chapter  3
34 Pages

The American strategic approach: A functional analysis

In the future, the network will be the single most important contributor to combat power.

(Arthur L. Money, US Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence), 2001)218

[N]ations make war the same way they make wealth. (VADM Arthur Cebrowski (USN) and John Garstka, 1998)219

At the cusp of a new millennium, the United States stands superior to any and all other nations in terms of her overall political, economic, and military capabilities. Having emerged from the Cold War the sole remaining superpower (or, as some have suggested, “hyperpower”220), the United States in the first decade of the twenty-first century faces no threat of direct military challenge by a peercompetitor, or nation-state of equal fortitude. Nor is America expected to encounter such an opponent in the near future, although the list of states that may soon rise to near-peer status may easily be narrowed to a handful of contestants.221 In the absence of such a threat, and with little political or economic justification for maintaining its Cold War-derived force posture, the US government set about restructuring America’s military. The specifications for that effort derived from what were the perceived requirements of the new international security environment – characteristics of which included diminishing tensions between the former East-West power blocs, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or effect (WMD/E)222 and their delivery systems, and the diffusion of military power to non-state actors. Indeed, while the problems posed by the potential emergence of a peer-or near-peer-competitor are enduring, the strategic challenges emanating from non-state actors (so-called “asymmetric” or “niche” challengers), as well as from smaller states, are of great concern to the United States – particularly in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks upon America.223 It was in this context that America adopted its postCold War, post-9/11 strategic vision – one that reflected a common belief that the United States no longer faced the prospect of having to fight and win two major wars being prosecuted in distinct geographic theatres (particularly in

Europe and Asia) in overlapping timeframes. The American strategic approach was further driven by the notion that future warfare would be highly technological, and that America could maintain her strategic position only by transforming her fighting forces ahead of her competitors. This belief stemmed from rapid advancements in the military-technical sphere – upon which America has wasted little time capitalising.