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Thread: Principles of War for the Battlefield of the Future

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    Principles of War for the Battlefield of the Future

    Principles of War for the Battlefield of the Future

    The United States would have fought its wars of the past half century far differently had Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Kim Il Sung, Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi Minh, Manuel Noriega, and Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons at the time.

    A world of nuclear-armed states will require the United States and its allies to revise force structures, strategy and doctrine, intelligence capabilities, command and control procedures, and logistics for major regional conflict scenarios. A proliferated world of potential adversaries equipped with weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them will require the US military to implement a "revolution in military affairs," one that may require significant departures from current US strategy, operational policies, and military capabilities.

    Clearly, US force planning and conflict preparation have not yet taken into account a "Saddam Hussein with nukes" to use Les Aspin's phrase when he announced the US Defense Counterproliferation Initiative. The Bottom Up Review, conducted by the Clinton Administration under then-Secretary of Defense Aspin, did not assume the United States would confront an adversary armed with weapons of mass destruction in either of the two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts (MRCs) that US forces are supposed to be able to fight and win. Yet, it is clear that radical and hostile states such as Iraq and Iran are probably just a few short years away from having a nuclear weapons capability and North Korea may already possess one. All three are presently credited with biological and chemical weapons capabilities.
    Implications for Military Strategy

    So how do you fight a NBC-armed sponsor of terrorism and intervention (NASTI) on the battlefield, if war breaks out? Do the old principles of war work in this kind of conflict? And just what are those principles which have guided US and allied forces in past wars? In the United States, even young ROTC students are taught the elements of war, summed up by the acronym MOSSCOMES:





    C-Command Unity



    E-Economy of Force


    Seven of these principles were extracted from the works of British major general J. F. C. Fuller, who provided them for the instruction of the British Army in World War I. They were then republished in a 1921 US Army training regulation and have been passed on in Air Force, Army, and Joint doctrine and professional military education publications since.

    Some of General Fuller's ideas may be applied without modification to future war against hostile radical adversaries armed with weapons of mass destruction. Other principles of war have to be modified to reflect changes in technology or situation. For example, WMD in enemy hands suggests that future commanders modify the way they apply the war- fighting principles of mass, maneuver, command unity, and taking the offensive initiative in combat. New technology provides new stealthy means of achieving surprise, and end-of-war residual enemy WMD capability may very well alter allied approaches to security and war termination ends and means.

    Further, there are some additional principles of war that Fuller did not address that deserve attention in an era marked by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These include the advantages to be gained by simultaneity and depth of attack, effective force-projection logistics, information dominance, and precision targeting.

    What is new and what is constant in this brave new proliferated world? Let us look first at the principle of "mass" in warfare.

    The Principle of Mass in Warfare

    The principle of mass suggests the wisdom of concentrating superior combat power at the decisive place and time in military operations in order to achieve decisive results. This massing of resources directed at key enemy vulnerabilities helps one's own forces to retain the initiative and makes it possible, together with the proper application of other principles of war, for outnumbered forces to achieve break- throughs and decisive war, campaign, and battle results.

    For example, Mao Tse-tung in his guerrilla war strategy emphasized the importance of achieving local superiority in battle even though one's own forces were greatly outnumbered overall in the conflict across all major theaters. His tactics when engaging the enemy called for ten against one, even if outnumbered ten to one at the strategic level. In Mao's strategy, proper choice of the time, place, and ratio of engaged forces could shift victory from the hands of larger-but-more diffused enemy forces, to those of less numerous-but-more highly concentrated forces that achieved greater mass at the points of contact.

    When J. F. C. Fuller wrote his treatise on the principles of war in World War I, mass was strongly correlated with numbers of ground troops concentrated in a given location against enemy ground forces in close proximity. Today, such massed units would be vulnerable to a different type of mass derived from weapons of mass destruction and precision guided munitions delivered by missiles, aircraft, or superguns. This gives a new meaning to "local superiority."

    Ideally, US forces can catch regional opponents in a paradigm shift, where the adversaries may adhere to the older notions of mass--that is massing of their armies. US forces can substitute the application of massed firepower for massed troops. In such a competition, massed allied firepower could put to flight or destroy massed enemy units.

    The increased lethality of conventional weapons has led to progressively greater dispersion of forces in the field with each passing era. For example, the density of troops deployed in the battle zone has decreased from an average of 4,790 troops per square kilometer in the Napoleonic Wars to just 2.34 troops per square kilometer in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. WMD threats will accelerate a historical trend toward a progressively emptier battlefield.

    As military technology has improved over time, firepower has increased and the size of units directing it and trying to avoid it has decreased.

    As one analyst observes:

    The logical end point of such developments (advanced conventional arms and WMD) is the replacement of the notion of concentration of mass with one emphasizing concentration of fire. Increasingly, modern armies of the future should achieve breakthroughs and victory without resorting to large masses of troops directed at vulnerable points. Instead, the combination of rapidly firing systems, precision weapons of long range, and advanced command and control systems will allow widely dispersed forces to focus their fire on specific points.

    Indeed, in combat with an adversary armed with WMD, one corollary to Fuller's dictum on "mass" is that dispersing one's own forces can make enemy WMD less cost-effective. A second corollary is that massed allied firepower needs to be directed first to destroying or degrading enemy WMD at the inception of combat to permit the later massing of one's own general purpose forces for combat in the war-termination phase of the conflict.

    Just as in the American Civil War and World War I, when massed offenses were slaughtered by heavily concentrated defensive firepower, the future possession of WMD in enemy hands should discourage the use massing of allied troops until after the opponents WMD are silenced or neutralized.9 If it looks like disabling early strikes cannot neutralize enemy WMD in a projected conflict, perhaps such an adversary should not be engaged in the first place, provided that is an option (i.e., if the war has not yet begun and if one's homeland and forces are not already engaged).

    Unfortunately, in some inherently unstable situations, if the adversary were to strike first with weapons of mass destruction, he might achieve victory, at least temporarily, in a regional conflict. If the adversary is vulnerable to an allied preemptive strike, he would have an incentive to use his WMD first. Such a perceived "use or lose" situation is inherently unstable and unpredictable, especially in a crisis or escalating conflict.

    Some analysts even suggest that the development of very advanced conventional armaments, combined with new strategy and organization of forces, can be a "revolution in military affairs," making the massing of troops impractical and dangerous. Thus, one of three courses of action may be adopted by the allied commander when faced with a NASTI armed force:

    * Desert Storm II: Proceed as if the threat did not exist, except to rely upon escalation dominance to deter the adversary from escalating to WMD use in the conflict.

    * Dispersed Storm: Adopt many measures to protect the allied force, such as disinformation, extended dispersal of units, downsizing of units, constant mobility, passive defenses, and active defenses while still engaging in traditional forms of warfare, relying also on escalation dominance to preserve intrawar deterrence of enemy WMD use.

    * Remote Engagement: Adopt a mode of "disengaged combat," where allied forces conduct their military operations at a substantial remove from their enemies.

    The first approach is the same approach that the United States and its coalition took with regard to possible Iraqi use of its biological warfare (BW), chemical warfare (CW), and Scud assets in the 1991 Gulf War. In this conflict, despite the vulnerability of allied forces and capitals, the allies used counterforce strikes and active and passive defenses to protect against Iraqi air and Scud attacks and used escalation dominance to deter the possible Iraqi use of available BW and CW assets. This combination might work again in the future if the adversary is similarly outclassed in the air, and where the preponderance of high-tech weapons is held by the allies. Nevertheless, it is a risky strategy that might backfire with huge downside results.

    The second approach is where forces similar to those sent to the Gulf War are given far more protection, by much improved air defenses, missile defenses, and passive defenses. The regional CINC would also reduce the number of lucrative theater targets available to the enemy by an extensive dispersal of his own forces and logistical units and by very pronounced use of mobility to increase enemy uncertainty concerning the location of key allied forces.

    The third approach is where the main allied force stays outside of enemy range and attempts to pick off his WMD and destroy his massed forces by air, missile, and special forces attacks before sending the bulk of the expeditionary force to engage him in the endgame. In remote engagements, the allied force would attempt to outrange the adversary and degrade his capability before closing and attempting to finish the conflict on allied terms.

    In the future, friendly forces may be well advised to avoid, where possible, close massed engagements with heavily armed enemy forces. Instead, they likely should adopt the Dispersed Storm or Remote Engagement postures as a mode of operations out of respect for the possible consequences of an enemy WMD strike, particularly if the adversary develops a capability well beyond that achieved by Iraq in 1991.

    There are trade-offs in adopting the Dispersed Storm mode of operations. On the one hand, failure to mass one's own troops can make them more vulnerable to enemy conventional attacks. Moreover, it would be difficult to conduct normal conventional operations in a dispersed mode. On the other hand, one would run less risk of having main force units obliterated by enemy WMD strikes in this mode. The tradeoffs of adopting the Remote Engagement mode of operations, when facing an enemy with WMD, has received less discussion, and deserves to be considered first.

    Some would argue that if the United States is faced with such a formidable opponent, the allies probably should first attempt to outrange them, dealing punishment from a distance while staying out of harm's way. In the words of former heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammed Ali, US and allied forces should "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." On the other hand, getting bogged down in massed armor and artillery duels, providing mass targets to enemy advanced weapons, is a route to heavy casualties and possible defeat.

    If military forces follow the strategy of disengaged combat, the battle front may be hard to find. Indeed, in such remote engagement warfare, it may not exist. The initial stages of combat might find two heavily armed rival forces, both dispersed, striking at each other from a distance, each attempting to secure an advantage by locating and striking the other's key units and assets, while simultaneously trying to stay out of harm's way from the massive and precise capabilities of the other.

    If remote engagement were adopted as a strategy, then only after sufficient damage has been inflicted on the adversary via disengaged combat, would an attempt be made to close and force a capitulation. If the adversary's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated with high confidence, this war-termination phase of conflict might resemble more traditional forms of combat. The opening scenarios of remote combat would require great standoff capabilities, the spreading and hiding of forces, intensive intelligence, attrition of enemy advanced capabilities, effective active and passive defensive measures, and extensive coordination of fire from many diverse points to the highest priority targets on the other side.

    In such conflicts, each of the armed services would need to be tightly coordinated with the others. Regional CINCs would need complete connectivity to theater forces under their command while likely having to operate from highly mobile and hard-to-target command posts.

    This suggests the need for superior generalship, superior targeting and battle damage assessment intelligence, combined with superior high-tech weapons. "Using the accuracy of advanced sensors and precision weapons, US forces may be able to jockey just out of the range of enemy artillery, tanks, and battlefield missiles, picking them off in turn."

    This kind of remote engagement conflict would require changes in US strategy, doctrine, training, and organization. Regional CINCs, in charge of fighting major regional conflicts, would have to be schooled in a different kind of war fighting from that pursued in the 1991 Gulf War, the 1964-74 Vietnam War, the 1950-53 Korean War, or World War II. Preliminary extensive war gaming, in-the-field exercises, and operational planning for the new type of warfare would be mandatory for later success in the region of combat.

    An enemy with WMD or very advanced conventional capabilities obviously poses severe dangers to choke points, ports of entry, regional air bases, and naval convoys. For example, aircraft carriers and their surrounding task forces might be very vulnerable to an adversary armed with nuclear or biological weapons. These floating airfields, capable of carrying up to 100 aircraft and holding a military population of 5,000 to 6,000, represent highly lucrative targets and may be inappropriate in the future for confronting such a very heavily armed regional foe capable of obliterating or sinking them.

    The US Navy in future combat against a "Saddam Hussein with nukes" may be forced to operate from more numerous, smaller, less expensive and more dispersed platforms, emphasizing ballistic and cruise missiles rather than naval aircraft as theater strike weapons. These might be augmented by longer-range, air-refueled, naval fighter-bombers launched from carriers outside the range of enemy aircraft or missiles that carried the threat of WMD bombardment and obliteration. How far the US Navy needs to go in these directions will be determined partly by how successful it is in developing fleet defenses against ballistic and cruise missiles.

    The US Army, likewise, may be forced to move away from strong reliance on heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers that fight close to enemy forces. Rather, Army units may be required to hit and locate the enemy at much greater ranges, at least in the earlier phases of battle, rather than close and attempt to destroy the NASTI enemy with heavy mechanized forces before his WMD capabilities have been neutralized. As one defense analyst observes, "such armored forces are designed to fight a war that US commanders should attempt to avoid, not bring about."

    US Air Force officials have become convinced that massed bomber attacks are less productive than a few stealthy bombers firing or dropping precision munitions at targets from a stand-off mode. A few low-observable aircraft are now able to penetrate enemy defenses with very few losses and inflict, via increased accuracy, greater damage than whole air armadas previously could inflict using less accurate bombs and missiles.

    As one Air Force analyst notes, with the revolution in accuracy, "it no longer took hundreds of bombers dropping thousands of bombs or even tens of bombers dropping scores of bombs to destroy a single target. Now, one aircraft often delivering only one weapon, could destroy one target."

    A third element of "mass" to be considered in combat with very heavily armed opponents is the need for whole-unit reinforcements. Armies, divisions, naval task forces, or air bases brought under NBC missile attack may suffer such wholesale losses in such short time periods that they may entirely cease to function as cohesive military units. In such horrific circumstances, front-line units may need to be replaced by entire units of similar capability and numbers, perhaps under new commanders due to the massive and traumatic nature of the losses suffered from WMD bombardment. Nuclear detonations, lethal nerve gas attacks, or clouds of deadly biological agents could annihilate entire defense sectors and open large gaps in friendly forces that could be filled only with fresh units that retained their cohesion and command, control, and communications linkages.

    Thus, when confronting a NASTI, or even a hostile state possessing very advanced conventional arms, it appears wise to rethink the advisability of massing one's own troops. Consider, for example, how different the outcomes of warfare might have been in the past half century if US forces and those of the Allies had to consider German nuclear strikes against the Normandy beachhead, Italian biological weapons at Anzio, or Japanese nerve gas blanketing US invasion forces at Iwo Jima.

    Faced with WMD bombardment, would the allies have been able to hold the Pusan beachhead or successfully mount the Inchon invasion during the Korean War? Indeed, would the US nuclear threat communicated to Beijing via the Indian govern- ment have been credible if the People's Republic of China also had possessed nuclear warheads and long-range aircraft in 1953? In the 1990-91 Gulf War, how would things have been different if Iraq had possessed even a few nuclear weapons and had been prepared to use them prior to the allied ground offensive while coalition troops were massing in Saudi Arabia?

    The Principle of Maneuver in Warfare

    Perhaps far greater emphasis will have to be placed on maneuver, the second "M" in J.F.C. Fuller's principles of war, rather than on the first "M," mass. Inherent in maneuver is the idea that mobility enhances both offensive and defensive capabilities as well as one's ability to achieve a viable deterrent and escalation superiority in both peace and war.

    Coupled with the need for maneuver is the concept of dispersion. Armies in modern times are increasingly mobile and dispersed due to increases in battlefield lethality and other technical changes. Moving and spreading out gives the adversary less probability of targeting success and less of a target to hit. Prudence would advise spreading friendly forces even more in the future to expose fewer of them to any single WMD attack.

    On the other hand, this need to disperse forces can greatly hinder conventional combat capability. An army dispersed will have less capability for achieving local superiority and breakthroughs against its opponents armed forces and less opportunity for battle and war termination until the main weapons of the enemy are silenced.

    The need to simultaneously guard against vulnerability to WMD attack and to conduct a conventional campaign will impose contradictory pressures on regional CINCs planning future campaigns. Such dual concerns might prevent quick, decisive engagements in the future that are based on the 1991 Gulf War model. Instead, future armies may be forced to fight more at the low-intensity warfare level or to engage in prolonged conventional wars of attrition while avoiding presenting the enemy with the opportunity for a knockout blow delivered by their WMD.

    Victorious armies facing NASTIs may be more preoccupied with active defense, passive defenses, mobility, dispersion, and concealment than with conventional offensive actions that could get them annihilated. Indeed, the lethality of the future battle area may be so great that a new vision of defensive deploy- ment is required while simultaneously adding new urgency to the locating, targeting, and destroying of enemy launchers and storage compounds for enemy weapons of mass destruction and the adversary's very advanced conventional weapons.

    The Principle of Offensive Initiative in Warfare

    One of the principles of war found in US military doctrine is the necessity to "seize, retain, and exploit the initiative" in combat. Maintaining the offensive initiative in warfare is important to victory, and also helps avoid defeat. An enemy on his heels is seldom an enemy at your throat. There is still some truth to the old adage that the best defense is a good offense. A good offense that keeps the adversary busy defending his own forces and homeland robs him of some of the potential to carry the fight to yours.

    Unfortunately, offensive operations under attack by enemy WMD, or the threat of such an attack, can be difficult to execute. US Army operations during its Combined Arms in a Nuclear/Chemical Environment (CANE) exercises have shown that enemy WMD very much hindered "Blue" forces' offensive success. As one report summarized, "during offensive operations, it was noted that:

    * attacks and engagements lasted longer;
    * fewer enemy forces were killed;
    * friendly forces suffered more casualties;
    * friendly forces fired fewer rounds at the enemy;
    * fratricide increased;
    * terrain was used less effectively for cover and concealment."

    Unfortunately, as two Army analysts point out, "the introduction of NBC weapons on the battlefield by an opponent gives him the initiative." Such actions, or even the threat of WMD strikes, place allied forces somewhat on the defensive and give the initiative to the opponent, since allied commanders and units are forced to take fewer risks in exposing themselves to such lethality.

    Enemy use of WMD can create residual radioactive, chemical, or biological contamination of the battle area, hindering allied ability to act for hours, days, or even weeks after their use. Protective clothing, exhaustive decontamination procedures, extensive vaccination programs, administration of antidotes, and the caution borne of fear in an anthrax, highly toxic chemical, or radioactive environment can easily degrade the offensive performance and mind-set of allied forces subject to WMD bombardment. Maneuver may also be limited in battle space so contaminated.

    US Army war games suggest that enemy WMD can negatively impact allied efforts to maintain the initiative, maneuver through the battlefield, synchronize forces, and project power into certain highly dangerous and contaminated areas. Moreover, while conducting offensive operations, allied forces faced with WMD threats will need to operate under a defensive shield to survive and succeed. Thus, in future wars against enemies armed with weapons of mass destruction, in contrast to General Fuller's day, it will be important to supplement offensive strikes to disarm the adversary's WMD with a combination of potent defenses to avoid lethal enemy preemptions or counterstrikes to degrade the threat.

    In the classic case, when dealing with a Saddam Hussein with WMD, the US military commander is faced with a dual need. First, he would like to neutralize both the enemy leadership and his WMD potential. This means the prosecution of counter-leader targeting coupled with an all-out bombardment of likely enemy WMD capabilities and production facilities. If this opening phase of the conflict is not totally successful, the allied operations should be prepared to shift dramatically from the offensive to the defensive mode, or take enormous risks that whole sectors of the allied forces might be destroyed if not dispersed into a defensive mode.

    Col John Warden, one of the air architects of the allied victory in the 1991 Gulf War, postulates that future war will feature parallel strikes aimed at all the key facets of an adversary's state and force, that, if struck nearly simultaneously, will inflict strategic paralysis and quick defeat on the adversary. Airpower, he argues, is the instrument of choice for such "parallel war."

    Such simultaneous, parallel strikes are a fine example of the value of retaining the offensive initiative in warfare, and the paralysis such strikes inflicted on Iraq in 1991 shows their value in keeping an adversary from taking the offensive himself. Simultaneous, parallel, in-depth attacks throughout the battle space is likely to remain as part of US military doctrine into the foreseeable future. For example, the US Army's "Force XXI Operations" study states:

    Future American operations will induce massive systemic shock to an enemy. These operations will be meant to force the loss or deny the enemy any opportunity to take the initiative.

    Similarly, US air doctrine emphasizes the use of new technologies such as stealth aircraft, stealthy cruise missiles, and precision guidance to give the advantages of surprise and offensive initiative to their possessor since these weapons are difficult to detect and allow airpower to go where it wishes without major losses in pursuit of strategic or tactical targets. Indeed, "aerospace power can quickly concentrate on or above any point on the earth's surface. Aerospace power can exploit the principles of mass and maneuver simultaneously to a far greater extent than surface forces."

    However, unless the initial offensive in such hyperwar and parallel war renders inoperable the enemy's ability to strike back with weapons of mass destruction or with his most capable advanced conventional weaponry, then the conflict may feature a parallel war air blitzkrieg coupled with the pullback and dispersal of allied ground and naval forces to provide less inviting targets to possible massive enemy counterattacks spearheaded by WMD targeted on US and allied power projection forces in the region.

    If total allied dominance of weapons of mass destruction is not achieved, the endgame of a conflict will be extremely risky. Will the enemy escalate at the end or will he be deterred from launching NBC fusillades as his regime goes under? Will he use some WMD and threaten more use still in an attempt to achieve a better end-war settlement?

    Or should allied forces keep out of range until such enemy WMD can be destroyed or until the enemy leadership is killed or replaced? If this is not possible, what then? It is possible that the better part of valor might be to accept a compromise peace that leaves the adversary regime and his military in place rather than demanding total surrender as required of Nazi Germany or Tojo's Japan in 1945. If this option is rejected, the allied side risks massive casualties, perhaps numbering in the millions, before victory could be achieved against a regional foe so heavily armed.

    As in the 1991 Gulf War, the location of the enemy leadership and his weapons of mass destruction may be unknown. There will be a temptation at the inception of any such conflict to target the enemy leader or leaders to create disorganization and a regime change. However, the closer such counter-leader strike attempts come to success without accomplishing the task, the greater the possibility that the enemy regime will counter with desperate measures that might include launching a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons attack, even if they face a clearly superior allied nuclear force that enjoys escalation dominance.

    How do you achieve victory or a measure of victory in regional combat with such an enemy, and how do you, at the same time, limit the damage inflicted on allied forces and allies in the region of operations? Further, how do you limit damage to the continental United States and allied countries during such regional conflicts?

    Until effective US and allied theater or strategic defenses are developed and deployed in the regions where foes developing or deploying WMD are located, efforts to counter such threats will have to rely upon deterrence of the adversary or on allied conventional offensive capabilities.

    While it would be the very rare contingency when the United States or allied states could successfully identify, locate, target, and destroy the force of a hostile radical state on the verge of using WMD against the American homeland, US and allied forces in the region, or allied countries, there may be a few opportunities where allied intelligence can pinpoint such preparations and strike a blow to disarm such an adversary with high confidence.

    Nor is it wise to use all the military potential the United States possesses, since the use of US nuclear arms to strike the enemy WMD targets would likely entail too many political, economic, diplomatic, legal, and moral negatives.

    In some cases, this imperative to use conventional weapons only, would make it impossible to disarm an adversary arming itself with WMD since conventional weapons may not be capable of:

    * destroying deeply buried and hardened bunkers containing WMD assets;
    * area targeting of widely dispersed but "soft" mobile enemy WMD assets;
    * burning enemy biological weapons ingredients that were otherwise likely to be spread across the region if impacted by conventional bombing.

    For these and a number of other reasons, reliance on conventional offenses alone to end the WMD threat would be unwise, because the penetration of allied defense by even a single enemy nuclear, biological, or chemical warhead might be lethal across a wide area. Theater missile defenses are also needed.

    Only the combination of offensive suppression strikes coupled with defensive interception capabilities could provide any possibility of the regional "astrodome" protection needed against such unforgiving weapons, where even a single enemy warhead "leaker" through the defenses could devastate a port, base, airfield, naval convoy, massed army, or population center.

    What makes the damage limitation enterprise even thinkable, once war has begun, is that the enemy may possess only a half dozen or so of such weapons at the time of a conflict, few enough so that it is possible for an allied offense-defense combination to neutralize the threat.
    The Principle of Unity of Command in Warfare

    Another principle of war laid out by Gen J. F. C. Fuller is that of the requirement for unity of command. Maintaining good command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) could become much easier in future MRCs as a result of the ongoing revolution in information technology available to allied commanders. This information revolution will provide more information earlier, and in far greater detail about the opponent's capabilities, locations, and activities than known in previous wars.

    Moreover, such a communications revolution will lead to flatter organization structures and to greater force-wide awareness of allied and enemy dispositions in real time. This will enhance the control of central commanders while, at the same time, permitting wider dispersal of friendly forces. The US Army's "Force XXI Operations" report states that

    advances in information management and distribution will facilitate the horizontal integration of the battlefield functions and aid commanders in tailoring forces and arranging them on land.... Units, key nodes, and leaders will be more widely dispersed leading to the continuation of the empty battlefield phenomenon.

    The challenge to effective command, control, and communica- tions in a major regional conflict could be immense. If the adversary has the capability of decapitating the US or allied military commands, of decapitating regional allied govern- ments, of targeting the US National Command Authority, or of "leveling the playing field" by knocking out most allied communications with a high-altitude nuclear explosion emitting a destructive electromagnetic pulse (EMP), it could destroy the unity of command of the allied forces in the region.

    If the regional adversary was at a severe disadvantage in NBC weapons, he might still make effective use of his limited capability by atmospheric nuclear bursts of EMP that could play havoc with allied telecommunications, navigation, radar, aircraft, missiles, automated guns, APCs, tanks, trucks, and any microchips or electrical circuits that are not protected against EMP.

    The enemy WMD threat might even extend beyond the theater of war to the capitals of allied countries, including even Washington, D.C. It may be possible that the adversary has aircraft or missiles capable of reaching such capitals. Even if this was not technically possible, it is conceivable that nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons could be delivered against such cities by unconventional means via saboteurs smuggling them in the allied countries and detonating them or threatening to do so to achieve favorable diplomatic concessions at the end of the conflict.

    Unfortunately, most allied capitals are highly vulnerable to WMD threats. For example, Washington, D.C., has long been a vulnerable target and will remain so in the foreseeable future. A clandestine nuclear detonation in the city would likely doom the US president, the vice president, Cabinet members, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and members of Congress who were there at the time. The chaos that such an attack would cause would be difficult to overstate. One of the more difficult questions to answer in the hours after such a NASTI decapitation attack would be "who is in charge here?"

    This chaos would be compounded if the headquarters housing the US regional CINC and his staff also were to suffer a similar decapitation strike at the same time. It is possible that the national leadership and the regional military forces of the United States would be plunged into chaos for sometime.

    The threat of communication disruption and command disable- ment in conflicts with NASTIs leads to several conclusions regarding the preservation of unity of command in such conflicts:

    * Command unity may have to give way to subcommand dispersal under a preset unified contingency plan;
    * Military units may need to be more autonomous and dependent on prewar planning of operations;
    * Unit commanders will need simpler, less frequent updates from central headquarters;
    * Alternative commanders in mobile and hardened com- mand posts will be needed for all regional and supporting CINCs, with trained backups in reserve several layers deep, ready to assume command if and when the CINCs are targeted, killed, or isolated from their forces;
    * Military forces may have to be guided and organized similarly to distributed computer networks, with greater autonomy, independence of action, and ability to operate independent of central command while still following command guidelines.

    The Principle of Clear Obtainable Objectives in Warfare

    Wars, like chess matches, are generally characterized by opening moves, both offensive and defensive, by a middle game exchange, and by a decisive endgame. Central and theater commanders should begin each phase of the conflict with the desired end in mind, with each phase designed to move the situation forward toward the goal. The United States Army Field Manual FM 100-5 states that commanders ought to "direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective."

    In the Persian Gulf, President Bush defined the US and allied objective simply as the freeing of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation and the establishment of agreed borders between Iraq and Kuwait. Once beaten in the field of battle, the regime of Saddam Hussein was allowed to remain in power, although restrictions were placed upon Iraqi military units, UN inspectors were sent into Iraq to locate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as well as its ballistic missiles for the purpose of destroying them. Iraq was prohibited from most international trade or exports, and was especially limited from profiting from oil exports until it was deemed to be in full com- pliance with peace terms negotiated at the end of the Gulf War.

    President Bush's decision to stop the fighting when he did was controversial. Many thought he should have directed US and allied forces to proceed on to Baghdad when he had the Iraqi military on the run and in chaos, continuing the conflict so long as Saddam Hussein and his cabinet controlled the Iraqi government and military forces.

    It has been argued that President Bush's decision was made in line with the principle of war that says to direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. First, the decision to end the conflict once Iraqi troops were expelled from Kuwait was a clearly defined objective. The war aim, as agreed at the United Nations when the allied coalition was formed, was not to occupy Iraq, replace the present Iraqi government, or govern Iraq during a transition period to another regime.

    President Bush complied with the United Nations resolutions authorizing the collective security action and the limited goals embraced by the whole US-led coalition. To go further might have led to a split in the coalition and would have been on uncertain legal grounds.

    Second, despite the US decision to halt Desert Storm operations short of a ground occupation of Iraq, the campaign was, nevertheless, decisive in securing the liberation of Kuwait and in inflicting a decisive defeat and surrender of all Iraqi forces stationed outside of Iraq's borders.

    Third, President Bush's objective in the Gulf conflict was quite attainable. Not only was Kuwait liberated, but, after three years, the Iraqi parliament has finally agreed to drop claims to Kuwaiti territory and recognize the borders of Kuwait as legitimate.

    President Bush's decision to keep to such clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objectives was determined by the calculation that to go further and invade Iraq would have gone beyond the UN resolutions authorizing the collective action. Such action, it was thought, would endanger the support of coalition partners needed to legitimize the subsequent peace arrangements and whose support the United States would need to guard its interests in future dealings in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Further, President Bush and his advisers understood the difficulties of conquering Iraq, locating and capturing Saddam Hussein and his subordinate leaders, subduing the remnants of the Iraqi military throughout a country larger than Germany, and governing a hostile population of almost 20 million while seeking to set up a friendly regime.

    The Bush administration was also eager to avoid further bloodshed, having just won the victory in Kuwait at a human cost well below what had been predicted for the ground campaign (150 US dead as opposed to predictions that ranged up to 15,000). President Bush and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney saw entry into Iraq as a quagmire to be avoided and ended the fighting while the allies were well ahead and had attained their immediate stated goals.

    Realpolitik may also have been a factor in the United States's decision to stop when it did. Prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the United States had been more concerned with containing Iranian power rather than Iraqi power in the region. After all, it was Iran under the ayatollahs who seized American hostages at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, and who was seen as the chief exporter of anti-American sentiments, and who was seen as the chief exporters of terror worldwide. The fact that Iraq, if totally disarmed by the allied coalition, could not offset the expansionist ambitions of Iran was still another argument for not entering Iraq and totally dismantling its military power in 1991.

    Finally, it is likely that President Bush and his political advisors also wished to reap the political fruits of an almost total victory in Kuwait as opposed to entering the political minefield of an invasion, extended military campaign, and occupation of Iraq. By stopping when he did, President Bush received an unprecedented 93 percent approval rating in polls of the American public in the aftermath of the war.

    The decisive victory, stopped at its apex, also sent an unchallenged message around the world about US military prowess and American willingness to act decisively against aggression when it felt its vital interests were at stake. This enhanced US reputation in the world could be used to deter other would-be aggressors in places like North Korea, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere. US credibility had never been higher since the end of World War II, a recovery from the years following the Vietnam War.

    Given these arguments in support of President Bush's decision to follow limited war aims in 1991, there is still controversy over whether stopping short of Baghdad was an act of wisdom or short-sightedness. Some believe that the allies should have finished the regime of Saddam Hussein when they had the opportunity to act decisively against him. Time has shown that he has a remarkable ability to survive politically in Iraq, and Iraq has been able to reconstitute much of its conventional military capability even under the terms of the truce. Moreover, Iraq retains the scientific base, foreign supplier contacts, potential wealth from its oil reserves, and ambitions for future great-power status.

    Once UN sanctions are lifted on Iraq, many believe that country will be back in the WMD business full-scale. Indeed, resurrection of its biological weapons stockpile should be simple since the allies never found it and therefore did not destroy it. Iraq is given two years of full scale effort before it could be at 1991 levels again in its nuclear weapons research, and less than a decade after that before it could join the nuclear weapons club.

    Indeed, not to have deposed Saddam Hussein, when the chance presented itself, may be to have defined the US and UN objective too narrowly at the onset of the Gulf conflict since it is arguable whether the US and allied limited actions achieved a lasting end to the Iraqi threat or merely postponed the confrontation with an Iraq armed with NBC weapons and the missiles to deliver them on target.

    The symptoms were treated and their effects mitigated, but the disease persists that could be lethal next time to US interests and allies in the Gulf region. One evidence of Saddam's persistent malevolence was the Iraqi-sponsored attempt to kill former President Bush on his visit to Kuwait in 1993. Leaving such an opponent alive and in power is like allowing a rattlesnake to continue to live in your house after it has attempted to kill you once, because you have temporarily milked it of its venom, even though you know it will inevitably produce more in time.

    Permitting Saddam Hussein to remain in power to continue to threaten his neighbors and US interests in the region, by stopping at the Iraq-Kuwait border, is analogous to having allowed Adolph Hitler to remain in control of Germany in 1945 because the Allies decided to stop at Germany's borders once German armies had been expelled from the lands that they occupied from 1939-1945.

    Given the track record of Iraq, a state that has been at war with its neighbors since its inception, and of Saddam Hussein, whose regime has constantly used murderous violence against its opponents inside Iraq and aggressive war against its neighbors since he took power, there is a high likelihood that the Gulf War will have to be repeated in the future, perhaps against an even more dangerous enemy.

    To conclude, as former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger once advised, "if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives. And we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives." This is a useful guideline, even if it does not precisely tell you what to do and where to draw the line on your prewar and postwar aspirations.
    The Principle of Security in Warfare

    Good security means the enemy cannot achieve strategic surprise. Such good security increasingly depends on accurate and timely intelligence information to assess the threat and give timely warning of it in an era when hostile and radical opponents are about to acquire the most destructive of weapons.

    It has become increasingly difficult to predict the progress of nonnuclear states as they approach obtaining an operational WMD capability. Most of these regimes find it neither in their political, economic, nor military interests to advertise their progress or capabilities.

    The international legal norm established by the NPT carries pledges by the nuclear weapon states that they will not attack nonnuclear signatories of the pact and that they will be subject to sanctions if they violate that pledge. Aspiring proliferators might hide behind their signatures on the NPT to gain legal protection against intervention, particularly if the evidence of their developing WMD is ambiguous.

    Declared proliferators may also suffer unilateral cutoffs and sanctions by triggering national legislation on the books in the United States and among other states. These laws enforcing international norms prohibiting proliferation also prescribe various penalties for states that break from the ranks. Witness the Pressler Amendment and the trade penalties inflicted on Pakistan as a result of its nuclear weapons program.

    Moreover, as Saddam Hussein learned in June 1981 when his Osirak reactor was destroyed by Israeli warplanes, it does not pay to develop WMD in high-profile, easily targeted facilities. Instead, armed with great wealth from his oil revenues, Saddam from 1981-1991 was able to move very close to a nuclear weapons capability following a clandestine approach. This model is the more likely one for aspirant states to follow, namely:

    * Pursuing multiple technical paths to NBC weapons;
    * Disguising and hiding WMD facilities, some underground;
    * Providing disinformation about WMD activities/locations;
    * Joining the NPT as a ruse while clandestinely cheating;
    * Using third parties to purchase WMD production technology;
    * Purchasing dual-use technologies allegedly for another purpose;
    * Producing indigenously as many components of WMD as possible;
    * Getting prospective contractors to fill gaps in WMD knowledge through the bid and proposal process, sometimes not letting the contract afterwards;
    * Buying as much WMD technology and resources on the open market as possible from contractors all too ready to help in return for substantial profits;
    * Hiring foreign NBC/missile expertise where local expertise is lacking; and
    * Purchasing WMD technology subcomponents, rather than components, and assembling them inside their country to reduce the audit trail.

    Like the proverbial iceberg, just the tips of the North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs are visible, and they probably indicate a much larger clandestine program operating out of sight.

    The rate of progress may be accelerated by the possibility of transfers of scientific knowledge, highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium (PL), weapons designs, missiles, and nuclear technology from the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, which have a surplus of underpaid nuclear scientists and technicians, hundreds of tons of HEU and PL, tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, a need for hard currency, and an expanding criminal element with some access to the widespread nuclear facilities of the former superpower.

    According to US military doctrine, the United States should

    never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. Security enhances freedom of action by reducing friendly vulnerability to hostile acts, influence or surprise . . . . Thorough knowledge and understanding of enemy strategy, tactics, and doctrine and detailed staff planning can improve security and reduce vulnerability to surprise.

    Vulnerability to surprise and attack can be reduced by a combination of offensive and defensive measures. Security can be maintained by a mix that includes:

    * Keeping allied escalation dominance to deter enemy escalation to first use of WMD;
    * Allied counterforce strikes to destroy or reduce enemy WMD assets;
    * Allied active defenses to intercept enemy missile or aircraft attacks;
    * Use of passive defenses to protect friendly forces from the effects of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon attacks;
    * Any other measures designed to present less lucrative targets to enemy WMD such as dispersion, mobility, maintaining forces outside of enemy missile or aircraft ranges, and introducing supply and reinforcement means that are less vulnerable to NBC strikes.

    No single approach may neutralize the WMD threat, but taken in combination, these measures may greatly reduce the vulnerability of friendly forces to NASTI surprises.

    Improved allied capabilities to remotely detect adversary nuclear, biological, chemical and missile assets on the ground or en route to target, would also enhance security and help avoid rude and devastating surprises by the enemy.

    The Principle of Economy of Force in Warfare

    Another principle of war set out in US military doctrine is to "allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts." In other words, it is recommended that the US commander should concentrate the majority of his military power toward a clearly defined primary threat rather than compromise the effort against secondary priorities. This principle of war is based on the premise that the CINC will not have unlimited resources and must accept some calculated risks in secondary areas of importance in order to achieve superiority in the priority area where the battle or conflict may be decided.

    On the grand strategic level, the United States has adopted a strategy of preparing to fight two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts at the same time. Clearly, utilizing the prin- ciple of economy of force, the United States would need to hold in reserve enough force for a second MRC once the first one begins.

    The principle of "economy of force" also would serve as a guide to cutting back on secondary US military participation such as in on-going UN peace operations in other regions--so long as US forces are engaged in one or more major regional conflicts, or lack the military power to predominate in both.

    The principle of economy of force must be applied with a caveat when an enemy is equipped with WMD. The allied commander must avoid having his main thrust trumped by the employment of enemy mass destruction weapons. Therefore, while resources must be focused on the decisive weak points in adversary forces and plans, they must simultaneously be adequately protected by maintaining intrawar escalation dominance, and their employment prefaced by an air campaign designed to substantially eliminate an enemy WDM capability.

    The main ground thrust against enemy forces must be adequately protected by concentrating active and passive defense assets on behalf of the main effort. Dispersion and continued mobility of key force elements, combined with rapid supply and reinforcements from diverse logistics pathways, all done with dispatch, air cover, and secure and clandestine movements of troops, equipment, and supplies, will help preserve the element of tactical surprise and disguise where the main effort will be made.

    As US Army and Air Force doctrine states, "economy of force missions may require the forces employed to attack, to defend, to delay, or to conduct deception operations."

    The Principle of Surprise in Warfare

    US military doctrine teaches that commanders must attempt to "strike the enemy in a time or place, or in a manner, for which he is unprepared." Surprise can affect the outcome of battles, campaigns, or even entire wars. Surprise can be achieved by speed of attack and maneuver, taking unanticipated actions, using deception, varying the tactics used from those previously employed, maintaining operations security, gaining good intelligence and insights into enemy thinking and doctrine, and applying new technologies in ways that reduce enemy warning time, provide capabilities he does not anticipate, or contribute to his confusion.

    In the realm of new technologies to achieve surprise, note the importance of stealth F-117 fighter-bombers in striking key targets in the 1991 Gulf War and the use of precision- guided cruise missiles with very small radar cross-sections. One of the architects of the US air campaign in the 1991 Persian Gulf War has written that

    for the first time in the history of warfare, a single entity can produce its own mass and surprise . . . . Surprise has always been one of the most important factors in war--perhaps even the single most important because it could make up for the deficiencies in numbers. Surprise was always difficult to achieve because it conflicted with the concepts of mass and concentration. In order to have enough forces available to hurl enough projectiles to win the probability contest, the commander had to assemble and move large numbers. Of course, assembling and moving large forces in secret was quite difficult, even in the days before aerial reconnaissance, so the odds of surprising the enemy were small indeed. Stealth and precision have solved both sides of the problem; by definition, stealth achieves surprise, and precision means that a single weapon accomplishes what thousands were unlikely to accomplish in the past.

    Until the NASTI regimes acquire radars or other sensors capable of detecting and targeting incoming stealth aircraft and cruise missiles, the United States and its allies have a means of achieving tactical surprise in any air strike or any cruise missile launch. The ability to strike "out of the blue" without warning, provided by the B-2, F-117s, future F-22s, and stealthy cruise missiles is limited only by how successfully US and allied intelligence can identify and locate significant enemy targets, and by the availability of stealth aircraft or cruise missiles.

    Technological surprise can also decide battles when one side first employs a decisive new military technology which puts the adversary at an unanticipated disadvantage. One of the most dramatic illustrations of this was the decisive role of British radars in helping the Royal Air Force win the Battle of Britain against the German Luffwaffe. Although greatly outnumbered in aircraft, the British were able to pinpoint the directions and numbers of German aircraft as they took off in France and flew across the English Channel toward Britain. Armed with this knowledge, British Spitfires waited high in the clouds in ambush and concentrated superior forces in the air battles they chose to fight. The result was a British victory where bean counters would have predicted defeat. Radar was the biggest difference in the two sides.

    The Principle of Simplicity in Warfare

    US Army commanders are taught to prepare "clear, uncom- plicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding." Simplicity of operational concepts and goals should reduce misunderstandings of orders, reduce confusion, and enhance the understanding of key audiences whose support is necessary to conduct the war.

    This simplicity of operation should be applied to all phases of combat; during the opening phase of operations, in the main campaign, and in the war-termination phase. The war plan should be a continuation of politics by other means, keeping in mind the national ends for which the conflict was begun, constantly relating national ends to ongoing military means, and understanding the unique limits on war termination imposed by the stark fact that the adversary possesses weapons whose destructive magnitude exceeds anything previously faced by other US commanders in previous conflicts.

    Of course, simplicity and clarity of goals, plans, and orders alone do not guarantee a correct strategy or successful operation against a heavily armed regional enemy. A CINC could choose a clear, simple plan based on tried-and-true principles, but find that it would not work in a future MRC where the adversary was equipped with radically different capabilities well beyond those possessed by enemies in the past.

    Armed with WMD, such adversaries might follow an escalatory strategy that could shatter the cohesiveness of an allied coalition, could scare off potential allies, might inflict a political defeat on the coalition by dissolving allied domestic support for the war, or even cripple an allied expeditionary force by turning NBC and missile assets against allied forces, ports, air bases, logistical tail, or allied capitals in the region. In such a campaign, a NASTI attack might conceivably inflict in a single day allied war deaths in excess of what the United States suffered in Korea, Vietnam, or even in World War II.

    The right operational plan will be essential against NASTIs on the field of battle. Clarity and simplicity added to a sound approach contribute to success. Of course, if added to a flawed concept of operations, clarity and simplicity cannot avert defeat.

    Additional Principles of War against Enemies with WMD

    Military experience and recent technical innovations have spawned some additional principles of warfare to add to the list supplied by General Fuller in World War I. These new operating principles, when combined with the original MOSSCOMES principles of war may supply the decisive edge against radical hostile regimes armed with WMD.

    These new principles can be summarized by the acronym SLIP:

    S-Simultaneity and Depth of Attack


    I-Information Dominance

    P-Precision Targeting
    Simultaneity and Depth of Attack

    When battling a NASTI, it is best to strike fast and simul- taneously at all key enemy assets to stun and paralyze his forces to defeat them in the shortest time possible. Simultaneous strikes throughout the entire battlespace may be enough to rob him of much or all of his WMD capability, and reduce his offensive potential.

    As the US Army Training and Doctrine Command states in its concept of operations for the early twenty-first century, "The relationship between fire and maneuver may undergo a transformation as armies with high technology place increasing emphasis on simultaneous strikes throughout the battle space. Maneuver forces may be massed for shorter periods of time."

    Army doctrine also notes that "depth and simultaneous attack may be a key characteristic of future American military operations. These operations will redefine the current ideas of deep, close, and rear." Indeed, such parallel war or hyperwar strikes blur the distinction between the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of operations and tend to blend them into one.

    Recent effectiveness of simultaneous operations conducted across the full length, breadth, and height of the battle space have led to quick victories in Grenada, Panama, and the Gulf. Desert Storm, for example, showed that "deep battle has advanced beyond the concept of attacking the enemy's follow-on forces in a sequential approach to shape the close battle to one of simultaneous attack to stun, then rapidly defeat the enemy."

    Colonel John Warden III, one of the architects of the air campaign that defeated Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, suggests that near-simultaneous parallel warfare strikes against key enemy leadership, system essentials, infrastructure, population centers, and fielded military forces may impose strategic or operational paralysis on him, leading to his rapid defeat.

    Warden notes the impact of the fast-paced US parallel air strikes on the 1991 defeat of Iraq:

    In Iraq, a country about the same size as prewar Germany, so many key facilities suffered so much damage so quickly that it was simply not possible to make strategically meaningful repair. Nor was it possible or very useful to concentrate defenses; successful defense of one target merely meant that one out of over a hundred didn't get hit at that particular time. Like the thousand cuts analogy, it just doesn't matter very much if some of the cuts are deflected. It is important to note that Iraq was a very tough country strategically. Iraq had spent an enormous amount of money and energy on giving itself lots of protection and redundancy and its efforts would have paid off well if it had been attacked serially as it had every right to anticipate it would. In other words, the parallel attack against Iraq was against what may well have been the country best prepared in all the world for attack. If it worked there, it will probably work elsewhere.

    Thus, the experience of the 1991 Gulf War is that parallel warfare can be decisive since regional adversaries are likely to have a relatively small number of vital strategic targets, estimated by Colonel Warden at "in the neighborhood of a few hundred with the average of perhaps 10 aimpoints per vital target." These enemy assets "tend to be small (in number), very expensive, have few backups, and are hard to repair. If a significant percentage of them are struck in parallel, the damage becomes insuperable."

    Of course, there may be counter-measures that an adversary might take to offset the possibilities of simultaneous allied air strikes across the battlespace of a major regional conflict. Efforts might be taken to (1) disguise, diversify and "demassify" the key political-military-economic assets to make them less lucrative targets, (2) hide, harden, or put on mobile launchers, WMD assets to reduce their vulnerability, (3) employ WMD against allied bases from which parallel attacks are being launched, (4) attack allied C4I and employ various forms of "info war" to confuse, disorganize, and mislead allied commanders and "psychological warfare" to reduce allied morale and influence the publics of the United States and its allies to undermine political support for the war.


    When drafting the original list of principles of war, General Fuller failed to identify the overwhelming importance of effective logistics to the support of fighting forces as they mobilize, deploy, maneuver, reconstitute, withdraw, and demobilize. Without proper logistics it would be impossible to man, arm, fuel, fix, move, or sustain the soldier, sailor, or airman and their equipment as they enter and fight major regional conflicts. As one US Army general has put it, "Forget logistics and you lose." On more than 230 occasions, US forces have been sent to other countries and regions of the world in the twentieth century alone. Logistics gets them there, sustains them, and gets them home again.

    Increasingly, logistics will play an important part in whether US and allied forces get to the battle in time and whether they will predominate when they arrive. This is especially true now that fewer US troops are stationed abroad while still responsible for standing ready to win two near-simultaneous major regional conflicts (MRCs) and participating in a number of military operations other than war (MOOTW) as well.

    MRCs and MOOTWs both require a force-projection logistical system that has "the demonstrated ability to rapidly alert, mobilize, deploy and operate anywhere in the world." As a recent analysis of the US Army in the Gulf War notes, logistics units do more than sustain forces in the field. Indeed, "the strength of the logistics engine determines the pace at which an intervening force makes itself secure."

    One student of that conflict has observed:

    The Iraqi Army stood by and watched on television as the American Army assembled a sophisticated combat force in front of them with efficiency and dispatch. The act of building the logistics infrastructure during Desert Shield created an atmosphere of domination and a sense of inevitable defeat among the Iraqis long before the shooting war began. In the new style of war, superior logistics becomes the engine that allows American military forces to reach an enemy from all points of the globe and arrive ready to fight. Speed of closure and buildup naturally increases the psychological stature of the deploying force and reduces the risk of destruction to those forces that deploy first. In contrast, dribbling forces into a theater by air or sea raises the risk of defeat in detail.

    A successful buildup of US and allied forces and supplies at the inception of a major regional conflict could, in turn, depend upon the early deployment of an effective multilayered air and missile defense and air superiority over the battle zone. As Col Warden has warned, surface forces and logistical support units are fragile at the operational level of war, especially against highly armed challengers.

    Supporting significant numbers of surface forces (air, land, or sea) is a tough administrative problem even in peacetime. Success depends upon efficient distribution of information, fuel, food, and ammunition. By necessity, efficient distribution depends on an inverted pyramid of distribution. Supplies of all operational commodities must be accumulated in one or two locations, then parsed out to two or four locations, and so on until they eventually reach the user. The nodes in the system are exceptionally vulnerable to precision attack.

    In short, while the United States and its allies may be able to handle a NASTI regime such as Iraq in 1991, in the future it may be dealing with adversaries that have mastered the building of accurate ballistic missiles, nuclear warheads, chemically armed reentry vehicles, and relatively cheap, hard-to-detect cruise missiles. At that point, MRC forces and their logistics tails had better reduce their vulnerabilities by application of deterrence, preemptive strikes, defenses, deployment outside of enemy range, dispersion of units, constant mobility, or diversity of supply paths in order to avoid defeat.

    Information Dominance

    The importance of winning the information war should be a guiding principle of wars of the future. A US Army study predicts that "effective information operations will make battlespace transparent to us and opaque to our opponents." Such, at least, is the goal.

    One of the air commanders of the Gulf War also emphasizes the importance of information at the strategic and operational levels. He notes that

    In the Gulf War, the coalition deprived Iraq of most of its ability to gather and use information. At the same time, the coalition managed its own information requirements acceptably, even though it was organized in the same way Frederick the Great had organized himself. Clear for the future is the requirement to redesign our organizations so they are built to exploit modern information-handling equipment. This also means flattening organizations, eliminating most middle management, pushing decision making to very low levels, and forming worldwide neural networks to capitalize on the ability of units in and out of the direct conflict area.

    The information lesson from the Gulf was negative; the coalition succeeded in breaking Iraq's ability to process information, but the coalition failed to fill the void by providing Iraqis with an alternative source of information. Failure to do so made Saddam's job much easier and greatly reduced the chance of his overthrow. Capturing and exploiting the datasphere may well be the most important effort in many future wars.

    Precision Targeting

    Another principle of war flowing from technical innovations is the dominance imparted by using precision guided weapons. Suddenly, with great precision, nearly all important fixed targets can be destroyed in a campaign. Instead of having to fire thousands of bombs and missiles at targets, just a few will do the job today with much greater certainty than the imprecise massed attacks of yesterday.

    Now "one bomb, one target destroyed" is more the norm instead of "hundreds of bombs, perhaps few or no targets destroyed." This helps in planning a successful campaign and in executing it. MRC logistics are simplified since a finite number of precision weapons can now be used to destroy a set <%1>of targets rather than the massive quantities of "dumb" weapons that would otherwise be needed to accomplish the same mission.

    The combined advantages of stealth technology and precision guided missiles can be seen by comparing a conventional bombing attack in the 1991 Gulf War, against the same target, the Baghdad Nuclear Research Center, with a stealthy precision attack two days later. The conventional air attack failed to destroy the target even though it used 32 bomb-dropping aircraft, 16 fighter escorts, 12 aircraft for suppression of Iraqi air defenses, and 15 tanker aircraft. Two days later, this target was successfully destroyed using just eight F-117 stealth fighter-bombers supported by just two tankers.


    There are many other principles of war that might be formulated to apply to different kinds of engagements. For example, war against a NASTI is far different from participating in military operations other than war such as UN peace operations. Further, low-intensity counterguerrilla warfare is prosecuted differently than more conventional battle, as fought in the 1991 Gulf War, and both might be fought differently in future wars.

    One scholar has listed over one hundred principles of war that have been advocated by military thinkers since the time of Sun Tzu. Indeed, in 1984 US Air Force doctrine recommended four guidelines (timing, tempo, logistics, and cohesion) in addition to Fuller's original list of nine principles of war. Some in the recent past have argued for the inclusion of the concept of deterrence as a separate principle of conflict management.

    A review of the principles of war that pertain to a future conflict with an enemy equipped with advanced conventional arms and mass destruction weapons can provide a better understanding of how to operate on the future battlefield. However, such a set of principles are not infallible guides to action. They cannot substitute for judgment, improvisation, insights into the enemy, or initiative. Nor can they be applied by rote or as part of a checklist.

    Understanding of these principles can add to the commander's understanding of how to conduct warfare, and a review of them can remind him of fundamentals to observe, but such application of these principles by themselves is not sufficient for victory. For one thing they are somewhat abstract and require judgment in application to specific cases.

    In the end, the commander and his subordinates still must bring a depth of experience, concrete mastery of details, and an understanding of military affairs that reaches well beyond such general principles. Nevertheless, these principles of war can be useful ways to think about how to solve the problem facing a commander whose force is opposed by a NASTI.

    This should be something interesting for the military personnel and military enthusiasts to comment upon, given that many have active combat service and could share their experience of how the Principles of War have been applied or have been found wanting or requires to be deleted from the teaching.

    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.


  2. #2
    Military Enthusiast Senior Contributor
    Join Date
    15 Aug 03
    To make this short, I can see one enduring principle in the entire history of mankind.

    "Whoever sees the enemy first and remains hidden will control the outcome of the battle."

    This applies to any type of campaign-sea battle, ship to ship, submarine to ship, ssubmarine to submarine, plane to ground, plane to plane, ground to plane, tank to tank, guerrilla to force, etc.

  3. #3
    Senior Contributor
    Join Date
    19 Aug 04

    Where to begin!

    First things first: Thank you for the time and trouble.

    "High Ground" doctrine is a Yank fav.

    I assume you chaps will fogive any seemingly curt prose forthwith as a function of brevity

    As above, so below. Air power cannot achieve more than limmited ground denail. Obital platforms can. Before those of you with field experience roll y'eyes and assume that there is an extra G&T in my petrol tank I beg indulgence.

    A vast ammount of $ has been spent on essentially redundant airbourne platforms over the past forty odd years. You know my feelings re:stealth.

    An obital strike capability is the clinical "shlock and whore"

    Such would only (yes, yes, I know) be part of the "hands off" approach - seeking to replace shock with fire - if the power in q. ie. US actually renegs on its Faustian pact with the USAF.

    It appears to these dim eyes that the solution may be the mid term deployment of telerobotic sci-fi armour. Yes I am taking the piss out of myself but utterly serious.

    Absent from the zone of control I truly believe that the crude gismos we see currently will mature into an honestly effective bit of force projection. Please note tele-robotics as distinct from autononmous do-dahs.

    Precisce obital strikes combined with, frankly, fantasy tanks or better, will, like it or not eventually improve the lot of the chap on the ground to that of liason or mop up. I hope that the armed chap in thirty years will be one hundred miles from the monster he controls as well as having the ability to use fewer clauses in one sentence than I am seemingly capable of.

    Spec. Ops. and intel in this little future will, naturally, never go out of fashion.
    Where's the bloody gin? An army marches on its liver, not its ruddy stomach.

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