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Strategic, Policy, and Operational Application

In assessing the future utility and applicability of Rapid Dominance, it is crucial to consider the political context in which force is likely to be employed. As we enter the next century, the probability is low that an overriding, massive, direct threat posed by a peer-competitor to the U.S. will emerge in the near term. Without compelling reasons, public tolerance toward American sacrifice abroad will remain low and may even decrease. This reluctance on the part of Americans to tolerate pain is directly correlated to perceptions of threat to U.S. interests. Without a clear and present danger, the definition of national interest may remain narrow.

Americans have always appreciated rapid and decisive military solutions. But, many challenges or crises in the future are likely to be marginal to U.S. interests and therefore may not be resolvable before American political staying power is exhausted. In this period, political micro-management and fine tuning are likely to be even more prevalent as administrations respond to public sentiments for minimizing casualties and, without a threat or compelling reason, U.S. involvement.

Future actions and measures may likely reflect "politically correct" alternatives. In 1991, the Gulf War came close to presenting the nearly optimal situation for prosecution to a decisive and irreversible conclusion. Such a course, however, was not politically feasible because it would have shattered the allied coalition while exceeding the authority of the UN mandate. Military operations that impact across a whole population or cause "innocent civilians" to suffer (e.g., some economic sanctions, collateral damage from raids) also are likely to be only politically acceptable in aggravated situations. For example, if economic sanctions cause malnutrition or other health problems or collateral damage from bombing or shelling impacts hospitals, schools, orphanages, or refugee camps, the policy may be the ultimate victim.

The U.S. military is more likely to find itself in a supporting foreign policy role with discrete missions that are only one facet of a larger political context. This context is almost certainly going to expand into militarily grey areas of OOTW, including those impinging on law enforcement and ensuring political stability. Forces may be called upon to deal with or control situations on the margin rather than to achieve total submission or defeat of an opponent. The prevailing political preference is likely to continue to be to try to bound these complex challenges through fine tuning, artificial constructs, and discretely limited tasks, often performed in the midst of internal conflict. Economic sanctions (e.g., Serbia, Iraq), "no fly" zones (e.g., Southern and Northern Iraq and Bosnia), "safe havens" (e.g., Bosnia), humanitarian relief delivered by "all means necessary" (e.g., Somalia, Bosnia), and embassy protection and evacuation (e.g., Liberia in 1991 and again in 1996) are the kinds of OOTW tasks more likely to be assigned by policy makers. Such tasks tend to be inconclusive and of long duration. They also increase vulnerability to terrorist attack such as the bombing of the Kolbah Barracks in Riyadh in June 1996.

Americans prefer not to intervene, especially when the direct threat to the U.S. is ambiguous, tenuous, or difficult to define. Therefore, when intervention is necessary there is likely to be both a political and practical imperative to have allied or international involvement or at least the political cover of the UN, NATO, or appropriate NGOs.

As more states (and sub-national groups) acquire nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities and longer range delivery means, the ability for rogues to inflict pain will increase as will the ability to ratchet up the political risks. WMD can easily complicate our ability to influence positive and constructive behavior of possessors. Because of the threat of retaliation, WMD capabilities may become politically acceptable targets provided collateral damage to civilians is minimized. Preemption may become a more realistic option along the lines of Israel's strikes against Syria's nuclear reactors in 1982. It is, however, a responsible state's worst nightmare to have successfully struck a chemical, biological, or nuclear production facility with precision only to learn the next day that hundreds of civilians have been killed due to the inadvertent release of chemical, biological, or nuclear materials.

There must also be an appropriate political context that justifies the use of preemptive force, as opposed to less destructive or non-lethal types of sanctions (e.g., responses to terrorism in the case of Libya, invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, exports of WMD to a threatening country such as Iran, the North Korean threat to South Korea and Japan).

The U.S. will, nevertheless, need to maintain the capability to deter and defeat both strategic and other direct threats to its vital interests, preferably on a decisive basis. In an unsettled, less structured, and volatile world, the ability to use force with precision, effectiveness, impunity, and, when needed, rapidity, will still be a powerful influence on cooperation, stability, and, where relevant, submission.

Imposing Rapid Dominance on a nation, group, or situation, if achievable, will be a highly desirable and relevant asset in this turbulent period. Bosnia offers an example. At the outset of the breakup of Yugoslavia, if we had had this type of capability, without potentially high costs, to counter effectively the widely predicted invasion of Bosnia, the U.S. strategy for dealing with that tangled and messy situation might have been much different. Thousands of lives might have been spared. In other grey or marginal situations Rapid Dominance could make the difference between a politically acceptable response or inadequate action with consequences similar to what happened in Bosnia.

In considering how Rapid Dominance might apply and might be used, it is first important to know what it is that we want to achieve with military force. We need to consider whether the application of force will allow us to influence and control an adversary's will or merely exacerbate a bad situation. Therefore, it is essential to know what is of value to that adversary. An objective, realistic, and in-depth situational grasp will be essential to such an understanding. For example, disarming or destroying may produce unintended consequences. For a conventional foe that values its military and depends on technology, Rapid Dominance should be particularly effective and persuasive. In the case of less developed nations, however, the opportunity for exercising influence in this way and against military formations may be considerably less and must be carefully assessed.

As noted, in cases of marginal direct threats to U.S. security, the cost in casualties needs to be low. To be effective, we must take away an opponent's ability to make it cost us in terms of casualty levels we consider intolerable. In applying Rapid Dominance we also must be defending something which is of value to us. The lower the value in terms of our national interests, the lower the price we are likely to be willing to pay.

In MRC situations, we need to have the capability to defeat, destroy, or incapacitate an opponent. On the other hand, in OOTW, other non-military factors are likely to be involved and goals made more limited. For example, it may be necessary to intimidate or capture the leadership in order to restore order or reverse an action, or it may simply be necessary to anticipate, prevent, and counter opposition to conduct of a more limited mission (e.g., feeding the starving or protecting innocent people from genocide).

In U.S. planning for OOTW, it is a virtual given that risk will be minimized and there will be a discrete and proportional use of force with minimal collateral damage. This means that there must be a belief that a mission can be accomplished and is worth the resources necessary to do so. Before initiating action in these often confusing situations, objectives must be clearly established and, once engaged, there should be a willingness to persevere through the inevitable rough patches.

Whether in an MRC or in OOTW, we first will need to know what we want to achieve with Rapid Dominance. This is a task for political leadership which is informed with military advice concerning what is feasible, what is not, and what is uncertain. The extent of the mission must be clearly defined. Is it to defeat an enemy so it will no longer pose a threat? Do we only need to stop an adversary from carrying out a particular act? Must we control a situation entirely or only sufficiently to be able to carry out a specific mission? Can we really affect the adversary's will?

Recent events give us examples of outcomes likely to be relevant in the future. MRCs call for the full spectrum of outcomes—from reversing military action (e.g., the invasion of Kuwait); to establishing a government more acceptable to the U.S. and the world, probably using military coercion (Haiti, Panama); to eliminating a threat to the U.S. or its allies. We may want to persuade an adversary to cease an aggression or act of interference or otherwise change behavior we cannot accept or tolerate. Political expectations in MRCs are for the effective use of force and for rapid success or at least steady progress. Casualties should be moderate or at least acceptable, with the threshold of American pain dependent on the directness of the threat to U.S. interests and with the degree of compellance appropriate to the political rationale.

OOTW present a different set of challenges. These challenges are likely to require discrete dominance of specific circumstances rather than total dominance. The general tasks may include a wide variety of requirements. For example, it may be necessary to try to prevent or stop genocide (e.g., Rwanda) and ethnic cleansing (e.g., Bosnia). The task may be to cooperate with a humanitarian relief effort (e.g., prevention of starvation in Somalia or Bosnia). The goal of employing force may be free and fair elections (e.g., Cambodia, Bosnia). The requirement could be to destroy a limited objective (e.g., an above-ground or underground chemical weapons plant or documented nuclear weapons facilities developed by hostile or unfriendly states).

Other tasks could simply be to preserve international rights (e.g., protecting the neutral shipping of the western oil flow in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war). A more testing challenge might be to accomplish a limited political goal (e.g., gesture to deal with Israeli incursion in Lebanon in 1982). We undoubtedly will face the future requirement to reverse a potential threat to Americans or to a region of importance with a limited military action (e.g., in Grenada in 1983 or the Mayaguez rescue in Cambodia in 1975). Discrete moves to bolster preventive diplomacy and/or overt measures to demonstrate preparedness to assist (e.g., forces sent to Sudan to support Chad under threat of invasion from Libya and recent Navy operations in the Taiwan Strait) will still be relevant.

Countering terrorism also will be part of a continuing agenda (hostage rescue—e.g., Iran, Lebanon; hijacking—e.g., Achille Lauro; deterrent to further moves—e.g., the Higgins operation, Libyan raids, missile attack on Iraq after the threat to former President Bush). We may also need to interdict weapons, terrorists, or other discrete cargoes moving between nations (e.g., North Korean missile shipments to Iran, Iranian and Libyan arms exchanges).

Economic sanctions are likely to continue to be a preferable political alternative or a necessary political prelude to an offensive military step (e.g., implemented as the first step in actions to counter Libyan-sponsored terrorism; tried first as an alternative to war with Iraq; used ineffectively against the Serbs to try to convince them not to continue to support Bosnian Serb aggression; and tried with Haiti as an unsuccessful alternative to occupation). Our past experience has been that we seldom have had decisive or immediate results from these economic measures, sanctions, and embargoes. Considerable time is required to have impact and we have not been particularly efficient in controlling the leakage and spillover in these situations. Sanctions almost always require full international cooperation which cannot be assumed or guaranteed. In Bosnia, of course, some portions of the arms embargo were deliberately allowed to be permeable and the U.S. turned a blind eye to Iran's support of the Bosnians.

Past experience also has taught us some relevant lessons about the potential of Shock and Awe. Improvements in the capabilities enhancing these outcomes could make a decisive difference in dealing with future challenges. History also cautions us as well that there will be restraints in employing Rapid Dominance and that there are fundamental differences in MRC and OOTW applications.

Shock and Awe, when properly applied, have been very effective in the past. They will be effective in the future, even when applied in limited ways that do not reflect the more encompassing impact envisioned by Rapid Dominance. There are many examples of how a very limited application of force made a significant difference through the mechanisms of Shock and Awe. Experiences, including successes and failures, illustrate some of the potential of Rapid Dominance if implemented effectively.

The Vietnam War provides certain lessons. When B-52 strikes, which made the ground rumble, were added to the equation during the Christmas 1972 bombing of Hanoi, dragging negotiations with the North Vietnamese on a peace agreement moved swiftly to an acceptable conclusion. Daily reports following the controversial B-52 "carpet" bombing raids in Cambodia talked of North Vietnamese/Vietcong soldiers wandering around in a daze due to shock and concussion. Both B-52s and naval gunfire, especially from 16 inch guns of a battleship, had a similar impact on invading North Vietnamese troop concentrations. The mining of Haiphong Harbor, although initiated late in the war, was equally effective in immediately stopping shipping in and out of North Vietnam.

When President Nixon wanted to deal with the perplexing problems of our POWs and failing domestic morale, as well as take away substantial political leverage from the North Vietnamese, he directed the raid to rescue prisoners jailed just outside Hanoi. The raid itself was well executed. American forces reached and searched the prison and returned safely. But no Americans were freed because a last minute transfer of the POWs from the prison had not been detected. If there had been prisoners still there to be rescued, the operation would have been a highly dramatic and influential event. The point is that accurate and timely intelligence remains crucial.

There seems to be little doubt that the combined F-111 and naval air strike against Libya in 1986 in response to the discotheque terrorist attack in Germany gave Gadhafi pause. The perception that he personally might be targeted appeared to get Gadhafi's attention.

When our troops were having difficulty dislodging Grenadian soldiers from their main fortress, Marine tanks were sailed around the island to confront them. At the sight of tank guns, the seemingly stubborn occupants surrendered almost immediately without a fight.

The cease fire in the bloody Iran-Iraq war was quick to follow after the commencement of daily Iraqi long-range rocket bombardments of Tehran that amounted to a reign of terror. Given that both sides were exhausted at that point, a show of force could have been convincing. Strong U.S. action in response to Iran's mining of neutral waters may also have had a sobering effect on the mullahs. Not only were Iran's vulnerable oil-producing platforms in the Gulf boarded and destroyed with impunity by the U.S., but Iranian naval forces that had come out to challenge the U.S. Navy were destroyed. Iraq's reign of terror, and the strong American message to Iran, possibly helped end the war.

In our troublesome stay in Somalia, AC-130 gunships earned immediate respect from potential troublemakers with their ability to see wide areas night or day, remain on station for hours as night patrols, and strike with precision and relative impunity. The methodical drone of AC-130s circling in the air was enough to restore some order, although a few civilians found the noise unsettling. In another situation, the aftermath of systematic UN efforts to destroy faction leader Mohamed Aideed's illegal arms facilities generated an unexpected reaction from other warlords, including those colluding with him, which was to volunteer to hand over their own weapons storage areas. For a fleeting moment, Shock and Awe created an important opportunity.

During the many vagaries of the Bosnia tragedy, it would appear that when NATO accurately delivered potent doses of air power, rather than occasional pin pricks, the Serbs seemed finally to understand that an appearance of cooperation rather than defiance was in their interest. This NATO message in the form of air power, of course, was strengthened by the effectiveness of the accompanying Croatian/Muslim counter-offensive and the fatigue of Bosnian Serb fighters. Sustaining the shock effect with forces on the ground was a necessary combination to gain the staying power effect to change the will of the Serbs. It was not accomplished by air alone. Timing remains important.

Past failures also offer examples of how Rapid Dominance might have made a difference in reacting to those difficult situations. Rapid Dominance might have provided a better response to those setbacks or might have offered a more effective alternative that would have avoided the vulnerabilities in those situations in the first place (e.g., Bay of Pigs, Iran embassy rescue in 1980, Lebanon Marine barracks bombing in 1983, response to the Pueblo seizure by North Korea in 1968, and the reaction to the downed helicopters during the Ranger raid in Somalia).

We should also learn from other states who have demonstrated effective application of the characteristics of Rapid Dominance. Israel's rout of Syria's air force and missile defenses in Lebanon's Baaka Valley shows how dramatic success can have political spillover. On the other hand, Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor produced the reverse effects of Shock and Awe and had the unintended consequence of galvanizing the U.S. into action.

Even without a Rapid Dominance capability or when facing a more technologically dependent opponent, it is clear from these examples and many others in recent U.S. experiences that certain improvements in capabilities would provide us with greater flexibility in the future. This is especially true in OOTW situations, which require a multiplicity of effective instruments at our disposal. It is also true that certain operations such as peacekeeping tend to be manpower intensive.

If we are to stay ahead of an adversary and deny things of value to that adversary, dynamic, accurate, and integrated intelligence is essential. Intelligence needs to move to levels unprecedented in scope, timeliness, accuracy, and availability in real time. The Gulf War, despite its success, showed classic limitations in intelligence. Even though we had nearly every intelligence asset designed to deal with the USSR available for use, we were unable to detect the full extent of Iraq's WMD capability; unable to find mobile missile launchers even with a major expenditure of on-scene assets; in some cases, we could only "see" kilometers in front of our advancing forces; and we mistakenly attacked targets we thought were legitimate but had civilians inside. In some instances, only reliable human intelligence may provide the necessary information (for example, in order to understand what is happening in deep underground facilities).

Another important capability we should try to achieve in the future is the ability to intimidate, capture, convince, or significantly influence the perceptions and understanding of individual troublemakers. This need has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years (e.g., Gadhafi in Libya, Aideed in Somalia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Noreiga in Panama). Such a perception is particularly relevant when the problem appears not to be caused by a unified population but by the ambitions of individual leaders who have intimidated or killed off any likely internal opposition. Such a capability requires effective real-time intelligence and a variety of methods for accomplishing the task (from exceptionally precise weapons to effective "snatch" operations).

In a world in which non-lethal sanctions are a political imperative, we will continue to need the ability to shut down all commerce into and out of any country from shipping, air, rail, and roads. We ought to be able to do this in a much more thorough, decisive, and shocking way than we have in the past. The ability to apply pressure or cause acquiescence employing non-lethal means also will be important in some circumstances. Weapons that shock and awe, stun and paralyze, but do not kill in significant numbers may be the only ones that are politically acceptable in the future. This also means that crowd control with minimum violence may be needed. In certain circumstances, the costs of having to resort to lethal force may be too politically expensive in terms of local support as well as support in the U.S. and internationally.

As is already well recognized, we need to be able to shut down key electronic communications to, from, and within a country (or within a specific sub-group or faction). We also need the ability to control radio and television within a country. It is important, however, in all cases, to be able to deny an adversary's ability to communicate and to have our own means of reaching the population with appropriate messages.

In addition to being able to eliminate military capabilities selectively, including weapons systems, overt and covert stockpiles, fuel, WMD, and related logistics, we will need to have the capability selectively to incapacitate, neutralize, or destroy other things considered of great value to opponents. Increased targeting precision will compound effectiveness as well as help to avoid the political pitfalls of using force such as the inevitable, unintended collateral damage that has been the pattern of the past.

More surgical and carefully crafted applications of force, however, will only partially reduce the restraints and limits on utilizing Rapid Dominance in MRCs and OOTW. There are substantial differences in the political constraints likely to be imposed in dealing with MRCs and with OOTW. For example, there is much greater latitude to use dominant force and Shock and Awe in MRCs than in OOTW.

In MRC situations, we are often likely to face conventional powers which are well organized, well equipped, and broadly dependent on technology. Although more powerful, these developed states are also likely to be especially vulnerable to a technologically sophisticated approach such as Rapid Dominance as long as we maintain this military edge and the ability to neutralize their military systems. Even in the most compelling circumstance where a Rapid Dominance force is used, however, support from other nations will be politically desirable.

In most circumstances there will be limits to the targets of value to an adversary which can be destroyed as well as to the numbers and types of weapons that can be employed. For example, the political circumstances in which nuclear weapons could be employed are quite limited. In both MRCs and OOTW, certain actions are politically as well as morally unacceptable except in extreme cases. Such restrictions are likely to apply to targets affecting control of access to food, water, and clean air, and to destruction of religious and cultural centers, even if there is low collateral damage.

In OOTW situations, we are much more vulnerable to criticism of using excessive force, especially if there is civilian or collateral damage. The concept of proportionality is likely to remain an operative principle in U.S. policy and may be taken to extremes, especially if the marginal nature of a situation leads to a marginal and ineffective response. Some people, both military and civilian, even argue that superior technology should not be employed in such situations and that an adversary should be fought on his own terms. While such arguments should be rejected, they nonetheless sometimes have a political influence that must be considered. We should always use technology to minimize our casualties, give us every advantage, reduce collateral damage, and make us look more formidable. At the same time, there needs to be sufficient provocation to warrant destruction or denial. Our actions must always be consistent with our own system of values.

The "rapid" component of Rapid Dominance is one of the most appealing aspects of the concept, both politically and militarily. The ability to take action that is timely and decisive multiplies substantially the chances of ultimate success. Action needs to be taken precisely when it will have greatest impact. Often initial public outrage and political support for action in response to a provocation subsides if a prolonged buildup is necessary in order to prepare to take action.

The ability to react faster than an adversary, to assimilate information and act on it effectively, is also an important advantage. In a NATO region-wide dynamic computer war game a few years ago, it was clear that the simulated enemy was advancing faster than the defensive chain of command could make counter moves. The tradition of sending decisions up the line was simply too slow to cope with the dynamic challenge posed by the adversary. Commanders on scene lacked the authority to respond and adjust to rapidly changing situations. The exercise graphically demonstrated to the country involved the need to institute fundamental command and control streamlining. It also demonstrated the advantages of being able to make local decisions in real time while still effectively coordinating and optimizing the overall effort.

The Navy's "command by negation" concept evolved in the 1980s in order to deal with the rapidity of the air/missile threat and the need to integrate dynamically the offensive and defensive missile, air, sea, and undersea capabilities of a battle group and its joint components (e.g., AWACs). This concept was one way of solving the time problem while keeping the overall commander in the picture. The commander could then intervene and modify actions as necessary to conform to the broader strategy. This type of control was helped by the evolution of electronic links and secure communications and the availability of satellites.

Commanders employing Rapid Dominance will need to orchestrate it using similar principles, while applying greater selective ability to turn on and off a variety of systems, sensors, and devices influencing the whole operational picture. Technology should also give commanders a much better grasp of what is evolving during a battle. Just as the American military of today has made "owning the night" part of its tactical advantage, "owning" the dimension of time will be critical to the success of Rapid Dominance.

In conceptual terms, the following is suggestive of a future force configuration and the design of a mission capability package (MCP) based on Rapid Dominance.

Operational Construct

Rapid Dominance is based on affecting the adversary's will, perception, and knowledge through imposing sufficient Shock and Awe to overcome resistance, allowing us to achieve our aims. Four characteristics are vital: knowledge, rapidity, brilliance, and control of the environment.

Application of all or of selective capabilities within the Rapid Dominance systems of systems will then decisively direct the application of military/defense resources and produce the requisite outcome. Rapid Dominance envisages the execution of specific actions in real or near real time to counter actions or intentions deemed detrimental to U.S. interests. On the high end of conflict, Rapid Dominance would introduce a reaction of Shock and Awe in areas of highest value to the threatening individual, group, or state. In many cases, prior understanding of the power of Rapid Dominance would act as a deterrent to the objectionable action. When used, Rapid Dominance would ensure favorable early resolution of issues with minimal loss of lives and collateral damage. The concept theoretically should be able to impact adversarial situations that apply across the board to high, mid, low, no, or minimal technology threats.

Rapid Dominance expands the art of joint combined arms war fighting capabilities to a new level. Rapid Dominance requires a sophisticated, interconnected, and interoperable grid of netted intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, communications systems, data analysis, and real-time deliverable actionable information to the shooter. This network must provide total situational awareness and supporting nodal analysis that enables U.S. forces to act inside the adversary's decision loop in a manner that on the high end produces Shock and Awe among the threat parties. Properly detailed nodal analysis of this knowledge grid will enable the shutting down of specific functions or all essential functions near simultaneously. This will often times be netted pieces of data where the sum of the parts gives the answer and the battlefield advantage to the force possessing this rapidly netted information.

The "rapid" part of the equation becomes the ability to get real-time actionable targeting information to the appropriate shooter, whether the shooter is a tank division, an individual tank, an artillery battery, an individual rifle man, a naval battle group, an individual ship, an air wing/squadron, or an aircraft in flight. This means the need to have the right shooter in the right place; locating and identifying the target correctly and quickly; allocating and assigning targets rapidly; getting the "shoot" order or general authority to the shooter; and then assessing the battle damage accurately.

At whatever the unit level, Shock and Awe are provided by the speed and effectiveness of this cycle. Then, the ability to do this simultaneously throughout the battlefield creates a strategic Shock and Awe on the opposing forces, their leadership, and populous. This simultaneity and concurrency are central tenets of imposing Shock and Awe. When the video results of these attacks are broadcast in real time worldwide on CNN, the positive impact on coalition support and negative impact on potential threat support can be decisive.

The first priority of a doctrine of Rapid Dominance should be to deter, alter, or affect the will and therefore those actions that are either unacceptable to U.S. national security interests or endanger the democratic community of states and access to free markets. These political objectives are generally those envisioned in the major and lower regional conflict scenarios (MRC & LRC). Should deterrence fail, the application of Rapid Dominance in these circumstances should create sufficient Shock and Awe to the immediate threat forces and leadership as well as provide a clear message for other potential threat partners. The doctrine of Rapid Dominance would not be limited to MRC and LRC scenarios. It has applications in a variety of areas such as countering WMD, terrorism, and perhaps other tasks. The challenge is that should deterrence fail, the execution of a response based on Rapid Dominance must be proportional to the threat, yet decisive enough to convey the right degree of Shock and Awe. Rapid Dominance cannot solve all or even most of the world's problems. We repeat our disclaimer that this is not a silver bullet. However, Rapid Dominance and its capacity for achieving Shock and Awe could be applied for egregious threats or violations of international law, such as:

  • Direct military threats to the territory of the U.S., its friends, and allies;
  • Blatant aggression involving a large state crushing a small state;
  • Rogue leader/state sponsored terrorism/use of WMD;
  • Egregious violations of human rights on a large scale; and
  • Threat to essential world markets.

Clearly, the Information Highway is crossing all sovereign borders and penetrating even the most closed societies. The inequities and benefits in all societies are becoming known to the masses as well as the power brokers. The requirement for Rapid Dominance to develop sophisticated capabilities to penetrate the Information Highway and create road blocks as well as control inputs/outputs to the highway both overtly and covertly is fundamental to the concept.

These same techniques also apply to law enforcement agencies targeting international crime and drug cartels using the highway. Closer interagency cooperations and coordination between military and law enforcement activities and capabilities must be established. Experience with the military involvement in the drug war revealed considerable cultural differences between these organizations. Overcoming these cultural differences among organizations is not easy. The required trust and confidence for sharing sensitive information and support between these agencies and the military needs to be developed further. Interagency coordination and cooperation must be raised to a new level of sophistication. Some laws may need to be changed. War in Cyberspace does not recognize domestic or foreign boundaries. In this environment the subjects of Information Warfare and Information In Warfare take on new meaning and require focused development. We must become proficient within this environment.

Operational Assumptions

  • The enemy picks the time and place to initiate the conflict (i.e., we are surprised).
  • We then attain control of the initiative through superior speed, knowledge, and capacity to act and react.
  • Our forces are perceived to be invincible; engagements must convince the enemy there is no hope.
  • Combat must be unrelenting and omnipresent at times, places, and tempo of choosing.
  • Allied operations must be thoroughly integrated, from political objectives through combat to include psychological warfare.
  • The enemy must be hit in those areas of greatest importance to him and devastated by the ferocity and swiftness of our attack.

From these assumptions, certain operational criteria follow that help to define a Rapid Dominance Force with more specificity in improving:

  • Intelligence, indications, and warning on an aggressor's actions
  • The length of time required for a decision to react
  • Decisive responses at various levels and times after the crises or conflict begins to develop:

    Respond in 1 to 3 days with air and missile strikes and special forces

    Respond in 5 to 10 days with more massive power up to and including a joint task force of corps size

    Respond in 10 to 30 days with a second corps

The Rapid Dominance MCP

As a next step, we need to sketch out what a Rapid Dominance Force might look like for a corps-sized air, ground, sea, and space joint task force supported by necessary intelligence assets that can impose sufficient Shock and Awe to break the will of the adversary. First, this force will emphasize capabilities to maximize the core characteristics of knowledge of self, adversary, and environment; rapidity; brilliance in execution; and control of the environment.

Knowledge means more than dominant battlefield awareness. It means understanding the adversary's mind and anticipating his reactions. It means targeting those things that will produce the intended Shock and Awe. And, it means having feedback and good, timely battle assessment to enable knowledge to be used dynamically as well as to know how our forces will react.

Rapidity means moving and acting as quickly as necessary and always on a timely basis. Rapidity can be instant or as required.

Brilliance in operations means achieving the highest standards of operational competence and, through a superiority of knowledge, maintaining the ability to impose Shock and Awe through continuously surprising and psychologically and physically breaking the adversary's will to resist. This will require training and exercising of joint land, sea, air, space, and special forces to new standards of excellence and competence. It is mainly in training where the difference lies in achieving operational brilliance. This desired standard of performance can be achieved by making innovations to permit new levels of battlefield fidelity for training units and developing leaders.

Control of the environment would include complete signature control on the entire battle area out to hundreds of miles. We would control our signatures as well as what we wanted the adversary to see or hear and what we do not want the enemy to know. Destruction of the adversary's systems would begin with long-range stealthy, or "stand-off" Zero CEP weapons, extend to FOG-M type battlefield weapons to close-in systems. Small units would be able to call in "fires" for 360 degrees on a nearly instant basis.

Attacks from all aspects would be complemented by deception, disinformation, surveillance, targeting, and killing. "Pulse" weapons would be used to disarm and actively deceive the enemy through disrupting and attacking all aspects of the adversary's electronics, information, and C4I infrastructure. It is this "lay down" of total power across all areas in rapid and simultaneous actions that would impose the Shock and Awe.

The remainder, roughly a third of this Joint Task Force, would consist of traditional platforms including conventional ground, air, and amphibious forces, naval battle group forces, and the necessary supporting logistical, C4I, medical and other capabilities and ground forces to conduct and sustain conventional or traditional operations if needed and to support or defend traditionally vulnerable targets such as ports, roads, and other infrastructure.

Tactical employment is, of course, dependent on the conditions of the MRC. In general, the most rapidly deployable units of this corps, the future equivalent of the Eighteenth Airborne Corps, would be sent to secure or reinforce a limited area into which the remainder of the force would flow. This AOR would be self-protected. Our goal is that perhaps a Rapid Dominance force of as few as 2,000 troops could successfully defend against an enemy of 10-20,000 in an MRC and that a full corps can be deployed within 5 to 10 days.

These units would arrive quickly and, as directed, begin disarming, destroying, and disabling the enemy's military wherewithal using "stand-off" capabilities. Forward-based or long-range reconnaissance units could be employed/supported by UAVs and overhead surveillance.

Units would be forward deployed in accordance with their time phased plan. These units would be used either to complete the attack or to carry it to the adversary, occupy selective territory physically, or carry out the requirements of the post-war occupation campaign. Should traditional forces be needed, they would of course be available.

Protection and self-defense would partly be provided by controlling the environment. In effect, we would cast a cloak around the adversary and permit the adversary to see and know what we alone provided. This would leave an adversary blind, deaf, and dumb. With superior and rapid firepower, the blinded, deafened enemy would be destroyed and defeated as we saw fit. This would maximize Shock and Awe and help break the adversary's will.

In OOTW, the Rapid Dominance JTF might function as follows. First, the ability to deploy dominant force rapidly to attack or threaten to attack appropriate targets could be brought to bear without involving manpower-intense or manned sensors and weapons. Second, once deployed, since self-defense is likely to be required against small arms, mines, and shoulder carried or mortar weapons, certainly some form of "armor" or protective vehicles and shelters would be necessary. However, through the UAVs, C4I, and virtual reality systems, as well as through signature management and other Shock and Awe weapons including High Powered Microwave (HPM) and "stun-like" systems, this force would have more than dominant battlefield awareness.

There are, of course, caveats. Unless strategic or policy objectives are in line with operational capabilities, military force is unlikely to be a useful instrument. It is also unlikely that any operational construct, no matter how brilliantly conceived, could overcome such a disconnect. Vietnam and Somalia remind us of these limitations.

The assimilation of intelligence—strategically, culturally, and operationally—is a central thrust and component of the knowledge aspect of Rapid Dominance. Our forces must not only fight smarter; these forces, at all or most levels, must be educated and trained differently with far more emphasis on intelligence, broadly defined. This knowledge, when applied rapidly under conditions of brilliance and in a controlled environment, is a centerpiece of Rapid Dominance.

There must be full comprehension of the adversary across strategic, political, military, cultural, intellectual, and perceptual lines. This understanding must go beyond how an adversary might use military force. Those crucial values that motivate and underlie a nation or a group must be understood if the appropriate level of Shock and Awe is to be achieved.

There are also obvious questions that must be answered. Does Rapid Dominance apply only or mostly to the high end of the conflict spectrum involving more traditional applications of force to achieve political objectives, as envisioned in the MRC and LRC scenarios? Yet to be explored is the degree to which a concept of Rapid Dominance with Shock and Awe applies to OOTW, countering terrorism against U.S. interests, controlling rogue states/leaders, etc. What are the political and military prerequisites to apply Rapid Dominance? Are they applicable and realistically achievable in the increasingly complex interaction of national non-government organizations (PVOs/NGOs) present worldwide to provide health and humanitarian care to refugees and other disenfranchised people? Would the concept of Rapid Dominance with a degree of Shock and Awe offend and generate counterproductive public relations backlash from those who believe force should only be used as a last resort and then with a measurable degree of proportionality?

At this point, we can only raise questions and expect to have them answered at a later date. This line of questions, concerns, and issues as well as a host of others, needs to be examined up front and answered in the Rapid Dominance concept development process. We must be careful that we do not overvisualize Rapid Dominance versus the reality of credible/affordable capabilities to execute the concept. Rapid Dominance must still confront the fog of war. Decisions will still be made based on judgment and confidence in the intelligence provided, the estimate of threat intentions, knowledge of true center of gravity targets, and confidence in our own force capabilities to inflict Shock and Awe. In fact, the key will be the ability to penetrate this fog with increased clarity and to control events now unmanageable through more rapid gathering, analyzing, and distributing actionable information. Complicating the issue is the fact that the U.S. has not clearly defined its role in the post-Cold War era. As the world's only credible superpower, the U.S. cannot avoid a leadership role but neither can it avoid the focused criticism applied to all leaders. This is the classical "damned if you do and damned if you don't" syndrome.

At this stage, the concept of Rapid Dominance is a work in progress. It needs to be "operationalized." By designing a nominal MCP and fitting with it paper systems and capabilities, we can explore the answers to many of the questions we raised above. Three steps are needed to proceed down the road on the way to a real capability. First, feasibility of the requisite technical capabilities needs to be established. Second, wargaming of the MCP must be done. Third, and perhaps most difficult, deriving the means for implementing the most promising aspects of Rapid Dominance must occur.

Chapter 4. An Outline for System Innovation and Technological Integration

Table of Contents

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