Marching toward the 21st Century: Military Manpower and Recruiting

By Mark J. Eitelberg; Stephen L. Mehay | Go to book overview

2
Military Strategies and Force Structure

Sam C. Sarkesian

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the superpower security system, 40 years of U.S. military strategy and force structure have become virtually obsolete. The shift from a European-oriented threat to undefined threats and challenges emanating primarily from non-European areas has created an uncertain security landscape. Thus, while the possibility of major war in Europe is considerably reduced, the possibility of conflicts throughout the non-European areas has increased. For the United States this shift in focus has yet to evolve into strategic coherency and relevant force structures.

This uncertainty was reflected in the views of General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When asked whether U.S. forces would be more or less likely to be ordered into battle in view of the decline of a comprehensive Soviet threat, Powell replied: "Haven't the foggiest. I don't know. That's the whole point. We don't know like we used to know." 1

Nonetheless, even with an uncertain strategic landscape and questions regarding U.S. national security goals, military strategies and force structures must be reshaped and redesigned. The military does not have the luxury of standing pat, waiting for a clarification of the security landscape and the certainty of a new world order. At the minimum, strategies and force structures must be attuned to the fluidity of the emerging landscape and must develop some congruence between military posture, new definitions of power, and the utility of military force.

As one authority has written: "The alternative policy of pragmatic muddling through until rather more elements of the problem have clarified themselves should not perhaps commend itself to the self-respecting analyst who believes that sufficient intellectual effort can resolve every political difference of interests, or at least usefully clarify the points of divergence, but it may be the least bad solution." 2

With this "least bad solution" as a conditioning factor, this chapter focuses on five components as they relate to future U.S. Army strategies and force structure in the new era: the strategic landscape; prevailing U.S. plans and perceptions in response to the new landscape; Army strategy and force structures--guidelines and reference points; conclusions; and reflections on what needs to be done.

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