Academic journal article Military Review

Effects-Based Operations and the Exercise of National Power

Academic journal article Military Review

Effects-Based Operations and the Exercise of National Power

Article excerpt

THE WORLD is connected globally in societal, economic, governmental, and infostructural and infrastructural terms. As the United States faces 21st-century adversaries and national security challenges, it must acknowledge these threats as being distributed, networked, urban, and different from the 20th-century, nation-state, and military-power constructs it has historically organized against. Acting against such threats in traditional ways will be too costly, slow, and destructive. Adversaries will increasingly use new forms of warfare, network-based organizations, and exponentially increased levels of destructive effect to wage war.

Effects-based operations, as a core competency of future warfare, will leverage allies' kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities with global reaching effects. Current and future generations of officers, interagency partners, and the Nation need to understand, enhance, and embrace existing and emerging technologies and techniques that enable these capabilities. The military must now establish--in the mainstream defense community--new doctrine, organizations, training, leadership, materiel, and personnel systems to ensure the Nation is prepared to execute and defend against emerging forms of warfare.

Glimpsing the Future

We must hold our minds alert and receptive to the application of unglimpsed methods and weapons. The next war will be won in the future, not in the past. We must go on, or we will go under.

General Douglas A. MacArthur (1)

Envision warfare so transformed as to be almost unrecognizable, even by starry-eyed visionaries. In the kinetic realm, robots fight robots. In the nonkinetic realm, our chemicals defeat their chemicals, and our electrons overwhelm their electrons. Is this possible or plausible?

Clearly, future capabilities of combined and standing joint task forces (SJTF), coupled with specialized strike elements, will leverage the power of kinetic and nonkinetic weapons in future battlespace. Some battlespace will be located within sprawling urban environments and some will be against state and nonstate entities or both. Some of the capabilities used to achieve future desired effects might not be classed currently as weapons. Other battlespaces might be in the spaces between neurons or electrons. The cutting, burning, irradiating, poisoning, piercing, and concussion effects that enlivened combat in the 20th-century will persist, and other forms of engagement and effects will be added. Some weapons will be nonkinetic and will substitute for some of the fire and maneuver of times past.

Kinetic weapons, as defined here, are weapons whose effects are transmitted by the motion of a substance, such as a projectile, a shock wave, or heat. Departing from the conventional definition, nonkinetic weapons include--

* Sticky foams.

* Graphite bombs.

* Cyber weapons.

* Microwaves.

* Directed energy.

* High-energy radio frequency strikes.

* Calmatives.

* Acoustic weapons.

* Stink bombs.

* Antitraction and antireaction chemicals. (2)

These items will be transformational once they become available, although they are less interesting as technologies and more interesting because of their capacity as surrogates for kinetic fires and traditional maneuver.

The attacks of 11 September 2001 illustrate a global terrorist group's ability to conduct swarming attacks using the World Wide Web and E-mail for coordination and planning. Terrorists used U.S. soil and commercial schools for advanced training, ATM systems to access funds, and U.S. airliners as explosive projectiles. (3) Print, cyber, and televised media became a real-time dissemination system for imagery and battle damage assessment, even offering postoperation-effects analysis for the adversary.

Commercial and public goods and services become the means with which to conduct war as well as being the targets of war by nonstate actors, whether or not they are terrorists, narcotraffickers, organized crime figures, or eco-activists. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.