. Those in direct conflict with the United States and its allies subscribe to a violent creed that draws its destructive power from various societies around the globe, uneasy with open ideas, democratic institutions and free markets. Enemy combatant leaders have arisen from educated and comfortable social classes and are able to formulate aggressive ideals of violent anti-modernism and religious warfare, making the Arab middle class one battleground in the war of ideas. The goal of U.S. strategy must be to deny this class to the extremists. Operationally deployed men and women of the U.S. forces must have a more acute and sophisticated appreciation of the geopolitical, economic, cultural and political dimensions of conflict. Enlisted members, NCOs and company grade officers will likely have intensive contact with foreign nationals, and their conduct will reflect directly on the United States.

The path to victory in this battle of ideas must include advanced education, applied on dual fronts. In the first instance, DoD recognizes that "foreign leaders who received U. …

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