UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Future Directions

At this stage, Rapid Dominance is an intellectual construct based on these key points. First, Rapid Dominance has evolved from the collective professional, policy, and operational experience of the study group covering the last four decades. This experience ran from Vietnam to Desert Storm and from serving with operational units in the field to being part of the decision-making process in the Oval Office in Washington. It also included immersion in technology and systems from thermonuclear weapons to advanced weapons software.

Second, Rapid Dominance seeks to exploit the unique juncture of strategy, technology, and innovation created by the end of the Cold War and to establish an alternative foundation for military doctrine and force structure.

Third, Rapid Dominance draws on the strategic uses of force as envisaged by Sun Tzu and Clausewitz to overpower or affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary for strategic aims and military objectives. But, in Rapid Dominance, the principal mechanism for affecting the adversary's will is through the imposition of a regime of Shock and Awe sufficient to achieve the aims of policy. It is this relationship with and reliance on Shock and Awe that differentiates Rapid Dominance from attrition, maneuver, and other military doctrines including overwhelming force.

Shock and Awe impact on psychological, perceptual, and physical levels. At one level, destroying an adversary's military force leaving the enemy impotent and vulnerable may provide the necessary Shock and Awe. At another level, the certainty of this outcome may cause an adversary to accept our terms well short of conflict. In the great middle ground, the appropriate balance of Shock and Awe must cause the perception and anticipation of certain defeat and the threat and fear of action that may shut down all or part of the adversary's society or render his ability to fight useless short of complete physical destruction.

Finally, in order to impose enough Shock and Awe to affect an adversary's will, four core characteristics of a Rapid Dominance-configured force were defined. First, complete knowledge and understanding of self, of the adversary, and of the environment are essential. This knowledge and understanding exceed the expectations of dominant battlefield awareness and DBA becomes a subset of Rapid Dominance.

Rather like the wise investor and not the speculator who is only familiar with a particular company and not the stock market in general, the Rapid Dominance force must have complete knowledge and understanding of many likely adversaries and regions. This requirement for knowledge and understanding will place a huge, new burden on the military forces and necessitate fundamental changes in policy, organization, training, education, structure, and equipage.

Second is rapidity. Rapidity combines speed, timeliness, and agility and the ability to sustain control after the initial shock. Rapidity enables us to act as quickly as needed and always more quickly than the adversary can react or take counter-actions. Rapidity is also an antidote to surprise. If we cannot anticipate surprise, or are surprised, rapidity provides a correcting capacity to neutralize the effects of that surprise.

Third, and most provocatively, is setting the standard of operations and execution in terms of brilliance. The consequences and implications of setting brilliance as the standard and achieving it are profound. Reconfiguration of command authority and organization possibly to decentrali-zation down to individual troops must follow. Allowing and encouraging an operational doctrine of the "first to respond" will set the tempo provided that effective de-confliction of friendly on friendly engagements has been assured.

This, of course, means that complete revision of doctrine, training, and organization will be required. The matter is not just "fighting smarter." It is learning to fight at even higher standards of skill and competence.

Fourth is control of the environment. Control is defined in the broadest sense: physical control of the land, air, sea, and space and control of the "ether" in which information is passed and received. This requires signature management throughout the full conflict spectrum—deception, disinformation, verification, information control, and target management—all with rapidity in both physical and psychological impact. By depriving an adversary of the physical use of time, space, and the ether, we play on the adversary's will and offer the prospect of certain destruction should resistance follow.

The next step in this process must be specifically defining this Rapid Dominance force in terms of force structure, capabilities, doctrine, organization, and order of battle. We have begun this effort and are focusing on a joint task force sized somewhere between a reinforced division and a full corps (i.e., a strength of 75,000 - 200,000). We also have the aim of being able to deploy this force within 5 to 10 days of the order to move and, of course, will be able to send smaller force packages on a nearly instantaneous basis. We appreciate the mobility and logistical implications of this requirement.

Once we design this "paper" force and equip it with "paper" systems, we must evaluate it against the five basic questions and tests we noted in the Prologue.

The first test of this Rapid Dominance force will be against the MRC. The comparison, in the broadest sense, must be with the programmed force and whatever emerges from the Quadrennial Defense Review of 1997. We will need to examine closely how and where and why Rapid Dominance and Shock and Awe work and where they do not. At the very least, we expect that this will help strengthen the current force and improve current capabilities. Of course, it is our hope that this test will validate Rapid Dominance as a legitimate doctrine.

Second, the Rapid Dominance force must be tested across the entire spectrum of OOTW. These are the most difficult tests because, in some of them, no force may be suitable and no force may work.

Third, the test of determining the political consequences of Rapid Dominance must be conducted. On one hand, if this force capability can be achieved and Shock and Awe administered to affect an adversary's will, can a form of political deterrence be created? In the most approximate sense, and we emphasize approximate, the analogy with nuclear deterrence might be drawn. An adversary may be persuaded or deterred from taking action in the first instance. On the other hand, this capacity may be seen as politically unusable and allies and others within the United States may not be fully trusting of the possessor always to employ this force responsibly.

Fourth is the test of the implications of Rapid Dominance for alliances and for waging coalition warfare. Our allies are already concerned that the United States is leaving them far behind in military technology and capability. If we possess this force and our allies or partners do not, how do we fight together? Our view is that this can be worked out through technology sharing and perhaps new divisions of labor and mission specialization. However, these are important points to be considered.

Finally, what does all this mean for resource investments in defense?

It is also likely that because Rapid Dominance will cause profound consequences, the iron grip of the political bureaucracy will make a fair examination difficult. It is no accident that other attempts at change, especially those that ask for or are tainted with reform, have had a short life span. It is interesting to note in this regard that the President's Commission on Intelligence and its fine report that recommended changes and refinements to the U.S. intelligence community, despite a very positive initial reception, led to only a few meaningful actions.

This discussion leads to two final points. We are all too well aware that any strategy and force structure have vulnerabilities and potential weaknesses. The experiences that this study group collectively had in Vietnam makes this concern very strongly held. We observe that in the private sector, the vulnerability of information systems is real and is being exploited. A former director of the FBI has told us that in New York, for example, the number one recruiting target for organized crime is the teenage computer whiz. We think that this "hacking," writ large in the private sector, must be assumed as part of the defense problem. Hence, sensitivity to vulnerabilities must be even greater, perhaps ironically, than it was during the Cold War, because exploitation can come from many more sources in the future.

Second, wags may criticize Rapid Dominance as attempting to create a "Mission Impossible Force." To be sure, we emphasize and demand brilliance as the operational goal. However, we also know that the military today is seen as a leading example of the best American society has to offer. We wish to build on this reality. We note the experience and the performance, albeit under highly unusual circumstances, of Desert Storm. We see no reason why that level of performance cannot be made a permanent part of the fabric of the American military.

Because we have entered a period of transition in which we enjoy a dominant military position and a greatly reduced window of vulnerability, this is the right time for experimentation and demonstration. Rapid Dominance is still a concept and a work in progress, not a final road map or blueprint. But the concept does warrant, in our view, a commitment to explore and an opportunity that could lead to dramatically better capabilities.

We believe that through Rapid Dominance and the commitment to examine the entire range of defense across all components and aspects, a revolution is possible. If Rapid Dominance can be harnessed in an affordable and efficient way and an operational capability fielded to impose sufficient Shock and Awe to affect an adversary's will, then this will be the real Revolution in Military Affairs. We ask those who are intrigued by this prospect to join us.

Appendix A. Thoughts on Rapid Dominance

Table of Contents

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list