Academic journal article Parameters

Serving a Nation at War: A Campaign Quality Army with Joint and Expeditionary Capabilities

Academic journal article Parameters

Serving a Nation at War: A Campaign Quality Army with Joint and Expeditionary Capabilities

Article excerpt

"The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish.., the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that it is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive."

--Clausewitz, On War

America is a Nation at war. To win this war, we must meld all elements of our national power in a determined and relentless campaign to defeat enemies who challenge our way of life. This is not a "contingency," nor is it a "crisis." It is a new reality that Soldiers understand all too well: since 9/11, they have witnessed more than a battalion's worth of their comrades killed in action, more than a brigade's worth severely wounded. Their sacrifice has liberated more than 46 million people. As these words are written, the Army is completing the largest rotation of forces in its history, and all 18 of its divisions have seen action in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, or Ira@ We have activated more than 244,000 Soldiers of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve in the last two years, and more than a division's worth of Soldiers support homeland security missions. Over 300,000 Soldiers are forward-deployed. Like our Nation, we are an Army at war.

For any war, as Clausewitz pointed out, it is essential to understand "the kind of war on which [we] are embarking." Although the fundamental nature of war is constant, its methods and techniques constantly change to reflect the strategic context and operational capabilities at hand. The United States is driving a rapid evolution in the methods and techniques of war. Our overwhelming success in this endeavor, however, has driven many adversaries to seek their own adaptive advantages through asymmetric means and methods.

Some enemies, indeed, are almost perfectly asymmetric. Non-state actors, in particular, project no mirror image of the nation-state model that has dominated global relationships for the last few centuries. They are asymmetric in means. They are asymmetric in motivation: they don't value what we value; they don't fear what we fear. Whereas our government is necessarily hierarchical, these enemies are a network. Whereas we develop rules of engagement to limit tactical collateral damage, they feel morally unconstrained in their efforts to deliver strategic effects. Highly adaptive, they are self-organizing on the basis of ideas alone, exposing very little of targetable value in terms of infrastructure or institutions. To better understand such a war, we must examine the broader context of conflict, the competition of ideas.

A cursory examination of the ideas in competition may forecast the depth and duration of this conflict. The United States, its economy dependent on overseas markets and trade, has contributed to a wave of globalization both in markets and in ideas. Throughout much of the world, political pluralism, economic competition, unfettered trade, and tolerance of diversity have produced the greatest individual freedom and material abundance in human history. Other parts of the world remain mired in economic deprivation, political failure, and social resentment. Many remain irreconcilably opposed to religious freedom, secular pluralism, and modernization. Although not all have taken up arms in this war of ideas, such irreconcilables comprise millions of potential combatants.

Meanwhile, not all former strategic threats have vanished. In the Far East, North Korea's nuclearization risks intensifying more than 50 years of unremitting hostility, and many others pursue weapons of mass destruction. We confront the growing danger that such weapons will find their way into the hands of non-state groups or individuals. Armed with such weapons and with no infrastructure of their own at risk, such "super-empowered individuals" could be anxious to apply them to our homeland. …

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