UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Appendix C

Enduring Realities and Rapid Dominance

by General Fred Franks


Rapid Dominance, as we see it, is a markedly different concept for the use of force to gain national security ob jectives. At its core, Rapid Dominance blends unique capabilities of land, sea, air, space, and special operating forces. It is important to note the vital role of jointness in using forces from all elements and resisting the lure of gimmicks and cost-free options that may appear within the reach of high technology but are not.

Examining current joint force capabilities reveals some enduring truths that should be used to evaluate future concepts. Joint force commanders today benefit from the wide array of capabilities available to the joint warfighting team. The ability to combine and use forces from all dimensions in a variety of powerful combinations to fit mission circumstances presents a versatility of capabilities that makes defense by adversaries difficult. Balance and versatility are key. Balance in capabilities and the inherent versatility to combine them in unpredictable, yet highly effective ways has served U.S. national security interests well since the end of the Cold War. One has only to look at the variety of methods employed in Panama (1989), Desert Storm (1991), Somalia (1992), Rwanda (1993), Haiti (1994), and Bosnia (1995) in both war and operations other than war. Joint force commanders employed, and in some cases invented, new combinations of balanced capabilities and were willing to go beyond the confines of service doctrines to fit mission circumstances. For example, a U.S. Army brigade of the 10th Mountain Division with helicopters replaced much of the carrier air wing and flew off the carrier Eisenhower during the Haiti operation. This force packaging capability is an advantage unique to the U.S.

As we look beyond the present to future and bolder defense concepts such as Rapid Dominance, the key will be to maintain that balance in land, sea, air, space, and special operating forces combinations available to the joint force commander. U.S. military forces are now multidimensional in capabilities, able to use force in ways unpredictable to an adversary. U.S. forces also have enormous versatility, able to be used in war and what have become termed operations other than war. Balance permits that.

Moreover, joint force commanders, recognizing this capability, have found ways to introduce land forces even more rapidly given today's methods. Recently, a brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division rapidly deployed by air from Ft. Hood, Texas, to Kuwait and was able to fall in on equipment forward positioned and be available for combat soon after arrival. A recent article in Navy Times pointed out, "In fact, as each wave of soldiers arrived in Kuwait, they were heading north -- combat ready -- within six hours." This was a dramatic example of the rapid ability to combine land forces with air and sea forces using both distant forces with those already in the theater. That combination in that set of strategic circumstances provided a rapid deterrent in an area of vital national security interests to the U.S.

Another enduring truth is the need for staying power and ensuring that capacity is perceived by a potential adversary. Staying power means the ability to press the initial advantage gained until the strategic objective is achieved. On-the-ground presence, in addition to forces in theater, as demonstrated in Kuwait in 1993 and again in 1996, provided commitment and staying power to convince Iraq that it would be disastrous to consider any form of military action. The inherent staying power of land forces, wherever future tactical concepts may lead, makes them a powerful contributing partner in our Rapid Dominance concept.

Finally, there is the issue of physical control. Control combines with staying power to defeat the enemy's will. One of the many lessons of Desert Storm is that it was not until after land forces attacked Iraq and Kuwait that Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait. Despite the awesome shock and destructive effects of attacks f rom the air and sea, it was only after coalition ground attacks to extend control to both Kuwait and southeastern Iraq by defeat and destruction of defending Iraqi forces that strategic objectives were secured. Control on land was extended past the cease fire until such time in April as the UN passed a permanent cease fire and sanctions resolution. Land forces remaining in southeastern Iraq provided the staying power and control.

The size, shape, and composition of forces that will fight in all elements will assuredly change in the future. Early work done in advanced warfighting experiments out of TRADOC's Battle Labs beginning in 1992 and growing into the current Force XXI and other promising capabilities as well as by the USMC at MCCDC at Quantico are the precursors of how change may be discovered and implemented. The challenge is to ensure that all components of our fighting power are properly balanced and combined into the most effective and lethal mixes of land, sea, air, space, and special operating forces. This is the heart of the Rapid Dominance force of the future.

Extension of real and perceived control over the will and ability of any adversary to oppose or threaten us will insure and guarantee success of initial operations, thereby maximizing Shock and Awe. Indeed, getting forces on land rapidly and operationally will be a major factor in achieving the enduring effects of Shock and Awe. Certainly, as forces on land evolve and change, they must meet the requirements of rapidity and sustainment and are vital components of any mix of forces that seek by Shock and Awe to stun and then rapidly dominate an adversary to achieve U.S. national security objectives.

We strongly feel that we as a nation cannot stand still in exploring defense alternatives. We must seize this time to be bold in our thinking. More thought and hypotheses with operational methods that break through or expand current service doctrines are needed from a joint perspective even as services look to the future from their own service perspective. Then there must be rigorous experiments using both high fidelity simulations and actual joint field trials to determine the worth of these hypotheses to blend the wide array of technology available to the total joint force and according to bold new concepts. The results will determine the worth of Rapid Dominance concepts by judging whether they will permit even more balanced, versatile, and lethal combinations to fit known and anticipated future strategic circumstances.

Biographies of the Study Group Members

Table of Contents


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list