The National Military Strategy

By Kroesen, Frederick J. | Army, August 2004 | Go to article overview

The National Military Strategy


Kroesen, Frederick J., Army


The publication of "A Strategy for Today, A Vision for Tomorrow" by the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff provides some substantial guidance for the achievement of the goals and objectives of our National Security Strategy (NSS) that are dependent upon our ability to employ military power. In effect, this document establishes our National Military Strategy (NMS) in furtherance of the National Defense Strategy (NDS) published earlier by the Secretary of Defense.

In simple terms, the President wants help to make the world better, not just safer. he wants to win the war against terrorism, using all the elements of national power-political, economic, psycho-social and military-in an "active strategy," while fostering the cooperation of allies, partners and friends in a global effort and simultaneously improving our capability to prevent attacks on our homeland.

The Secretary of Defense translates that guidance into four objectives for the armed forces:

* Secure the United States from direct attack.

* Secure strategic access and global freedom of action.

* Establish security conditions for international order.

* Strengthen alliances.

The Chairman then directs the services to:

* Win the war on terrorism. Act now to stop terrorists before they attack again; root out international terrorists; eliminate their bases of operation; counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and establish a global antiterrorism environment.

* Enhance our abilities to fight as joint forces, creating a seamless total force. Strengthen our multinational collaboration.

* Transform our forces "in stride," fielding new capabilities, adopting new concepts and combining technology, intellect and culture to ensure the development of forces able to generate decisive results.

The NMS document then expressed in more detail the priorities, threats to our security, campaign capabilities and the parameters of force design and size, expressed as 1-4-2-1 (defend the homeland, deter forward in four regions, be capable of two, almost simultaneous "swift campaigns" and win decisively in one of them). It ends with a short paragraph that begins "appropriately resourced, this strategy will achieve the goals of NSS and 2004 NDS, effectively balancing military and strategic risk over the long term."

That final paragraph, in two words-"appropriately resourced"-sums up one of the two great problems for providing an adequate defense posture. The other is the design of the structure needed to accomplish the 1-4-2-1 strategy. There should be little doubt that some inadequacies exist, certainly in the Army, when those two requirements are studied. The extensions of overseas commitments, the short cycles of repeating deployments of units, the retraining and commitment of artillerymen and others to infantry and military police duties, stop loss, repetitive call-ups of reserve component forces and most recently, the recall of individual reservists from the Individual Ready Reserve furnish conclusive evidence that the Army structure is hardly adequate for today's mission load. …

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