Academic journal article Military Review

The United States Military in Limited War: Case Studies in Success and Failure, 1945-1999

Academic journal article Military Review

The United States Military in Limited War: Case Studies in Success and Failure, 1945-1999

Article excerpt

THE UNITED STATES MILITARY IN LIMITED WAR: Case Studies in Success and Failure, 1945-1999

Kevin Dougherty, McFarland & Co. Jefferson, NC, 2012, 227 pages, $40.00

THROUGHOUT ITS HISTORY, and especially since 1945, the U.S. military has engaged in far more low-intensity conflicts than conventional wars. Recognizing this, the 1993 edition of U.S. Army Field Manual 100-5, Operations, recognized a separate category known as operations other than war. Although this term has fallen out of favor, retired colonel Kevin Dougherty argues for the continued validity of the principles it represents: perseverance, objectivity, security, unity of effort (for coalition operations), legitimacy, and restraint.

To explore this topic, the author considers eight dissimilar military actions of the post-war era. Four generally were successful--U.S. assistance during the Greek Civil War, the 1958 intervention in Lebanon, the 1965 Dominican Republic intervention, and the 1980s confrontation with Marxist Nicaragua. Four operations failed: the pacification aspects of Vietnam, and ill-defined interventions in Beirut (1982-1983), Somalia, and Haiti. Dougherty's conclusions sometimes seem self-evident, but they are useful. The keys to success, he argues, are perseverance, objective, and sufficient security to protect the troops while helping convince the population the operation is legitimate. …

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