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Eisenhower Series discusses power in an unpredictable world

Army News Service

Release Date: 9/29/2003

By Spc. Bill Putnam

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 29, 2003) -- Applying hard or soft power during a crisis is akin to the differences between bridge and poker, said Dr. Joseph Nye during his remarks on the first day of the Eisenhower Series lectures in Washington Sept. 25

"What wins in one game may not help in another," he said.

Using the military is hard power and economic aid and person-to-person exchanges are soft power, said Nye.

Held at the Ronald Regan Building in Washington, D.C., Sept. 25 and 26, the two days of lectures were co-produced by the U.S. Army and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Institute, named after the World War II leader and U.S. president.

This year's theme was "National Power in an Unpredictable World."

"Our strength as a nation is a product of our cultural, economic and societal needs that our leaders have invested in," said Gen. Pete Schoomaker, the Army chief of Staff, during his opening remarks Sept. 25. The lectures and panels over the two days discussed how to deal with failed states like Sierra Leone and Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq.

Trying to figure out the next set of needs and how to deal with them was the theme of this year's Eisenhower Series.

During his lecture, Nye, the dean of the John F. Kennedy School for Government at Harvard University, said the U.S. faces a "paradox of unrealized power."

For example, for all its power, the U.S. was still defeated by North Vietnam, and a shadowy group of terrorists attacked and greatly harmed the U.S. economically on Sept. 11, 2001, Nye said.

U.S. power today is a three-dimensional chessboard, he said. The top board is the U.S. military. The middle board is economic. The bottom board is all of the trans-national threats the world faces like narco- and human-trafficking, criminal gangs and terrorism, he said.

Those threats are also very organized and the bottom board is intruding on the other boards, Nye said.

"To play one-dimensional chess on a three-dimensional board, you'll lose," Nye said.

Although the military's job is hard power, it can also apply soft power through person-to-person and military-to-military contacts, Nye said.

"Cutting those back would be a terrible mistake," he said.

Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg said those military-to-military contacts are not only happening, but flourishing.

Lowenberg, the commander of the Washington National Guard, said he's been active in developing new technologies and units to redefine and keep the National Guard -- and the military overall -- relevant to the wars and struggles our country will face in the future.

As it moves from conventional to unconventional forms, warfare will change the way the U.S. military works, said Lowenberg.

The military will more than likely confront problems -- like narco- and human- trafficking -- that police traditionally tackled.

The National Guard, said Lowenberg, began addressing those issues through their state-to-state partnership program began in 1993. The partnerships are broken down by major command. Each of the state-controlled National Guards around the country now works with one or more nations around the globe. Some states work with African countries, others work with Asian or eastern Europe countries.

Washington works with Thailand.

Both conventional and unconventional units from the Army and Air Guard like Special Forces, engineers and medical personnel work with their Thai counterparts on public and animal health, disaster management and counter-drug operations, Lowenberg said.

"In the process, we engage non-military subject matter experts in Thailand," he said.

To call that partnership "nation building" would be out of vogue, Lowenberg said. What those partnerships are doing is addressing terrorism on its home turf in former Soviet Union, and South and Central America, he said.

"What we're doing is engaging the spawning grounds of terrorists," he said. "We want the competition to be an away game and not a home game."

Because they draw upon their own life skills, soldiers and airmen in the National Guard feel comfortable in their multi-faceted role, he said.

Now, if he were the enemy, Lowenberg would develop the means of attacking the U.S. infrastructure through the Internet.

"That could hurt us militarily and economically," he said.

To battle an unconventional threat like cyber-warfare, the U.S. military is going to have assume a "certain amount of risk" to transform while fighting the War on Terror, Lowenberg said.

By accelerating the end of the heavy units of Bradley fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks, and then in turn investing that money in more information operations and special operations, will the U.S. be better able to face the threat of terrorism, he said.

For instance, Lowenberg said, the Washington Army Guard has the first information operations warfare group. The Air Guard has its own "Information Operations Warfare Aggressor Squadron," Lowenberg said. That unit is simply airmen sitting at computer terminals attacking a terror group's ability to communicate over the Web, he said.

"I see that 'sunrise mission' as an increasing need for the U.S. military in coming decades," Lowenberg said.

Those sunrise missions are what Lowenberg said was a harbinger of the changes the military faces in the future.

The lethality of warfare is increasing while the platforms that deliver that lethality are decreasing. With that happening, the number of Soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines to maintain and operate that equipment will also decrease, he said.

That will cause the military to shrink, he said.

In Washington, he's trying to expand a combat engineer unit's mission beyond just military applications into something like combat search and rescue. That unit could possibly deploy to an earthquake zone outside of the country and help rescue survivors in collapsed buildings.

A Guard medical unit could be used to treat victims of a weapon of mass destruction incident, he said.

Those missions will expand and increase the life cycle of the units and the military as a whole, he said.

"So we're constantly trying to shape our future instead of reacting to it," Lowenberg said.

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