Background and Basis
In both relative and absolute terms, since the end of World War II, the military strength and capability of the United States have never been greater. Yet this condition of virtual military superiority has created a paradox. Absent a massive threat or massive security challenge, it is not clear that this military advantage can (always) be translated into concrete political terms that advance American interests. Nor is it clear that the current structure and foundations for this extraordinary force can be sustained for the long term without either spending more money or imposing major changes to this structure that may exceed the capacity of our system to accommodate. As a consequence, the success of the current design and configuration of our forces may ironically become self-limiting and constraining. That is not to claim automatically that there are better military solutions or that the current defense program is not the best our political system can produce. It is to say, however, that we are well-advised to pursue alternate ideas and concepts to balance and measure against the current and planned program.
To stimulate and intrigue the reader, we note at the outset that one thrust of Rapid Dominance is to expand on the doctrine of overwhelming or decisive force in both depth and breadth. To push the conceptual envelope, we ask two sets of broad questions: Can a Rapid Dominance force lead, for example, to a force structure that can win an MRC such as Desert Shield and Desert Storm far more quickly and cheaply with far fewer personnel than our planned force both in terms of stopping any invasion in its tracks and then ejecting the invader? Can Rapid Dominance produce a force structure with more effective capacity to deal with grey areas such as OOTW?
Second, if achievable, can Rapid Dominance lead to a form of political deterrence in which the capacity to make impotent or "shut down" an adversary can actually control behavior? What are the possible political implications of this capability and what would this power mean for conducting coalition war and for how our allies react and respond?
Because Rapid Dominance is aimed at influencing the will, perception, and understanding of an adversary rather than simply destroying military capability, this focus must cause us to consider the broadest spectrum of behavior, ours and theirs, and across all aspects of war including intelligence, training, education, doctrine, industrial capacity, and how we organize and manage defense.
We observe at first that even with the successful ending of the Cold War, the response of the United States in re-evaluating its national security and defense has been relatively and understandably modest and cautious. In essence, while the size of the force has been reduced from Cold War levels of 2.2 million active duty troops to about 1.5 million, and the services have been vocal in revising doctrine and strategy to reflect the end of the Soviet threat, with the exception of emphasis on jointness, there are few really fundamental differences in the design and structure of the forces from even 10 or 15 years ago.
Throughout the Cold War, the defense of the United States rested on several central and widely accepted and publicly supported propositions. The "clear and apparent danger" of the Soviet threat was real and seen as such. The USSR was to be contained and deterred from hostile action by a combination of political, strategic, and military actions ranging from the forging of a ring of alliances surrounding the USSR and its allies to the deployment of tens of thousands of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.
Following the truce ending the Korean War, a large, standing military force was maintained and defined by the operational requirements of fighting the large formations of military forces of the USSR and its allies with similar types of military forces, albeit outnumbered. The role of allies, principally NATO, was assumed and taken into account in planning, although the paradox of the issue of planning for a long versus short war in a nuclear world remained unresolved.
Mobilization, as in World War II, was likewise assumed if the Cold War went hot while, at the same time, it was hoped that any war might be ended quickly. The largely World War II defense, industrial, and basing structure was retained along with the intent to rely on our technological superiority to offset numerical or geographical liabilities.
It was not by accident that this Cold War concept of defense through mobilization was similar to the strategy that won the Second World War and the literal ability of ultimately overwhelming the enemy using the massive application of force, technology, and associated firepower. Two decades later, Vietnam exposed the frailty of this approach of dependence on massive application of firepower especially when political limits were placed on applying that firepower.
Currently, Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 have been taken as the examples that confirm the validity of the doctrine of overwhelming or decisive force and of ensuring that both strategic objectives and tactical methods were in congruence. We argue that now is the time to re-examine these premises of reliance on overwhelming or decisive force as currently employed and deployed in the force structure if only as a prudent check.
Beyond prudence, however, it is clear that without a major threat to generate consensus and to rally the country around defense and defense spending, the military posture of the United States will erode as the defense budget is cut. Hence, relying in the future on what is currently seen to be as sufficient force to be "decisive" could easily prove unachievable and the results problematic or worse for U.S. policy.
The absence of a direct and daunting external security threat is, of course, a most obvious aspect of the difficulty in defining the future defense posture of the nation. The United States has long resisted maintaining a large standing military and the Cold War years could prove an aberration to that history. Extending this historical observation of small standing forces, it is clear that there is no adversary on the horizon even remotely approaching the military power of the former USSR. While we might conjure up nominal regional contingencies against Korea or Iraq as sensible planning scenarios for establishing the building blocks for force structure, it will prove difficult to sustain the current defense program over the long term without a real threat materializing to rally and coalesce public support. Allocating three percent or less of GDP for defense could easily prove to be a ceiling and not a floor. It should be noted that in Europe, defense spending is closing in on 1 to 2 percent of GDP.
Ironically, as the Department of Defense seeks to come to grips with this new world, the structural limitations and constraints in how we develop systems and procure weapons based on current technological and industrial capacity for producing them will be exacerbated by downward fiscal pressure giving us little room for mistakes and flexibility. Air, land, space, and sea forces are currently limited in the actual numbers and types of systems that are available for purchase and more limited in that there are virtually no new major systems on the horizon. That could change.
The M-1A-1 tank is in production only for foreign sales. Despite the allure of the Arsenal Ship, the Navy still has only four active classes of warships from which to replace its capability and, for the first time this century since aircraft entered the inventory, is without a new aircraft in development. The Air Force can be placed in similar straits if the F-22 program is deferred or canceled because of rising cost and fiscal constraints. Time will tell what happens to the Joint Strike Fighter. Assumptions about reliance on technology and R&D providing insurance policies for future defense needs may prove ill-advised if and as DOD is forced to cut back and reduce those programs even further. Indeed, over time, commercial R&D could become the main source for procuring software and other systems needed to upgrade today's weapons systems and for so-called "leap-ahead" technologies that may prove elusive to create.
There is also the crucial issue of revising or indeed developing new doctrine and military thought to deal with these changing circumstances. But, without a compelling rationale and with the clear bureaucratic and political pressures of preparing and defending an annual budget, more of the same (or more likely, less of the same) becomes an almost irresistible outcome. While the JCS or OSD or CINCs may have genuine need for jointly packaged forces that are rapidly deployable irrespective of Army, Navy, Marine, or Air Force labels, the services cannot be expected to reverse the years of viewing the world through service- specific arguments and doctrine.
Although the absolute danger has been dramatically reduced with the end of the USSR, it would be the height of folly to assume that there are no risks to the nation nor an absence of evil-doers wishing this nation harm. It would also be shortsighted to expect that potential adversaries are unintelligent and would not rely on superior knowledge of their environment and simplicity to overcome our current military and technical superiority much as the North Vietnamese did. In addition, as technology diffuses around, over, and under borders, our assumptions about guarantees of permanent technological superiority should welcome thoughtful examination.
Lenin asked the question, "what is to be done?" As a start, the United States should act to exploit the several major advantages it possesses. First, we have time. The clarity and danger of future threats is sufficiently removed for us to take a longer view. While we may have deferred adding to the inventory of future systems in development, current systems possess more than enough military capability to get us through this transition period, even if this period were to last for more than a decade. This does not mean we can rest on our oars; if we take advantage of this opportunity, time is on our side. If we squander this opportunity, then we could ultimately find ourselves in trouble.
Second, the combination of American technical know-how, the luxury of the best technically educated and trained society in the world, and the entrepreneurial spirit of our system offers vast potential if we are clever enough to exploit this extraordinary resource.
Third, because of significant changes in law and organization regarding the military, particularly the Goldwater-Nichols Act, and through a willingness to examine alternatives, the Department of Defense has actively sought new ideas and concepts. The enhanced role of the CINCs and the acceptance of jointness are positive illustrations. Yet, for understandable structural and political realities noted above, assuring productive innovation continues will not be automatic. Against these conducive signs, vision, true joint thinking, and tactical advances still are premium commodities to be nourished and encouraged.
In building an alternative intellectual concept, it is useful to rely on successful lessons of the past. For five decades, we have been successful in applying containment and deterrence in the Cold War. When deterrence or diplomacy failed as in Kuwait, then the use of force was inevitable. A first-order issue is how can we augment or improve the use of existing military capability should it be required.
Should force be needed, our proposal calls for establishing a regime of Rapid Dominance throughout the area of strategic as well as operational concern. By Rapid Dominance, we are seeking the capability to dominate, control, and isolate the entire environment in, around, over, and under the objective area as quickly as possible, and with fewer forces than currently envisaged, although direct insertion of forces is an important component depending upon the tactical situation. In many cases, this capacity need not be the traditional firepower solution of only physically destroying an adversary's military capabilities. Our focus is on the Clausewitzian principle of affecting the adversary's will to resist as the first order of business, quickly if not nearly instantaneously. A second goal would be to stop an attack during the first stages. A third goal, should it be achievable, would be to promote a regime of political deterrence that might restrain aggression in the first place.
To accomplish the rendering an adversary incapable of action means neutralizing the ability to command; to provide logistics; to organize society; and to function; as well as to control, regulate and deny the adversary of information, intelligence, and understanding of what is and what is not happening. This means we must control all necessary intelligence and information on our forcesthe ultimate form of stealthand on an adversary's forces as well and then exploit total situational awareness for rapid action.
Regarding the emergence of current military thought and doctrine, as implied earlier, warfare today may be in the early and far less mature stages of a major revolution than is generally assumed. It is understandable that despite major strategic reassessments, current doctrine is still highly influenced by Cold War tactics and strategy and perhaps by the iron grip of the history of conflict since the early 19th century.
Since Napoleon, the conduct of war between major states has been largely dominated by combining industrial might with vast amounts of manpower over time and space. The United States advanced Napoleon's use of industry and mass armies in the Civil War and our planning up to the Cold War tended to follow this same pattern. World War II, of course, exemplified the triumph of this industrial, mobilization, and massive use of force approach.
In the evolution of U.S. military theory, it can be argued that this model combining massive industrial might and manpower finally ended in 1989. Although, by then, technological advances to conventional military capabilities seemed to be approaching the destructive power, or more precisely, the system lethality of nuclear weapons. In other words, modern non-nuclear precision weapons perhaps could produce effects against enemy targets roughly comparable to the military lethality of theater-level nuclear weapons. If this condition proves true, could this new lethality fundamentally change the construct for designing American doctrine and strategy? This question is at the heart of the "precision and battlefield awareness" school of decisive force thinking that believes that this fundamental change is in place.
Since the end of the Cold War and, with it, the end of the need to prepare our forces to fight a more or less equally powerful adversary, the United States military has conducted two post-Cold War crises against lesser adversaries quite differently than it fought the Cold War. In the Panama intervention in 1990 and in Kuwait shortly thereafter, the suggestion of newer and different methods of warfare was present. Perhaps both will turn out to be transition campaigns, where there is much of the old, but also signs of the new. But there are specific pieces of evidence that should command our attention.
Underlying the planning for Operation Just Cause in Panama and Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait was the premeditated incorporation of a series of rapid, simultaneous attacks designed to apply decisive force. The aim was to stun, and then rapidly defeat the enemy through a series of carefully orchestrated land, sea, air, and special operating forces strikes that took place nearly simultaneously across a wide battle space and against many military targets. The purpose of these rapid, simultaneous attacks was to produce immediate paralysis of both the national state and its armed forces that would lead to prompt neutralization and capitulation.
In both Just Cause and Desert Storm, the United States (plus coalition forces in Desert Storm) had such overwhelming military capabilities that, in retrospect, the outcome was largely a matter of drafting a cogent and coordinated operation plan based on using the entire system of capabilities, and then executing that plan to produce a decisive victory. The Haitian incursion in 1995 used similar principles of intimidation to eliminate any real fighting. However, in Desert Storm unlike Haiti, it took the U.S. and its allies nearly 6 months to deploy over a half million troops before the fighting began.
The recently published JCS Pub 3.0 and the U.S. Army's 525-5 Pamphlet reflect and exploit operational rapidity and simultaneity. Yet, progress in these operational directions may be in danger of faltering if only old Cold War yardsticks are used to make future force investments and to direct studies about future force structure and associated infrastructure. As in any transition period, innovation must be joined by a willingness to experiment. This means the establishment and cultivation of an experimental apparatus to test and evaluate new concepts are matters of importance both to foster innovation and assess its application.
We build on the trends of rapidity and simultaneity and seek to emphasize control and time. Control is necessary to force behavioral change in adversaries to achieve strategic or political ends. Control and then influence come from a range of threats and outcomes, including putting at risk the targets an adversary holds dear, to imposing a hierarchy of Shock and Awe, to affecting will, perception, and understanding. Achieving control may now be theoretically possible in even more compressed or shortened time periods because of the potential superiority of enhanced U.S. military capability and further training and education. To obtain this level of military superiority that can affect the adversary's will and perception, or at least achieve the practical military consequences, a great deal of thought, debate, and experimentation over new concepts will be needed if only to test and validate contemporary doctrine.
If the political objective is to achieve a level of Shock and Awe beyond only temporary paralysis, then further actions must follow. The end point will be to dominate the enemy in such a way as to achieve the desired objectives. From this concept follows the need to shut down either a state or an organized enemy through the rapid and simultaneous application (or threat of application) of land, sea, air, space, and special operating forces against the broadest spectrum of the adversary's power base and center or centers of gravity and against the adversary's will and perception at tactical and strategic levels.
In Desert Storm, the objectives were first to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait and then to restore the legitimate government. From these objectives, more limited strategic and political objectives followed, some for purposes of maintaining coalition solidarity and UN-imposed sanctions. Not occupying Baghdad was one such political limitation. These strategic objectives led to identification of the enemy's centers of gravity as the basis for the application of force to destroy these centers. This planning led to the repeated, rapid, and simultaneous use of massive force with great effect.
One obvious tactical objective was to eliminate Saddam Hussein's command and control. This was accomplished by simultaneous and massive attacks. Once command and control was destroyed, Iraqi forces in the Kuwait Theater of Operations (KTO) would be destroyed as quickly as possible with overwhelming force and with minimum casualties. As General Colin Powell simply stated, "My plan is to cut off Saddam's army and then kill it."
There was no sanctuary for Iraqi forces in the KTO. They were completely vulnerable to unrelenting and devastating attack. Outside the KTO, targeting was more selective, not because the means were unavailable for imposing sufficient damage but because our military objectives were purposely limited. Given the effectiveness of the air campaign and the overwhelming superiority on the ground, coalition land forces required only 4 of the 41 days of the war to defeat and to eject Iraq's forces from Kuwait.
Suppose a Desert Storm-type campaign were fought 20 years from now based on a plan that exploited the concept of Rapid Dominance. Further assume that Iraq has improved (and rebuilt) its military and that, in a series of simultaneous and nearly instantaneous actions, our primary objective was still to shut Iraq down, threaten or destroy its leadership, and isolate and destroy its military forces as we did in 1991. However, two decades hence, Rapid Dominance might conceivably achieve this objective in a matter of days (or perhaps hours) and not after the 6 months or the 500,000 troops that were required in 1990 to 1991. Rapid Dominance may even offer the prospect of stopping an invasion in its tracks.
Shutting the country down would entail both the physical destruction of appropriate infrastructure and the shutdown and control of the flow of all vital information and associated commerce so rapidly as to achieve a level of national shock akin to the effect that dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on the Japanese. Simultaneously, Iraq's armed forces would be paralyzed with the neutralization or destruction of its capabilities. Deception, disinformation, and misinformation would be applied massively.
This level of simultaneity and Rapid Dominance must also demonstrate to the adversary our endurance and staying power, that is, the capability to dominate over as much time as is necessary less an enemy mistakenly try to wait it out and use time between attacks to recover sufficiently. If the enemy still resisted, then conventional forms of attack would follow resulting in the physical occupation of territory. Control is thus best gained by the demonstrated ability to sustain the stun effects of the initial rapid series of blows long enough to affect the enemy's will and his means to continue. There must be staying power effect on the enemy or they merely absorb the blows, gain in confidence and their ability to resist, and change tactics much as occurred during the WWII bombing campaigns and the air war over North Vietnam.
Achieving these levels of Shock and Awe requires a wide versatility and competence in employing land, sea, air, space, and special operating forces and in investment in technology to produce Rapid Dominance. Different methods for commanding the battle using both hierarchical and non-hierarchical command to control and direct our forces are likely to be required especially given the simultaneous application of capabilities throughout the given battle space by the full spectrum of our forces. To use these combinations of forces will require adjustment of current service doctrine and prescribed roles and functions. Rapid Dominance also means looking to invest in technologies perhaps not fully or currently captured by the Cold War paradigm.
To develop the proper combination of forces and future technology investment for Rapid Dominance, extensive experimentation with this core concept will be required. This exper-imentation must apply to all levels of military educational institutions; it must be joint; it can be accelerated by availability of recent advances in simulation technology; and it must have operational trials in the field.
To advance this concept, technology and its infrastructure and application are vital. Here, understanding several facts is important. The U.S. today is graduating through its college and universities system approximately 200,000 American and foreign scientists and engineers per year. This is a great national resource. This technology infrastructure is dimensions larger in number and scope than the aggregate of anywhere else in the world. Through appreciation and exploitation of this potential, a U.S. position of pre-eminence in science and technology could be assured for the foreseeable future.
One adjunct of this technology revolution is in the information and information management areas which, in the U.S., are heavily commercially oriented. Future military application may well be analogous to the impact of the internal combustion engine and wireless radio on land, sea, and air forces in the 1920s and 1930s. The size of this technological lead between ourselves and the rest of the world, especially in the base for new information products and services, should widen further in knowledge and in application. The "Silicon Valley" revolution is likely to continue increasing computer capacity on an almost annual basis. By the year 2005, computing power should be many fold times today's capacityperhaps ultimately beginning to close in on the ability of humans to handle data flow as well as the ability to condense and synthesize data.
In parallel to advances in computing power will be the ability to transfer information into and out of the hands of individual users. The addition of virtual reality and other technical aids will enhance and potentially quicken individual decision-making ability. Technologies associated with bioscience and bioengineering are likely to be of particular importance in enhancing these capabilities and are also an area of American predominance. Material sciences, software, and communications are all American strengths, and should remain so well into the next century.
A significant element supporting this explosion in applied information and other technologies is the American free enterprise system and its entrepreneurial character. This drive is needed to translate this technology into military hardware. The nature of the U.S. market and its competitive basis reinforce this element. The largest challenges may be to shape and exploit this commercial potential and then to ensure that its enduring advantages become fundamental in the makeup of our military forces. Unlike the defense industrial base required during the Cold War, this new commercial base is neither heavy nor is it a massive industry relying on producing large things. Indeed, its edge has depended on getting "smaller, smarter, and cheaper."
The fundamental technology thrust for channeling this new American industrial base to support Rapid Dominance must be toward the control and management of everything that is significant to the operations bearing on the particular Area of Interest (AOI). And we mean everything! Control of the environment is far broader than only the objective of achieving dominant battlefield awareness. Control means the ability to change, to a greater or lesser degree, the "signatures" of all of the combat forces engaged in the AOI. With this concept, the operational frameworks in applying force across the entire spectrum of platforms (satellites, aircraft, land vehicles, ships) can be measured (and controlled) from many minus decibels of cross section, to many plus decibels; communications can be entirely covert, i.e., many dB less than the ambient environment, or that approaching "white noise." The location of both the individual and his unit can be measured in real time in meters, if not feet, anywhere in the world. Through virtual reality, movement in three-dimensional grids over hundreds of square kilometers, offer precise location and movement control, both during day and night in conditions of unprecedented confidence. This occurs in real time. Denying or deceiving the adversary, including real-time manipulation of senses and inputs, is part of this control.
A Rapid Dominance-configured force would enter an AOI and immediately control the operational/environmental signatures both individually and in the aggregate. As needed, line and non-line-of-sight weapons of near pin-point accuracy would be delivered across the entire area of operation. Stealthy UAVs and mobile robotics systems, together with decoys, would be deployed in large numbers for surveillance, targeting, strike, and deception and would produce their own impact of electronic Shock and Awe on the enemy. This application of force can be done as rapidly as political and strategic conditions demand.
The effects mean literally "turning on and off" the "lights" that enable any potential aggressor to see or appreciate the conditions and events concerning his forces and, ultimately, his society. What is radically different in Rapid Dominance is the comprehensive system assemblage and integration of many evolving and even revolutionary technical advances in dominant battlefield awareness squaredmaterials application, sensor and signature control, computer and bioengineering applied to massive amounts of data, enable weapon application with simultaneity, precision, and lethality that to date have not been applied as a total system. Deception, disinformation, and misinformation will become major elements of this systemic approach.
The R&D reality is that technology advances will likely come from the commercial world as the DOD base continues to shrink. It is clear that in certain areas, DOD must remain involved where there is no private R&D or to fill gaps in R&D. Warships, fighter aircraft, tanks, and missile defense are examples. However, advances in commercial technology in the Information Age are unlikely to be matched by DOD.
Of equal importance is how we train, organize, and educate our combat officers and key enlisted personnel. Command must be geared to achieving the best of the bestnot the best among the good. Assimilating in real time the vast amount of information and putting information to use will no doubt lead to major changes in the composition, competence, and authority of (even and especially) individual military unit commanders perhaps to the squad or private soldier level.
Of course, even with the most perfect information, an unqualified, inexperienced, or unprepared military commander may not win except with extraordinary luck or an incompetent foe. And, we repeat that there are cases where NO military force may be able to succeed if the objectives are unobtainable. The match of the entrepreneurial individual with the potential of the technology base is key. Optimizing and integrating all elements into a total system is a certain way to exploit the opportunity that we can perceive becoming more visible in the coming years.
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