The continuing change in strategic trends will provide the basis for a new military strategy that is guided by the Principles of War.
These implications serve to influence the concepts that drive our Armed Forces adaptations to the threats and environments within which they will operate – adaptations that are essential to our Generals’ and Admirals’ decision making when future crises and conflicts become a reality.
In the guardian role for our nation, it is natural that we focus more on possible combat operational challenges and threats than we do on emerging opportunities. From economic trends to vulnerability of cyber-attack and WMD attacks, we will outline those trends that remind us that we must be vigilant to what is changing in the world if we intend to maintain a dynamic and effective military. There is a strong note of urgency now in our efforts to balance and structure the Armed Forces for existing and future threats to the United States at home and abroad.
Every military force in history that has successfully adapted to the changing character of war and the evolving threats it faced did so by sharply defining the threats. We must frame future security problems and highlight their military implications stating how Joint Combat Forces will operate and be deployed to win and return to home base. This document will drive the concept and strategy that in turn will drive adaptation of joint combat operations utilizing ‘Lily Pad’ Launch and Strike operations.
We do not possess a clear crystal ball but we do know that the United States must change its current view of war fighting to operate in conventional and unconventional environments in a victorious manner. Political Correctness has no place in American strategy but Operational Security does!
War is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied. -Sun Tzu…The nature of the human condition will guarantee that uncertainty, ambiguity, and surprise will dominate the course of events. However carefully we think about the future; however thorough our preparations; however coherent and thoughtful our concepts, training, and doctrine; we will be surprised. Even the wisest of statesmen have found their assumptions about the future confounded by reality. The eighteenth century British leader, William Pitt, the Younger, declared in a speech before the House of Commons in February 1792:
The Art of War, trans. and ed. by Samuel B. Griffith (Oxford,1963), p. 63.
“Unquestionably there has never been a time in the history of our country when, from the situation in Europe, we might more reasonably expect fifteen years of peace, than we have at the present moment.”Within a matter of months, Britain would become embroiled in a conflict that would last nearly a quarter of a century and would kill more Europeans than any other war in history up to that time. In the broadest sense, the Joint Operating Environment examines three questions:
- What future trends and conflicts are likely to affect the United States and the Joint Force over the next quarter century?
- How are these trends and disruptions likely to define the future contexts for joint combat operations?
- What are the implications of these trends and contexts for the Joint Force?
As war at its essence is a human endeavor, then it follows that one of the most effective ways to understand human nature is by a close consideration of history. As such, rather than futuristic vignettes, the Joint Operating Environment uses history as a principal way to gain insight into the future. The discussion begins with the enduring nature of war, the causes and consequences of change and surprises, and the role of Strategy.
This is the unique contribution of the Joint Operating Environment to the broader discussion about the future. This document offers some “leading questions” about topics that may fall outside the traditional purview of studies, but that nonetheless has important implications for the future Joint Force.
We will find ourselves caught off guard by changes in the political, economic, technological, strategic, and operational environments. We will find ourselves surprised by the creativity and capability of our adversaries. Our goal is to eliminate surprise through better intelligence (human and technical).
Our goal is, by a careful consideration of the future, to suggest the attributes of a joint force capable of adjusting with minimum difficulty when the surprise inevitably comes. The true test of military effectiveness in the past has been the ability of a force to diagnose the conditions it actually confronts and then quickly adapt. In the end, it will be our imagination and agility to envision and prepare for the future, and then to adapt quickly to surprises, that will determine how the Joint Force will perform over the next twenty-five years.
The ability to adapt to the reality of war, its political framework, and its technical and industrial modes, and to the fact that the enemy also consists of adaptive human beings, has been the key component in military effectiveness in the past and will continue to be so in the future.
The Nature of War - We can predict kinds of war, or for what purposes, and we can only speculate or establish excellent intelligence about possible enemy intentions and the weapons/terror that they will bring to the fight. We can state with certainty that the fundamental nature of war will and is changing. In a Republic such as the United States, political aims, pressures, and hesitations have always conceived military operations – and will continue to do so but we must have leaders with wisdom and vision. “When whole communities go to war… the reason always lies in some political or ideological agenda or economic situation.” Tyranny runs its course through history of other peoples and internal strife effecting unsettling conflicts.
War is an act when diplomacy fails or is a preemptive act by an enemy, begun for the most part for political and ideological purposes (e.g., Nazis, Communist, and Radical Islam). Indeed, both groups and specific transnational movements such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas use force and terror for political ends. Thus, war retains its political/ideological dimension in the twenty-first century, even when it originates in the actions of non-state and transnational groups.
The Joint Force will operate in an international environment with no sanctuaries allowed where struggle and threat to US security exists. While the origins of war and conflict may rest on policy, a variety of factors has influenced the conduct of that struggle in the past and will do so in the future.
The tension between rational political calculations of power on one hand and secular or religious ideologies on the other, combined with the impact of passion and chance, makes the trajectory of any conflict difficult if not impossible to predict. Rational strategy is often difficult in a world where organizational processes, bureaucratic politics, legislative restrictions, and economic conditions may dominate choices.
The Joint Force will face actors who view the world through different lenses than we do. In coming decades, Americans must struggle to resist judging the world as if it operated along the same principles and values that drive our own country. In many parts of the world, actors will judge costs and risk much differently than we do.
Some of our enemies are eager to die for radical ideological, religious, or ethnic causes; enemies who ignore national borders and remain unbound by the conventions of the developed world – which leaves little room for negotiations or compromise. Among these, we face irreconcilable enemies capable of mobilizing large numbers of young men and women, to intimidate civilian populations with IEDs, machetes or to act as suicide bombers in open markets. It becomes a matter of survival when human passion takes over.