Where commonality of interest exists, nations will enter into political, economic, and/or military partnerships. These partnerships will occur in both regional and worldwide patterns as nations seek opportunities to promote their mutual national interests or seek mutual security against real or perceived threats. Cultural, psychological, economic, technological, and political factors all influence the formation and conduct of alliances and coalitions.
America's interests are global, but its focus is regional, and existing alliances and past coalitions reflect that focus. Alliance participants establish formal, standard agreements for broad and past coalition objectives. Alliance nations strive to field compatible military systems, structure common procedures, and develop contingency plans to meet potential threats. As forces of these nations plan and train together, they develop mutual trust and respect. Present alliances and agreements include the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); the American, British, Canadian, and Australian (ABCA) Armies Standardization Program; defense and cooperation treaties with Korea and Japan; and the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.
Figure I-1. Coalition Building
While alliances form the basis for responding to a variety of regional threats, new coalitions, such as Operation Desert Shield in August 1990, emerge to meet future national strategic requirements. Coalitions, which are created for limited purposes and for a limited length of time, do not afford military planners the same political resolve and commonality of aim as alliances. Thus, planners must closely study the political goals of each participant as a precursor to detailed planning. Political considerations weigh more heavily with coalitions than with alliance operations.
Multinational military operations are not new. Most major military operations in the twentieth century have been both joint and multinational: World War I, the Allied Intervention in Russia, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, and various UN-sponsored operations. Since human nature has not changed, regional conflicts over territory, religion, politics, and economics, such as those that prompted previous military operations, will continue to be widespread. The precise role of land forces in these operations will vary according to each political and military situation. US Army participation is likely for three reasons: only land forces can hold terrain and control populations, Army structure contains unique capabilities other services do not have, and soldiers on the ground are a clear demonstration of political resolve.
The United States' strategic principal of collective security caused the United States to join several alliances and form coalitions. This requires the Army to conduct multinational military operations with forces from other nations. These operations will generally include a variety of governmental and nongovernmental agencies, other services, and international agencies. The other reason the United States conducts such operations is that rarely can one nation go it alone. Participating national contingents, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private voluntary organizations (PVOs) bring certain unique core competencies. This blending of capabilities and political legitimacy makes certain operations possible that the US could not or would not conduct unilaterally.
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