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[casi] War and Aftermath

Frederick W. Kagan is a conservative military historian.



War and Aftermath

By Frederick W. Kagan

The united states has just fought two wars against enemies thought to be
difficult to defeat and has won decisively, rapidly, and with minimal loss
of life. The military performance in both cases was impressive. With
virtually no American troops on the ground in Afghanistan, U.S. forces aided
by local Afghan militias destroyed the Taliban government and shattered the
al Qaeda bases and infrastructure that had been used to plan and prepare the
September 11 attacks. In Iraq one British, one U.S. Marine, and two U.S.
Army divisions, supported by advanced precision-guided munitions, sufficed
to crush both the Iraqi army and Saddam Hussein's regime in a matter of

In both cases, the U.S. has been far less successful in winning the peace
than it was in winning the war. In Iraq, the widespread looting and rioting
that followed the collapse of the Baathist regime and the disorder that
continued for weeks to rage in many parts of the country, including Baghdad,
badly tarnished the image of the American occupying forces. It hindered U.S.
efforts to establish a new, stable Iraqi regime that commands the loyalty of
the Iraqi people.

The situation in Afghanistan was much worse. For more than a year after the
fall of the Taliban government, the new government of Hamid Karzai did not
command the respect of the majority of the Afghan people and could not make
its writ run outside of Kabul. Warlords established themselves in almost all
of the other key cities and regions of the country, the roads became unsafe,
and violence, both directed and random, became the order of the day. It
remains unclear at present whether it will be possible actually to establish
a stable and legitimate government in Kabul - and at what cost.

Why has the United States been so successful in recent wars and encountered
so much difficulty in securing its political aims after the shooting
stopped? The obstacles in the way of establishing stable polities in Kabul
and Baghdad were always considerable. It was never likely that the road to
peace and stability in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan would be short or
smooth. The nature of the American military operations in both countries,
however, multiplied those obstacles instead of reducing them and greatly
increased the chance of failing to achieve the political objectives that
motivated both wars.

The reason for this fact lies partly in the vision of war that President
Bush and his administration brought into office and have implemented in the
past two wars. This vision focuses on destroying the enemy's armed forces
and his ability to command them and control them. It does not focus on the
problem of achieving political objectives. The advocates of a "new American
way of war," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Bush chief among them,
have attempted to simplify war into a targeting drill. They see the enemy as
a target set and believe that when all or most of the targets have been hit,
he will inevitably surrender and American goals will be achieved.

War is not that simple, however. From the standpoint of establishing a good
peace it matters a great deal how, exactly, one defeats the enemy and what
the enemy's country looks like at the moment the bullets stop flying. The
U.S. has developed and implemented a method of warfare that can produce
stunning military victories but does not necessarily accomplish the
political goals for which the war was fought.

If these two wars represented merely isolated cases or aberrations from the
mainstream of military and political developments in the U.S., then the
study of this problem would be of primarily academic interest. That is not
the case. The entire thrust of the current program of military
transformation of the U.S. armed forces, on the contrary, aims at the
implementation and perfection of this sort of target-set mentality. Unless
the direction and nature of military transformation change dramatically, the
American public should expect to see in the future many more wars in which
U.S. armed forces triumph but the American political vision fails.

The Bush administration's vision

George bush ran for office with a clear understanding of what he wanted the
armed forces to be and to do. In his 1999 campaign speech at the Citadel, he
said that the purpose of the armed forces was to deter, fight, and win wars.
He eschewed peacekeeping and nation-building entirely. He promised to
withdraw rapidly from Kosovo and Bosnia, stating "we will not be permanent
peacekeepers, dividing warring parties. That is not our strength or our
calling." He declared, "Sending our military on vague, aimless and endless
deployments is the swift solvent of morale." These announcements were
enshrined in the motto, "superpowers don't do windows."

Candidate Bush's determination to avoid "operations other than war" (ootw)
was matched by a determination to transform the military. Clearly implying
that the Clinton administration had let transformation go as part of its
general neglect of the armed forces, Bush proclaimed that a new era would
dawn. His transformation vision depended on information technology and the
long-range precision strikes it made possible: "Power is increasingly
defined, not by mass or size, but by mobility and swiftness. Influence is
measured in information, safety is gained in stealth, and force is projected
on the long arc of precision-guided weapons."

President Bush did not change his views on military affairs, even during and
after the Afghan war. According to Bob Woodward's account in Bush at War
(Simon and Schuster, 2002), the president announced at a critical meeting of
his war cabinet during the Afghan war, "I oppose using the military for
nation building. Once the job is done, our forces are not peacekeepers. We
ought to put in place a U.N. protection and leave." That course of action
turned out to be impossible, and thousands of American troops are still in
Afghanistan today, supporting a weak and unstable government. One of the
reasons for the weakness of that government is that the troops entered only
after the critical damage had been done and in numbers far too small to
achieve the political objective.

But Bush saw the war in Afghanistan as vindicating his vision of future war.
In his December 2001 speech at the Citadel, the president declared,
"Afghanistan has been a proving ground for this new approach. These past two
months have shown that an innovative doctrine and high-tech weaponry can
shape and then dominate an unconventional conflict. . . . The conflict in
Afghanistan has taught us more about the future of our military than a
decade of blue ribbon panels and think-tank symposiums." He concluded, "When
all of our military can continuously locate and track moving targets - with
surveillance from air and space - warfare will be truly revolutionized."

"Network-Centric Warfare"

Rumsfeld set out to implement Bush's transformation vision with enthusiasm.
He established the Office of Force Transformation in October 2001 and gave
it the mission of synchronizing all of the transformation efforts of the
services. The vision that the new office would embody was made clear by the
selection of its first director, retired Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski.
Cebrowski had served in the Navy for more than 37 years. He had commanded a
carrier air wing, the aircraft carrier uss Midway, and the uss America
carrier battle group. He saw combat in both Vietnam and Operation Desert
Storm. He retired from the position of president of the Naval War College.
The new vision resonated with his experience as a naval officer, since naval
warfare is characterized by operations in a fluid medium against limited
arrays of targets on sea or on land.

Cebrowski was the perfect man to head an office charged with implementing
the administration's transformation vision. Not only had he served as
Director, Command, Control, Communications, and Computers of the Joint Staff
(the body under the Joint Chiefs of Staff), but he helped to develop and to
publicize a distinct vision of future warfare called Network-Centric Warfare
(ncw). As the new head of the Defense Department's transformation effort,
Cebrowski enshrined ncw as the goal of that effort and has repeatedly
declared that transformation programs in the services will be judged by the
extent to which they approach the ncw ideal.

It is difficult to define what, exactly, Network-Centric Warfare is. The
clearest and most detailed exposition of the idea is given by David S.
Alberts, John J. Gartska, and Frederick P. Stein in a book called Network
Centric Warfare: Developing and Leveraging Information Superiority (ccrp
Publications, second edition, 1999). Two of the authors were serving on the
Joint Staff at the time the book was published, and the other was a retired
U.S. Army colonel. Admiral Cebrowski figures prominently in the

Alberts, Gartska, and Stein explain ncw in these terms:

  We define ncw as an information superiority-enabled concept of operations
that generates increased combat power by networking sensors, decision
makers, and shooters to achieve shared awareness, increased speed of
command, higher tempo of operations, greater lethality, increased
survivability, and a degree of self-synchronization. In essence, ncw
translates information superiority into combat power by effectively linking
knowledgeable entities in the battlespace.

ncw thus aims to use the "near-perfect" intelligence that American
satellites, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (uavs), and other "sensors"
are supposed to provide to permit commanders to identify the right targets
and destroy them with precision-guided munitions.

ncw reflects an effort to translate a business concept of the 1990s into
military practice. It is drawn explicitly from the examples of companies
like Cisco Systems, Charles Schwab,, American Airlines, and Dell
Computers, among others. According to Network Centric Warfare, all of these
companies attained dramatic "competitive advantages" in their fields by
creating vast and complex information networks. These companies can predict
the level and types of product inventory they will need by tracking the
orders of all of their customers. They can keep those inventories low by
informing suppliers the moment products leave the shelves. They remain
maximally adaptable by building products to the exact specifications of each
customer and only when the customer wants them. In every case, information
technology permitted enormous efficiencies by allowing corporations to make
accurate predictions, minimize risk, and adapt rapidly to changing

ncw applies this concept to the military. The key is achieving information
superiority over the enemy: in lay terms, knowing more about ourselves, the
battlefield, and the enemy than the enemy does and preventing him from
knowing about us. Information superiority promises new capabilities in
warfare: "Achieving information superiority increases the speed of command
preempting adversary options, creates new options, and improves the
effectiveness of selected options. This promises to bring operations to a
successful conclusion more rapidly at a lower cost." The key to attaining
and using information superiority lies in the network. All of the sensors
available to the armed forces must be linked together electronically, from
satellites to individual soldiers. They must be linked seamlessly with the
commanders and the "shooters" to provide them with a "common operational
picture," a shared vision of what is going on throughout the battlespace,
the area in which operations are being conducted. This common operational
picture allows commanders to make decisions more rapidly and bring precision
fires to bear on the enemy more quickly and with greater effect.

The effect of ncw will be revolutionary and transformative, it is claimed.
Many of the age-old precepts of how to organize armed forces and fight wars
will have to be abandoned. The creation of a complete network and the
application of the various other concepts associated with ncw will "for the
first time . . . provide us with the possibility of moving beyond a strategy
based upon attrition, to one based upon shock and awe."

Shock and awe

Shock and awe" is a complicated concept. It was developed in the mid-1990s
by a team of former military officers and expounded in a book entitled Shock
and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance in 1996 by Harlan K. Ullman and James P.
Wade, two officers retired from the Navy and the Army respectively. Since
the goal of ncw is achieving "shock and awe," it is worthwhile to examine
the meaning and implications of that concept, especially in light of its
explicit invocation during the most recent war against Iraq.

"Shock and awe" relies upon having unprecedented information superiority
over the enemy. The key will be "dominant battlespace awareness," through
which "the United States should be able to obtain perfect or near-perfect
information on virtually all technical aspects of the battlefield and
therefore be able to defeat or destroy an adversary more effectively, with
fewer losses to ourselves and with a range of capabilities from long-range
precision strike to more effective close-in weapons." This aspect of the
concept raises significant technical concerns, since "dominant battlespace
awareness" means not merely knowing what is going on perfectly, but having
"the means to anticipate and to counter all opposing moves." The Air Force
has adopted this concept to such an extent that a press release identifies
as a critical "enabler" of its Global Strike Task Force a concept known as
"predictive battlespace awareness . . . which provides decision-makers the
ability to predict what actions the enemy is most likely to make."

"Shock and awe" will use this remarkable intelligence ability to neutralize
the enemy's "ability to command; to provide logistics; to organize society."
In a comparison that horrified some international observers when the Bush
administration promised to apply "shock and awe" to Iraq, Ullman and Wade
explain that "Shutting the [enemy] country down would entail both the
physical destruction of appropriate infrastructure and the shutdown and
control of the flow of all vital information and associated commerce so
rapidly as to achieve a level of national shock akin to the effect that
dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on the Japanese."

Significant ground forces, in this picture, are to be used only if the enemy
does not come quickly enough to heel in the aftermath of the "shock and awe"
attack. The attack on the enemy's critical infrastructure and armed forces
by long-range precision weapons must be protracted in order to "demonstrate
to the adversary our endurance and staying power, that is, the capability to
dominate over as much time as is necessary less [sic] an enemy mistakenly
try to wait it out and use time between attacks to recover sufficiently. If
the enemy still resisted, then conventional forms of attack would follow
resulting in the physical occupation of territory. Control is thus best
gained by the demonstrated ability to sustain the stun effects of the
initial rapid series of blows long enough to affect the enemy's will and his
means to continue."

"Shock and awe," Network-Centric Warfare, dominant (or predictive)
battlespace awareness - these are the critical concepts that define the
current visions of U.S. military transformation as they are being planned,
programmed, and executed today. They rely unequivocally on having
essentially perfect intelligence about the enemy such that American
commanders will be able to predict what he will do in time to take action to
prevent it. They also rely on the ability, both technical and political, to
destroy whatever targets this perfect intelligence tells the commanders are
critical to shocking and awing the enemy.

The politics of regime change

There is a great deal of merit to the concepts of ncw and "shock and awe."
The idea of networking all of the sensors, commanders, and shooters in the
armed forces and creating common operational pictures is a good one and
should be pursued aggressively. ncw's goals of making the armed forces more
adaptive, responsive, and versatile are also laudable. The "shock and awe"
goal of defeating the enemy rapidly and decisively has been the aim of every
major military from the dawn of time and should remain the goal of our
military today. The dubiety of the concepts of perfect intelligence and
"predictive battlespace awareness" are more troublesome, but they cannot be
explored further in this article.

The most important problem with these visions of war is not anything within
them, but the fact that they leave out the most important component of war -
that which distinguishes it from organized but senseless violence. Neither
ncw nor "shock and awe" provides a reliable recipe for translating the
destruction of the enemy's ability to continue to fight into the
accomplishment of the political objectives of the conflict.

Both ncw and "shock and awe" focus on the rapidity with which the U.S. will
begin, conduct, and end hostilities. They also insist that the American
armed forces must retain a much lighter "footprint" in the theater. Because
the information age has dramatically increased our ability to move
information without increasing our ability to move tangible objects, it has
made (in the words of Network Centric Warfare) "the movement of information
far less costly than the movement of physical things. Thus, the economic
dynamics of the information age will drive solutions that leave people and
machines where they are (a smaller in-theater footprint), and use
information to make those in theater more effective - that is, to find ways
to put them in the right place more often, and mass effects rather than
forces. Only the pointy end of the spear will move on the battlefield of the
future." The question at once emerges: What happens behind the pointy end of
the spear? That is a critical question in war, because what happens behind
the pointy end of the spear may well determine the political outcome of the

President Bush has transformed American security policy by declaring a
doctrine not only of preemptive (or preventive) action, but of regime
change. The U.S. has fought two such wars already since 9-11, and Bush has
made it clear repeatedly that he is willing to contemplate others. Regime
change is a complicated business. As historians of revolutionary wars know
well, it is much easier to destroy a sitting regime than to establish a
legitimate and stable new one. Cycles of violence in Latin America and
Africa, the Soviet failure in Afghanistan, Napoleon's defeat in Spain all
show how readily even a relatively stable and secure government can be
overthrown from within or without - and how difficult it can be to bring an
end to the chaos and violence that normally follow. The true center of
gravity in a war of regime change lies not in the destruction of the old
system, but in the creation of the new one. ncw and "shock and awe" are
silent on that most important task.

Both theories rely predominantly on long-range precision-guided munitions
fired from aircraft, from naval ships, and, in some cases, from limited
numbers of ground vehicles. The primary mechanism for influencing the
situation in both concepts is destroying things and killing people. It is
easy to ask flippantly whether that is not what war is all about. The answer
is no. Combat is characterized by breaking things and killing people; war is
about much more than that.

If the most difficult task facing a state that desires to change the regime
in another state is securing the support of the defeated populace for the
new government, then the armed forces of that state must do more than break
things and kill people. They must secure critical population centers and
state infrastructure. They have to maintain order and prevent the
development of humanitarian catastrophes likely to undermine American
efforts to establish a stable new regime. The notion articulated by the
advocates of "shock and awe" that the U.S. should destroy the infrastructure
that keeps the enemy's country functioning reflects the degree to which they
ignore this problem.

To be fair, this problem is a new one in the history of war. Never has it
been possible to destroy the enemy's armed forces and command and control
centers without also physically occupying his territory. The only previous
attempt was the strategic bombing of World War ii, which substituted
destruction for occupation. The advent of precision-guided munitions and
expert targeting systems has made it possible to destroy the enemy's ability
to wage war without killing his civilians and even, if given enough time,
skill, and luck, without occupation. The current generation of
transformation enthusiasts has largely seized upon that fact as a liberation
from the need to use ground forces, but they have not, for the most part,
recognized its liabilities.

Imagine the following scenario. The U.S. has decided to change the regime in
country x, which is currently ruled by an oppressive dictatorship actively
hostile to America. U.S. armed forces launch a campaign of "shock and awe"
using ncw concepts and systems. They shatter the command and control of the
armed forces and the paramilitary police. They destroy all of the
communications systems in the country. They take down significant parts of
the electrical power grid in order to get at systems hidden in civilian
areas that they prefer not to bomb directly for fear of collateral
casualties. They destroy a significant number of enemy military systems. Let
us imagine that, faced with this destruction, the enemy government breaks
and flees (although recent events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and
elsewhere highlight the dangers of lightly accepting this critical
assumption of both ncw and "shock and awe"). Let us suppose, finally, that
the entire campaign was conducted with no significant American presence in
the country. What is the situation in x?

The destruction of the army and a paramilitary police have deprived the
society of all law and order. Jubilant crowds liberated from an oppressive
tyranny sack and loot government offices - and, carried away in their
enthusiasm, begin the process of "wealth redistribution" on a large scale.
Collaborators and suspected collaborators of the regime are summarily killed
when they can be found, and such activities serve also as a cover for the
settling of many a private score. Local individuals rise to power in various
regions based on their abilities to get their neighbors to work together to
restore order and essential services. When American (or U.N.) forces finally
roll in to try to install a government of the variety desired, the locals
frequently view them with mistrust and hostility. Some even become nostalgic
for the old, brutal regime because they enjoyed a greater degree of

They may resent the fact that American bombs shattered their society and
created a humanitarian crisis despite the fact that those bombs were
carefully aimed to avoid harming them directly. They may equally resent U.S.
efforts to install leaders suitable to American interests despite the
pragmatic choices of the local populace. At a minimum, the normal
functioning of the society in x has been crushed under the weight of "shock
and awe," and the absence of American ground forces has created a vacuum
calling forth all of the baser and most violent instincts of the locals - in
addition, no doubt, to some of the nobler ones. This scenario is the likely
result of the application of "shock and awe" and ncw as they are embodied in
U.S. military transformation plans.

This description is not so much of Iraq but of Afghanistan. In Iraq the
presence of the equivalent of four divisions provided the coalition with the
ability to control Baghdad and Basra and, subsequently (and with some
difficulty), Mosul, Tikrit, and other important population centers. There
were not enough ground forces to do the job adequately, and they were not
sufficiently trained to transition immediately from war-fighting to
peacekeeping. The deliberate destruction of the Iraqi communication system
and parts of its power grid during the war compromised that transition even
more. The violence and looting were among the results, and they tarnished
America's image in Iraq and in the world as well, hindering the development
of a new regime in Iraq in accord with U.S. wishes. With more ground forces
immediately available and a better thought-out plan for using them as the
war ended, much of this difficulty could have been avoided. It is unlikely
that those failures will have denied us the achievement of our political
goal in Iraq, but they have certainly made it harder.

But Afghanistan, not Iraq, is the model for America's future wars according
to our transformation programs. And the outcome of that way of war resembles
the grim scenario pictured above much more closely. Throughout the conduct
of active operations against the Taliban, the U.S. had only a handful of
Special Forces (sf) soldiers on the ground and no forces from the regular
Army or Marines at all. The sf troops worked with local Afghan militias to
help them communicate with each other and, most important, with American
aircraft and ships that could rain down precision-guided munitions on
appropriate Taliban targets. Many of those militias were bribed to fight
with cia money, which was much easier to get into Afghanistan than American
ground forces.

When the Taliban broke and fled, however, no one was in control of the
country. The Northern Alliance occupied Kabul, but everyone knew that they
could not simply form a government, since they represented only minority
ethnicities within Afghanistan. Friendly Pashtun tribes occupied Kandahar
and its surroundings, but they proved remarkably reluctant to purge their
ranks of Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers. Elsewhere, regional warlords
used their cia money to set up their own independent palatinates. Violence
broke out across the country. It became impossible for individuals to travel
safely from one city to another without encountering roadblocks belonging to
warlords and independent bandits. Fighting broke out among rival groups.

With great difficulty, the U.S. managed to broker the formation of a
government it found suitable - one that awarded de facto control of the
country to its Northern Alliance friends with the fig leaf of Pashtun
control in the form of President Hamid Karzai. That government was unable to
establish its legitimacy beyond Kabul for more than a year, and even now the
painstaking process continues only because it is supported by thousands of
American and international troops. It is hard to imagine that those troops
will be able to withdraw anytime soon without completely undermining the
stability of the new regime. Regime change via precision weapons in
Afghanistan has created a mess for which the U.S. is responsible.

What would the scenario look like if American ground forces were present in
sufficient numbers with adequate training and planning for the transition
from war to peace? First, there would be no doubt about who was in control
and no power vacuum. The armed forces that had defeated the old government,
and that thereby held the respect of the population, would be visibly in
charge of the new situation. The likelihood is that the locals would mostly
simply adapt to the change of leadership rather than attempting to take
advantage of the situation for their own benefit. It would not be necessary
to put down individuals claiming to wield local authority before installing
a government that suited U.S. political goals. It would be much easier,
therefore, for that new government to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the
people, since it would not seem to be usurping the authority of a nascent
"native" government.

In addition, despite Bush's hostility to the concept, American soldiers and
Marines have extensive experience with peacekeeping. They know how to
separate hostile groups, how to restore police authority and keep order, how
to dispense food and medical supplies. They even know how to set up
emergency hospitals, generators, and water purification and treatment plants
and how to get sewage systems working again. In short, American soldiers and
Marines can provide all of the essential services necessary to keep a
defeated society functioning, to stave off humanitarian disasters, and to
prevent the population from becoming resentful at the destruction of their
lives and society and the collapse of order. They can establish the critical
preconditions for a relatively smooth transfer of power from the defeated
regime to the desired one - but only if they are there from the outset. The
current Defense Department programs make it unlikely that they will be.

Transformation programs

The bush administration has been allocating defense resources in accord with
the priorities and vision of future war defined by ncw and "shock and awe."
All of the major transformation efforts in the military services and the
major military systems under research, development, and construction focus
on improving the armed forces' ability to destroy enemy targets precisely,
rapidly, and from hundreds (or thousands) of miles away. One Air Force
officer went so far as to claim that it is possible "that in our lifetime we
will be able to run a conflict without ever leaving the United States."

The systems highlighted in the Department of Defense's press release
describing the fy 2004 budget request demonstrate this trend. Apart from
national missile defense and upgrades to the Patriot air defense system, the
main programs described as being transformational were: the Navy's cvn21
aircraft carrier, the ddx land-attack destroyer, the cg(x) air defense
cruiser, the conversion of four Trident ballistic missile submarines to
carry land-attack Tomahawk cruise missiles and Special Forces teams, new
satellite systems, new digital communications systems, space-based radar,
unmanned aerial vehicles, the Army's Future Combat System, Stryker Interim
Brigade Combat Teams, and the Comanche helicopter. The budget also includes
support for the Joint Strike Fighter (jsf) and the f-22.

In general terms, the Navy is working hard to get its ships closer to the
coastlines of enemy states so that they can participate more effectively in
the precision-strike operations that are rapidly becoming their primary
reason for existence. Considerable doubts have arisen about the utility of
the jsf and the f-22, but the Air Force has been able to save those programs
by arguing that they, too, support transformation by augmenting U.S.
precision-strike capabilities. All of the services are working hard to
implement the technical concepts of Network-Centric Warfare in their
systems, and even to retrofit older systems with the new technology.

The Army's programs are also taking that service firmly in the direction of
ncw and focusing on the ability to attack the enemy from stand-off ranges.
The technological core of the Objective Force - the Army of the future - is
the Future Combat System (fcs). The fcs is a "family of systems" including
the equivalents of tanks and infantry carriers as well as unmanned aerial
vehicles and robots. In a white paper, the Army describes the role of the
Objective Force on the battlefield as follows:

  Objective Force Units will see first, understand first, act first and
finish decisively as the means to tactical success. Operations will be
characterized by developing situations out of contact; maneuvering to
positions of advantage; engaging enemy forces beyond the range of their
weapons; destroying them with precision fires; and, as required, by tactical
assault at times and places of our choosing. Commanders will accomplish this
by maneuvering dispersed tactical formations of Future Combat Systems units
linked by web-centric c4isr capabilities for common situational dominance.

The emphasis throughout this vision is on stand-off capabilities. The
situation will be developed "out of contact," that is, by satellite and
airborne sensors rather than by the armed reconnaissance of ground elements.
Yet one of the advantages of using ground forces to conduct reconnaissance
is that the very presence of such forces compels the enemy to react. In this
way it is possible to gain an understanding not only of where the enemy is,
but also of how he is likely to behave when the attack begins. Long-range
sensors cannot discern these characteristics of an enemy force because
frequently the enemy does not know how he will react until he is actually
confronted with a particular situation. It is clear that "developing the
situation" has come to mean, even for the Army, simply identifying targets.

Once the target set has been developed, Objective Force units will fire
their own long-range precision munitions and destroy the enemy before they
come into range of his own weapons. In this way, they will largely duplicate
capabilities that the other services have already perfected. It matters not
at all where a precision weapon is launched from as long as it can reach and
destroy its target. Having ground forces that can deliver such weapons does
not, by itself, present any advantage over having air and sea forces that
can do so if the objective is simply target destruction.

The Army has adopted this approach for two major reasons. The first is
casualty aversion. The safest way to fight is never to be within range of
the enemy's guns. Army leaders, laudably trying to minimize American
casualties, have seen in the superior range and destructiveness of stand-off
weapons a way to achieve that goal. The other reason, however, is that it
seems highly likely that individual fcs vehicles will be unable to survive
in close combat with enemy systems.

Deployability vs. survivability

The army has identified "deployability" as the most critical characteristic
of its future forces. They must be able to move from the U.S. to anywhere
overseas in a matter of hours. The Army leadership has concluded, therefore,
that weapons systems must be lighter. That conclusion means that, at least
for the foreseeable future, those systems will not be able to withstand
direct enemy attack as well as current systems do.

The Objective Force gets around this problem by redefining the concept of
"survivability." In the past, a vehicle was survivable if its armor plating
was thick enough to withstand the impact of enemy weapons. The problem is
that such armor protection today is extremely heavy: The m1 tank weighs 70
tons. It is not at all clear that materials permitting a much lighter
vehicle to have the same degree of protection will be developed by 2008, the
target date for fielding the first elements of the fcs.

So now the Objective Force relies not on being able to survive enemy
attacks, but on being able to destroy the enemy before he can attack.
Survivability has become an offensive function: "Objective Force
survivability will be linked to its inherently offensive orientation, as
well as its speed and lethality. By seizing the initiative and seeing,
understanding, and acting first, the Objective Force will enhance its own
survivability through action and its retention of the initiative." This
issue was put even more clearly in a recent evaluation of the progress of
the development of the fcs family of vehicles: "Survivability is uniquely
dependent on the effectiveness of network integration to ensure that the fcs
[Unit of Action - equivalent to a brigade] can see first, understand first,
and act first, [sic] finish decisively. The objective is to engage and
destroy the enemy before the enemy can close with the fcs [Unit of Action]."
Because information superiority will permit the Army to avoid close combat,
lightness is regarded as a virtue in itself.

Although Army transformation papers always make a point of adding that the
fcs vehicles must be able to survive on their own, their own concepts for
employing the system belie that claim. If the systems can survive on their
own, then their survivability is not "uniquely dependent" on being able to
"see first, understand first, and act first." The repeated statements of
that dependence bring into question the Army's own belief about the ability
of its systems to survive enemy attacks on their own.

This problem is central to Army transformation, although it is generally
relegated to the last few slides and covered very quickly in Army briefings.
If the systems cannot survive on their own in the presence of enemy forces,
if they can survive only by killing everything that might harm them, then
they cannot play their necessary role in operations other than war,
including those supporting the transition from war to peace.

Shock, awe, and peacekeeping

The advocates of ncw and "shock and awe" do not ignore peacekeeping,
nation-building, and other operations other than war. In 1995, the Institute
for National Strategic Studies Center for Advanced Command Concepts and
Technology at the National Defense Univeristy held a workshop to consider
approaches to the development of technologies applicable to such situations.
It discussed non-lethal weapons, the use of advanced technological training
systems to prepare troops for ootw, the development of body armor and
improved language translation capabilities, and intelligence systems. The
latter consisted of sensors, displays, and dissemination methods/devices.
According to OOTW: The Technological Dimension (National Defense Univeristy
Press, 1995), sensors included "humans with enhanced capability (night
vision, etc.) to micro-sensors that monitor and report on the operational
and tactical situations. Unmanned or remote sensors can substitute for
humans and thereby limit troop exposure in dangerous areas."

The application of such technological developments to ootw environments
holds a certain amount of promise, but the key will be in the approach to
the problem those technologies are applied to. Here the situation is more
worrisome. The authors of Shock and Awe (one of whom participated in the
study on technologies in ootw) believe that their approach to war is also an
approach to operations other than war:

  In ootw, the Rapid Dominance J[oint] T[ask] F[orce] 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.

The continued emphasis on reducing the number of American troops deployed in
the theater (it is odd to call the area in which operations other than war
take place a "battlefield") by relying on robots and uavs and on finding and
attacking targets highlights an incomprehension of the basic problems
entailed in ootw. The throwaway line that armor will continue to be
important in ootw is not persuasive in the context of theories that argue
that armor has no validity in future combat. Will the U.S. stand up
"peacekeeping" or "ootw" units that are armored while removing the armor
from the rest of the force? It seems unlikely. American forces in ootw
missions are likely to have the same systems that rely on "seeing first" and
"shooting first" as the rest of the Army.

But peacekeepers cannot shoot everyone who might harm them. There are many
situations, even in war, in which it will not be desirable to destroy every
enemy tank and military vehicle that might come within range of our systems.
Success in such operations relies on taking risks mitigated by the fact that
American soldiers have a sporting chance of survival even if the enemy opens
fire. In many circumstances it is highly desirable to allow the enemy to
take the first shot. Otherwise, the peacekeeping force risks generating a
crisis that might otherwise have been avoided and compromising the success
of its own mission.

But forces in lightly armored vehicles that rely on their ability to kill
things to survive cannot afford to let the enemy shoot first. The best they
could hope for would be intelligence systems that would warn them every time
someone was about to shoot at them - so they could kill first. But how will
that look on cnn? The world, and the locals, will see only a succession of
"unprovoked" American attacks on "innocent villagers." This entire doctrine
is inappropriate to any concept of ootw that stands a chance of achieving
political success.

In sum, Army transformation has taken the same path as the rest of defense
transformation, focusing on the rapid identification and destruction of
targets from great distances at the expense of the capabilities needed to
mingle with the local population and enemy military forces safely and
effectively in a complex peacekeeping or transitional environment. The rest
of the transformation program is developing in such a way as to value
stand-off weapons over the employment of any ground forces at all. The flaws
in Army transformation may thus become irrelevant because of the larger
flaws inherent in defense transformation overall.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Operation iraqi freedom has done nothing to slow these trends. As the war
ended, a chorus began to sing the praises of military transformation as
demonstrated in that war. One reporter declared, "Iraq, in fact, may be
remembered as the first true war of the information age, when
command-and-control technology took over the battlefield." Vice President
Cheney claimed that the war provided "proof positive of the success of our
efforts to transform our military." Cebrowski himself gleaned lessons from
the conflict that reinforce the direction in which transformation was
already headed. As Aerospace Daily reported (April 23, 2003), a " 'fertile
area' to research for lessons learned, he said, is the level of
network-centric warfare practiced by small units or isolated systems - the
'last mile of connectivity.' . . . A key focus will be studying 'differences
in performance and tactics by people who were well-connected at the tactical
level and who were not.'" Asked about the role the m1 tanks played in the
war, Cebrowski concluded that "the Army's tanks should be at most half the
weight they are now, but equipped with better sensors to improve situational
awareness. 'I come down more on the speed and information side,' he said."

Although some observers, most of them attached to the Army, have attempted
to argue that this war demonstrated the continued centrality of ground
forces, the trend is very much in the other direction. More and more,
Operation Iraqi Freedom is used to emphasize the importance and value of
long-range stand-off weapons systems and their superiority to "traditional"
methods of war that include the use of ground forces. Once again, the mantra
is that we have entered a "new era" and are developing a "new American way
of war." It is natural that, in such a context, the focus of attention
should be on the things that are new, such as the concepts of ncw and our
weapons that are described as not merely smart, now, but "brilliant."

But is this lesson the right one? Did Iraqi Freedom really prove that ncw is
opening the path to a bright new dawn in which ground forces - indeed,
manned weapons systems of any variety - will be unnecessary? Such
conclusions are overdrawn and proceed more from seeing what some would like
to see than from carefully examining the events themselves. In many
respects, even the questions are wrong. If one starts by asking whether or
not the war has "proven" the validity of ncw concepts, there is a great
danger of focusing so closely on that question as to miss the bigger

How did we actually win the war? One problem that bedevils this question is
that the Iraqi armed forces were in poor shape to confront us. The U.S. and
its allies smashed the Iraqi military thoroughly in 1991. They destroyed
enormous quantities of the most significant Iraqi equipment, including a
large percentage of Iraq's modern tank and artillery systems. Saddam had to
remove entire units from his order of battle. The Tawakalna Republican
Guards division destroyed at the Battle of 73 Easting, for instance, was
disbanded completely and had not even a namesake in the most recent

The sanctions the U.N. imposed on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait
eviscerated Saddam's attempts to restore his military. He was unable to
replace destroyed hardware and unable to train his army properly even to
1991 levels, let alone to the level that would have been necessary to pose a
serious challenge to U.S. forces today. Because of U.N.-imposed "no-fly"
zones, he was not in control of large portions of his own territory. U.S.
and British warplanes had been bombing his antiaircraft sites and radar
installations for a decade.

Saddam's plan to seed the rear of the coalition forces with Fedayeen was
inventive but inadequate. Those troops did not have the weapons necessary to
conduct the guerrilla warfare Saddam had wished, which would have been
challenging in any case given Iraq's terrain. Saddam also intended, wisely,
to blow up the bridges that led over the Euphrates and, perhaps, the Tigris.
For unknown reasons his troops failed to execute that plan, which might well
have delayed the coalition offensive significantly.

Above all, Saddam seems to have relied on an overly optimistic notion of
what would happen at the level of international politics. He seeded Basra,
Najaf, Baghdad, and other critical cities with troops specifically intended
to prevent the populations from "going over" to the coalition. He eschewed
the use of chemical and biological weapons, although he did lob some banned
(but conventionally armed) missiles at coalition forces and Kuwait. He seems
to have been determined to prevent U.S. forces from entering Baghdad for as
long as possible. Rather than deploying his troops within the city, as many
in the West had feared he would, he deployed the bulk of his Republican
Guard troops to the south of his capital and attempted to fight coalition
forces as they advanced. When allied air and ground attacks had seriously
depleted the ranks of those defenders, he even reinforced them with troops
drawn from further north.

The likeliest explanation is that Saddam hoped that, as the war dragged on,
outrage against the coalition attack would mount. The French, Germans,
Russians, Belgians, and Chinese had all manifested hostility to the
invasion. Saddam may well have hoped that if the U.S. did not win speedily,
those countries would press America and Britain to accept a compromise. He
may also have hoped that the sight of American forces in Iraq and the deaths
of Arabs, played up graphically and dramatically on al-Jazeera, would
provoke an explosion in the "Arab street" that would at least distract the
coalition and, possibly, force it to negotiate a settlement that left him,
or perhaps a relative, in power in Iraq.

As a result of this strategy, whatever precisely had motivated it, Saddam
did not make things as hard for the coalition as he might have. A large
proportion of his military equipment remained in compact, concentrated
formations in the open - presenting excellent and easy targets for our
airpower. It is worth noting that the presence of American ground troops in
significant numbers was the primary reason for this deployment. Having
decided, for whatever reason, to oppose the advance of the coalition ground
forces, Saddam had to concentrate his own troops to do so. If there had been
no coalition ground offensive, it is almost certain that Saddam would have
dispersed his own ground troops to positions of better cover and thereby
made their destruction from the air more arduous and time-consuming.

Rather than concentrating the zealots who made up the Saddam Fedayeen for a
climactic battle in the streets of Baghdad, moreover, Saddam dispersed them
in small pockets throughout the country, where they were unable to achieve
anything of operational significance. He did little to try to impede the
rapid forward movement of coalition forces. The bottom line is that the
coalition forces could probably have "demonstrated" the "validity" of just
about any concept of war against such a foe.

It is possible, nevertheless, to discern some lessons from this war as long
as we are careful to consider not merely what Saddam did, but what a more
skillful and better prepared enemy might have done in his place. And there
were a number of events that are quite revealing about the limitations of
the ncw and "shock and awe" approaches, and about the continued significance
of heavy ground forces.

Coalition airpower and precision capabilities played a critical role in this
victory, to be sure. Using a high proportion of "smart" munitions, including
new satellite-guided bombs and bombs specifically designed to destroy
bunkers, the air attack severely degraded Saddam's ability to command and
control his forces, as well as destroying a significant (if yet to be
determined) percentage of those forces directly. Apparently Saddam was
reduced to using runners to send messages to his scattered units at times to
try to keep them in the loop. By accomplishing these tasks, the air campaign
made the ground campaign possible. Coalition forces could not have advanced
as rapidly with as little concern for their flanks and rear without the
successful air campaign.

But the air campaign by itself could not have won this war as rapidly or as
decisively as the joint air-land attack did. The "shock and awe" campaign
failed to accomplish its hoped-for goal of convincing Saddam or his
lieutenants to surrender. The reason for this failure has been disputed.
Harlan Ullman, one of the authors of Shock and Awe, deprecated the air
campaign the Pentagon had claimed would induce "shock and awe": "What they
announced at the beginning of the war as shock and awe seems to me was
largely pr," he told the Washington Times (March 31, 2003). "It did not
bring the great shock and awe that we had envisaged." He argued that "this
air campaign appears to come out of a book by strategic-air-power advocates,
who have argued that you start at the center and work your way out to
disrupt and destroy whatever." In his view, the coalition should have worked
at once to "take away [Saddam's] ability to run the country and the ability
to fight. . . . The argument is that may cause a sufficient amount of 'shock
and awe' it [sic] will force them to surrender. . . . As we theoretically
envisaged it, we would have gone straight after the Republican Guard and its
leadership and not just with precision-guided weapons." Ullman ignores the
fact that the destruction of more targets in order to achieve shock and awe
would have killed thousands more civilians and thereby further undermined
America's political objectives. Nor is it at all clear that such further
destruction would have made any difference to the Iraqi regime.

One would have thought that part of the problem was that the "shock and awe"
campaign itself did not live up to its promised level of intensity, but
defenders of "shock and awe" dismiss that notion. Fox News military analyst
Lieutenant General Thomas McInerny (usaf, Ret.) claimed that although the
attack fell short of the 3,000 precision-guided bombs dropped in the first
24 hours that the administration had promised, that exaggeration had been
good: "We wanted that [3,000-pgm number] out there. . . . That number has an
intimidating effect. There was a little tactical [sic] deception." This line
of argument is fully consistent with the principles outlined in Shock and
Awe itself:

  Psychological dominance means the ability to destroy, defeat, and neuter
the will of an adversary to resist; or convince the adversary to accept our
terms and aims short of using force. The target is the adversary's will,
perception, and understanding. . . . Clearly, deception, confusion,
misinformation, and disinformation, perhaps in massive amounts, must be

In the case of Iraq, this approach clearly failed. Saddam Hussein was not
cowed by the threat of war with the U.S., despite his knowledge that his
armed forces could not stand up to those of the coalition. The threat of the
"shock and awe" campaign, even thus exaggerated, also failed to bring him to
his knees. The implementation of that campaign, finally, did not convince
him to abandon his increasingly tenuous hold on power. He never surrendered.
At the time of this writing, months after the end of active resistance,
Saddam's location remains unknown. Whatever the abilities of shock and awe
in the future, Iraqi Freedom clearly demonstrated not its triumph but its
current limitations.

The reasons given for the restriction of the target lists and the
limitations on the intensity of the air attack are equally instructive.
Senior Air Force officials noted that, on the one hand, some targets were
too politically sensitive to hit, at least in the first round: "They defend
the decision to put some dual-use targets off-limits. They say this is a war
about liberation and the lives of average Iraqi citizens, and that the task
of postwar reconstruction must be considered," the Washington Times article
reported. These points are valid and important, and they also vitiate some
of the critical assumptions of "shock and awe." It was not the goal of the
U.S. to destroy Iraq's ability to continue to function as a country or a
society - only to drive Saddam from power. In that context, the "shock and
awe" goal of "shutting down the country" was completely inappropriate, and
the Air Force, wisely, did not try to accomplish it. Since that goal has
also been accepted as the goal of ncw, this consideration brings the
contradiction between the methods proposed and the ends desired into sharp

On the other hand, Air Force officials say that they did not destroy Saddam'
s communications and even television broadcasting capabilities completely
for an entirely different reason - doing so would have deprived them of the
ability to obtain the critical intelligence necessary to continue the
campaign: "Military sources say there are valid reasons for leaving some
structures alone, but acknowledge that doing so reduces the shock effect,"
according to the Washington Times article. "For example, Baghdad's state-run
tv gives the Bush administration an idea of who is in charge and who might
be dead. Leaving the telecommunications network up allows the National
Security Agency to eavesdrop on leadership conversations." It is an inherent
problem with an approach based on near-perfect intelligence derived from
electronic measures that the more one destroys the enemy's ability to
communicate, the less one can know "nearly perfectly" about his intentions
and actions. So much for "predictive battlespace awareness."

The failure of "shock and awe" to bring Saddam to heel is not surprising, at
least to those skeptical of the assumptions that underlie the concept. It
was more surprising that our airpower was not even able to prevent the Iraqi
ground forces from maneuvering on occasion into the immediate vicinity of
our own ground forces. On March 26, elements of the Republican Guard mounted
a daring armored raid south from Baghdad under cover of a sandstorm.
Although our airpower severely damaged the raiding forces and significantly
reduced their combat power, the raiders nevertheless made contact with the
lead elements of the Third Infantry Division - which promptly destroyed
them. Given all of the promises involved in near-perfect intelligence and
the ability to hit any target anywhere any time, it is hard to understand
how the supposedly helpless Iraqis managed to move a large armored force
close enough to make contact with our advanced guard.

Above all, however, the air campaign did not succeed in removing the regime.
Saddam's agents throughout the country kept order and prevented
pro-coalition demonstrations even in territory, like Basra, which the
coalition nominally controlled. When coalition forces had effectively
surrounded Baghdad while the air campaign against the city continued
mercilessly, the regime did not crumble. It fell only when our tanks drove
into Saddam's capital, thus visibly demonstrating to the world that Saddam
no longer controlled his country.

As a result of this fact, a considerable number of observers have asked
whether that war did not emphasize the importance of the defensive
survivability characteristics of the m1 tank. Cebrowski does not think so:
"Despite the strong showing of the m1 tank in Operation 'Iraqi Freedom',"
reported Jane's Defense Weekly in May, Cebrowski said that "he tends to
'come down more on the speed and information side' over the value of armour
in protecting a force in combat." He explained, "I look at these marvellous
navy and air force munitions and what they do to armour. I look at what one
of our own tank rounds does to everyone else's armour in the world. The
notion that steel protects just does not seem to be there because it does
not protect in the absolute."

It is worth briefly considering the record of the m1's performance in Iraq
and the role the heavy armored forces played in that victory. The Iraqis,
like most of the other enemies the U.S. can expect to face in the near and
even not-so-near future, did not try to launch any air- or sea-based
munitions against American forces. That was because they could not get any
aircraft into the skies, nor could any of their ships have survived against
our naval superiority long enough to get off rounds at land targets. If the
Iraqis had been able to contest American control over the air and sea,
moreover, critical assumptions that underlie both ncw and "shock and awe"
would have collapsed and the fate of U.S. armored forces would have been, in
many respects, only a small part of an enormous crisis. The notion that the
potential power of enemy naval and air munitions makes defending U.S.
vehicles with armor impossible is highly questionable.

Several m1s were lost, nevertheless, to enemy fire. None were killed by
Iraqi tank main guns. At least two were disabled when the Iraqis used
large-caliber, rapid-firing anti-aircraft guns to shoot through the "grill
doors" of the engine compartments and damage the engines. One of those tanks
was subsequently hit with a mortar round that set off its own ammunition in
a massive explosion. The tank was, of course, destroyed. The crew, however,
survived unharmed - including the driver, who was in the vehicle when its
ammunition exploded. It is possible to kill an m1, but it is extremely
difficult, and the tank's ability to protect its crew even when totally
destroyed is astonishing. This is a weapons system whose crew does not need
to fear having less than perfect intelligence about the enemy.

The effective invulnerability of the m1 against the Iraqis played a critical
role in the rapid, decisive victory that was Iraqi Freedom. On April 5,
2003, tanks, Bradleys, and other vehicles of the Third Infantry Division
drove into the heart of Baghdad and back out again. On April 7, they raced
into the center of the city and stayed. The Third did not have to wait
either until it had perfect intelligence about what was going on in the city
or until most of the enemy weapon's systems had been identified by uavs and
robots and destroyed with precision weapons. Relying on its superior armor
protection, it raced into the city before the "situation" had been fully
"developed." The Iraqi regime collapsed suddenly and spectacularly. The
attacks on Mosul, Tikrit, and elsewhere encountered much less resistance
than had been expected.

This method of "urban warfare" flew in the face of all of the received
wisdom about how to fight in cities. For more than a decade the U.S. armed
forces have been telling themselves and the world that urban warfare is
hard, manpower intensive, slow, and likely to cause high casualties. Many
have argued that urban warfare is a light infantry fight for which there is
little room for armor. No one believed that taking Baghdad would be rapid or

It is inappropriate to generalize about urban warfare from this one
experience. The Iraqi Army was weak to begin with and severely degraded at
the time of the strike, as was the senior civilian and military leadership
of the country. It is quite possible that another enemy would have made the
sort of "thunder run" that the Third Infantry Division conducted impossibly
costly. The fact remains, however, that the effective invulnerability of the
m1 tank made possible a rapid and decisive conclusion to the war. In the
days preceding that armored raid, analysts were still discussing a siege of
Baghdad or its methodical reduction.

There can be no doubt that the war would have dragged on for days, possibly
weeks longer if the U.S. had not had forces with the survival
characteristics of the m1 (consider how long Milosevic stood up under the
bombings of Operation Allied Force). The fastest and most bloodless approach
to ending a conflict rapidly and decisively combines airpower capabilities
of the sort ncw advocates with an effective and invulnerable ground force.

Transformation proponents are correct when they warn that the m1 will not
continue to be survivable forever. There are already systems available in
the leading militaries of the world that can kill it directly - and the
Saudis and Egyptians both have large fleets of m1s themselves. It is equally
clear, however, that the U.S. cannot afford to do away with the capabilities
the m1 provides without sacrificing the ability to finish the enemy quickly
and then transition rapidly to effective peacekeeping and nation-building.
The logical conclusion is that the transformation agenda must be redirected.
Instead of relying on "predictive battlespace awareness" and devoting all of
the available resources to stand-off weapons systems, the military should
prioritize efforts to develop vehicles and systems that can reliably protect
themselves and their crews passively without destroying the enemy. The
ability simply to sit on some spot and hold it without killing anyone is one
of the most important aspects of the Army's contribution to war, and it is
critical to peacekeeping. The preservation of that capability must be a
central part of any rational transformation program. Such a change in the
program seems unlikely, however, as long as the current trends within the
Pentagon remain strong.

Long-distance grand strategy

The notion that the U.S. should "be able to run a conflict without ever
leaving the United States" is deeply embedded in the plans and programs of
the Bush administration. Rumsfeld has been trying for more than a year to
reduce the size of the active-duty Army and the reserves by 20 percent in
order to pay for his vision of transformation. He has also supported a
series of proposals that would pull American forces out of their European
bases and Korea. The basic justification for these proposals is that our
long-range precision weapons make such forward basing unnecessary. Defense
Department officials recently argued, in fact, that simply letting the North
Koreans know that we have the capability to target their leadership in the
first strike of a conflict might be enough to deter them - and might make a
significant American presence in South Korea superfluous.

Just as the ideas about war that current transformation programs embrace
neglect the problem of moving from military victory to the attainment of
political objectives, so these proposals to slash overseas presence neglect
the political aspects of those deployments. American forces, especially
ground forces, deployed overseas represent a strong statement of U.S.
commitment to a region. They give the United States a powerful voice in
regional developments and help America to set the terms of political
discussions in regions of vital interest. They also, of course, facilitate
the rapid deployment of force to potential theaters of war - Europe is, as
the Army likes to say, "an ocean closer" to the Middle East than the U.S.
is. The United States must consider carefully the political consequences of
being seen to pull back from visible commitments it has sustained, in many
cases, for more than half a century.

Everyone knows that the U.S. can, in principle, defend any of its allies
from attack. The presence of American forces overseas has nothing to do with
that. The question is: Will the U.S. honor its agreements? The presence of
American forces in the theater of operations has made it much easier for
American leaders to persuade fearful allies that they would be defended. The
withdrawal of those forces could send the opposite message just as clearly.

The proposed cuts in the size of the Army may send the same message even
more powerfully. The U.S. Army now has 10 active divisions, two armored
cavalry regiments (the equivalent of a brigade, one-third of a division),
and one separate airborne brigade. Keeping one unit in a peacekeeping or
nation-building operation for a long period of time (more than six months or
so) requires the commitment of three units: one actually conducting the
mission, one recovering from it, and one training for it. The U.S. currently
has more than four divisions (approximately 15 brigades) in Iraq restoring
order. At its current strength, the Army cannot maintain a force of this
size in Iraq for more than a year. In addition, the Army now maintains more
than a brigade in Afghanistan and another in the Balkans. In order simply to
sustain the current peacekeeping and nation-building requirements the Bush
administration has undertaken - in other words, with no ability to conduct
any sort of operations elsewhere at all - the Army would need to have more
than 14 active divisions instead of the current 10.

The Defense Department projected in June that it would be possible in a
matter of a few months to begin reducing the commitment to Iraq down to two
divisions or even one. This prediction seems highly optimistic given the
current state of the country. Yet keeping only one division in Iraq for a
substantial period of time and maintaining current operations in Afghanistan
and the Balkans would require the permanent commitment of five divisions -
half the active-duty Army. If the Army's strength falls to eight divisions,
remaining forces will be insufficient to deal with any but the smallest
unexpected contingencies. We will be unable again to fight a war as
politically successful even as Iraqi Freedom.

Back to Clausewitz

If the u.s. is to undertake wars that aim at regime change and maintain its
current critical role in controlling and directing world affairs, then it
must fundamentally change its views of war. It is not enough to consider
simply how to pound the enemy into submission with stand-off forces. War
plans must also consider how to make the transition from that defeated
government to a new one. A doctrine based on the notion that superpowers don
't do windows will fail in this task. Regime change is inextricably
intertwined with nation-building and peacekeeping. Those elements must be
factored into any such plan from the outset.

It is a fundamental mistake to see the enemy as a set of targets. The enemy
in war is a group of people. Some of them will have to be killed. Others
will have to be captured or driven into hiding. The overwhelming majority,
however, have to be persuaded. They must be persuaded not merely of the
shocking awfulness of American power, but of the desirability of pursuing
the policies the U.S. wishes them to pursue. And they must not be driven
away from the pursuit of those policies by the horrors and opportunities
presented by a chaotic, lawless vacuum created by our precision weapons. To
effect regime change, U.S. forces must be positively in control of the enemy
's territory and population as rapidly and continuously as possible. That
control cannot be achieved by machines, still less by bombs. Only human
beings interacting with other human beings can achieve it. The only hope for
future success in the extension of politics that is war is to restore the
human element to the transformation equation.

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