Academic journal article Military Review

Warriors without a War: Defending OOTW

Academic journal article Military Review

Warriors without a War: Defending OOTW

Article excerpt

It has been axiomatic since the United States' founding that the Armed Forces' peacetime mission is to prepare for the next war. Since the mid 1980s, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, joint doctrine has required the Armed Forces to prepare "for the effective prosecution of war and military operations short of war."1

In the editorial introduction of the January 1988 Military Review, Major General Gordon R. Sullivan, Deputy Commander, US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), later Army Chief of Staff notes that the military is "charged" by the doctrine, not only with the preparation of forces for war, but also in operations that do not constitute war.2 In that respect, Sullivan contends that the military would have to redefine its role in an environment where the use of force would be "dominated by nonmilitary considerations." In his lead article in the same Military Review issue, Colonel Richard Taylor, director, Department of Joint and Combined Operations, CGSC, sketches the contours of operations short of war: "Such operations are interdepartmental, political, economic and informational [and] undertaken to carry out strategic or tactical tasks to attain political purposes and to frustrate those of an adversary in an environment of routine, peaceful competition or [low-intensity conflict (LIC)]."3

Since the 1991 Gulf War, the United States has intervened militarily in five "invitational crises" that did not constitute war. Two crisesKurdistan and Rwanda-manifested "armed humanitarian intervention." Two others-Haiti and Bosniaamounted to "nation building." In Somalia in 1993, armed humanitarian intervention transmogrified into nation building-with disastrous results. The cumulative effect of these operations other than war (OOTW) on US national security policy and strategy, therefore US military strategy, has been substantial.

This article examines the impact of peace support and humanitarian operations on the US military within the context of the evolving strategic environment; the origin and nature of institutional resistance to these operations; and the implications for military doctrine, force structure and readiness. This examination suggests some interesting questions. What are the roots of US military strategy and doctrine? What are the parameters of peace support and humanitarian operations that comprise OOTW? Is the institutional heritage of the Armed Forces reconcilable with OOTW requirements?

This essay posits that the US military's conventional heritage and predisposition will remain intact and drive decisions affecting doctrine, force structure and readiness and, therefore, affect the Armed Forces' ability to effectively conduct OOTW missions. A corollary position is that effective employment of generalpurpose US forces in OOTW can be achieved through conceptual innovation. To begin to understand this dynamic, as well as arrive at any conclusions and recommendations, the questions must be placed in historical context.

OOTW and the American Way of War

Russell Weigley, in his benchmark work The American Way of War, writes that Prussian military and political theorist Carl von Clausewitz is the author of American military strategy.4 The Clausewitzian paradigm narrowly focuses on using military means in war as the shortest route to attaining political objectives-achieving victory through maximum concentration of force in decisive battle. "The military power [of an enemy] must be destroyed, that is, reduced to such a state as not able to prosecute the war."5 Although Clausewitz acknowledges the importance of other means, they are subordinate to military means.

Clausewitz's theory of war has deep roots. In a remarkably insightful, but often overlooked, book, The Western Way of War, Victor Hanson argues persuasively that the Western democratic heritage and the concept of decisive battle are two sides of the same coin.6 The origin of the Western military ethos-and by extension the American military ethos-is traceable to 5th Century BCE [before common era] Greek phalanx warfare "where men in the West first drew themselves up in dense formation, charged, killed . …

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