Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

The National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism: An Assessment

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

The National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism: An Assessment

Article excerpt

The National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism (hereinafter referred to as the NMSP or Plan), released by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) on February 1, 2006, sets out the Pentagon's broad strategy for executing, and presumably winning, the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The NMSP can be viewed as an elaboration of part of the larger and more holistic set of policies spelled out by the Department of Defense (DoD) in its June 2005 Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support. The Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support envisions a layered approach towards homeland defense and security based on a distinction between: Forward Regions, Approaches to the U.S., the U.S. Homeland and the Global Commons (space and cyberspace). 1 Although the NMSP does not specifically position itself within the rubric of the larger June 2005 strategy paper, its focus on attacking terrorist networks abroad, strengthening international governance and creating a global environment inhospitable to terrorists suggest that it should be viewed as a DoD articulation of the "Forward Regions" component of the overall strategy.

This article will focus on the Pentagon's "Forward Regions" strategy through analysis of the NMSP. The Department of Defense, of course, recognizes that combating the terrorist threat to the United States and its allies requires an approach that differs in many critical ways from the approaches needed in order to effectively carry out conventional warfare and even counterinsurgency warfare. An effective homeland security strategy, first and foremost, requires the military to "team-up" with civilian intelligence, law-enforcement, and, for specific missions, with emergency service and public health agencies as well. With the exception of the National Guard, much of the military is largely unaccustomed to this effectively unprecedented role in which the Pentagon must "share power" with civilian entities. The Department of Defense has attempted to cope with this quandary by supporting the distinction between "homeland defense" and "homeland security." A cynic might maintain that this distinction has been created in order to enable the Pentagon to retain "ownership" of a major part of the overall effort at securing the American homeland from terrorist threats and, at the same time, to enable it to play an important role under certain circumstances as the lead agency and under others as a supporting agency in domestic security and response activities. Of course, the DoD must also comply with U.S. law (which limits the military's domestic role) and, equally importantly, avoid irritating public and congressional sensibilities with respect to the power and influence, real or perceived, exercised by the military.

Potential motives aside, it is doubtful that many would argue that protecting the United States from terrorism should not require a holistic approach in which the firefighter trained to deal with a possible chemical attack in an American city and the special forces soldier trained to attack terrorist hideouts in some remote corner of the globe are viewed as part of the same overall mission. The National Strategy for Homeland Security recognizes this continuum in its emphasis on prevention, reduction of vulnerability to attacks that do occur, and swift recovery from attacks. 2 Homeland Defense and Homeland Security should not, therefore, be viewed as different strategies, but rather different ends of a continuum that moves from the international arena, to the North American land-mass (and associated offshore areas), to the domestic arena.

Nevertheless, if we attempt to somewhat artificially separate Homeland Defense from Homeland Security, we are still confronted with a lack of clarity as to the precise role the military must play. The DoD's Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support places the military in the lead role with respect to "defending the maritime and air approaches to the United States and protecting U. …

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