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Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance
Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade
L.A. "Bud" Edney, Fred M. Franks, Charles A. Horner, Jonathan T. Howe, and Keith Brendley
NDU Press Book December 1996
Foreword Prologue Introduction to Rapid Dominance
Chapter 1. Background and Basis Chapter 2. Shock and Awe Chapter 3. Strategic, Policy, and Operational Application Chapter 4. An Outline for System Innovation and Technological Integration Chapter 5. Future Directions
Appendices — Reflections of Three Former Commanders Appendix A. "Thoughts on Rapid Dominance" by Admiral Bud Edney Appendix B. "Defense Alternatives: Forces Required" by General Chuck Horner Appendix C. "Enduring Realities and Rapid Dominance" by General Fred Franks
Biographies of the Study Group Members
We are in the early stages of what promises to be an extended debate about the future of conflict and the future of our defense establishment. Few will deny that the winds of change are blowing as never before, driven by a radically altered geopolitical situation, an evolving information-oriented society, advancing technology, and budgetary constraints. How our nation responds to the challenge of change will determine our ability to shape the future and defend ourselves against 21st century threats. The major issue, however it may be manifested, involves the degree of change that is required. Advocates, all along the spectrum from a military technical revolution to a revolution in military affairs to a revolution in security affairs, are making their cases. Military institutions are by their very nature somewhat conservative. History has shown that success has often sown the seeds of future failure. We as a nation can ill afford to follow in the footsteps of those who have rested on their laurels and failed to stretch their imaginations.
Often, those who are the most knowledgeable and experienced about a subject are not in the most advantageous position to understand a new world order. Yet these same individuals are often among the most credible voices and therefore are essential to progress. The authors of Shock and Awe are a highly accomplished and distinguished group with the credibility that comes from years of front line experience. Thus, this work is important not only because of the ideas contained within, but because of the caliber and credibility of the authors.
ACTIS seeks to articulate and explore advanced concepts. In sponsoring this work and in disseminating its initial results, we hope to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about alternatives, their promises, and their risks. As the authors note, this is a work in progress meant not to provide definitive solutions but a proposed perspective for considering future security needs and strategies. To the extent that vigorous debate ensues we will be successful.
David S. Alberts Washington, D.C. October 1996
The purpose of this paper is to explore alternative concepts for structuring mission capability packages (MCPs) around which future U. S. military forces might be configured. From the very outset of this study group's deliberations, we agreed that the most useful contribution we could make would be to attempt to reach beyond what we saw as the current and commendable efforts, largely but not entirely within the Department of Defense, to define concepts for strategy, doctrine, operations, and force structure to deal with a highly uncertain future. In approaching this endeavor, we fully recognized the inherent and actual limits and difficulties in attempting to reach beyond what may prove to be the full extent of our grasp.
It is, of course, clear that U.S. military forces are currently the most capable in the world and are likely to remain so for a long time to come. Why then, many will ask, should we examine and even propose major excursions and changes if the country occupies this position of military superiority? For reasons noted in this study, we believe that excursions are important if only to confirm the validity of current defense approaches. There are several overrarching realities that have led us to this conclusion. First, while everyone recognizes that the Cold War has ended, there is not a consensus about what this means for more precisely defining the nature of our future security needs. Despite this absence of both clairvoyance and a galvanizing external danger, the United States is actively examining new strategic options and choices. The variety of conceptual efforts underway in the Pentagon to deal with this uncertainty exemplifies this reality.
At the same time, the current dominance and superiority of American military power, unencumbered by the danger of an external peer competitor, have created a period of strategic advantage during which we have the luxury of time, perhaps measured in many years, to re-examine with a margin of safety our defense posture. On the other hand, potential adversaries cannot be expected to ignore this predominant military capability of the United States and fail to try to exploit, bypass, or counter it. In other words, faced with American military superiority in ships, tanks, aircraft, weapons and, most importantly, in competent fighting personnel, potential adversaries may try to change the terms of future conflict and make as irrelevant as possible these current U.S. advantages. We proceed at our own risk if we dismiss this possibility.
Second, it is relatively clear that current U.S. military capability will shrink. Despite the pledges of the two major American political parties to maintain or expand the current level of defense capability, both the force structure and defense infrastructure are too large to be maintained at even the present levels and within the defense budgets that are likely to be approved. Unless a new menace materializes, defense is headed for "less of the same." Such reductions may have no strategic consequences. However, that is an outcome that we believe should not be left to chance.
This shrinkage also means that the Pentagon's good faith strategic reviews aimed at dealing with our future security needs may be caught up in the defense budget debate over downsizing and could too easily drift into becoming advocacy or marketing documents. As the services are forced into more jealously guarding a declining force structure, the tendency to "stove-pipe" and compartmentalize technology and special programs is likely to increase, thereby complicating the problem of making full use of our extraordinary technological resources. This means that some external thinking, removed from the bureaucratic pressures and demands, may be essential to stimulating and sustaining innovation.
Third, the American commercial-industrial base is undergoing profound change propelled largely by the entrepreneurial nature of the free enterprise system and the American personality. Whether in information or materials-related technology or for that matter in other areas too numerous to count, the nature of competition is driving both product breadth and improvement at rates perhaps unthinkable a decade ago. One sign of these trends is the reality that virtually all new jobs in this country are being created by small business. In the areas of commercial information and related management information systems, these changes are extraordinary and were probably unpredictable even a few years ago.
On the so-called information highway, performance is increasing dramatically and quickly while price, cost, and the time to bring to market new generation technology are diminishing. These positive trends are not matched yet in the defense-industrial base. One consequence of this broad commercial transformation is that any future set of defense choices may be inexorably linked to and dependent on this profound, ongoing change in the commercial sector and in learning to harness private sector advances in technology-related products. It must also be understood that only the United States among all states and nations has the vastness and breadth of resources and commercial capability to undertake the full exploitation of this revolutionary potential.
Finally, it is clear that U.S. forces are engaged and deployed worldwide, often at operating tempos as high as or higher than during the Cold War. These demands will continue and the diversity of assigned tasks is unlikely to contract. These forces must be properly manned, equipped, and trained and must carry out their missions to standards that are both high and expected by the nation's leaders and its public. The matter of maintaining this capability while attempting to reshape the force for a changing future is a major and daunting challenge not to be underestimated.
These structural realities are exciting and offer a major opportunity for real revolution and change if we are able and daring enough to exploit them. This, in turn, has led us to develop the concept of Rapid Dominance and its attendant focus on Shock and Awe. Rapid Dominance seeks to integrate these multifaceted realities and facts and apply them to the common defense at a time when uncertainty about the future is perhaps one of the few givens. We believe the principles and ideas underlying this concept are sufficiently compelling and different enough from current American defense doctrine encapsulated by "overwhelming or decisive force," "dominant battlefield awareness," and "dominant maneuver" to warrant closer examination.
Since before Sun Tzu and the earliest chroniclers of war recorded their observations, strategists and generals have been tantalized and confounded by the elusive goal of destroying the adversary's will to resist before, during, and after battle. Today, we believe that an unusual opportunity exists to determine whether or not this long-sought strategic goal of affecting the will, understanding, and perception of an adversary can be brought closer to fruition. Even if this task cannot be accomplished, we believe that, at the very minimum, such an effort will enhance and improve the ability of our military forces to carry out their missions more successfully through identifying and reinforcing particular points of leverage in the conflict and by identifying and creating additional options and choices for employing our forces more effectively.
Perhaps for the first time in years, the confluence of strategy, technology, and the genuine quest for innovation has the potential for revolutionary change. We envisage Rapid Dominance as the possible military expression, vanguard, and extension of this potential for revolutionary change. The strategic centers of gravity on which Rapid Dominance concentrates, modified by the uniquely American ability to integrate all this, are these junctures of strategy, technology, and innovation which are focused on the goal of affecting and shaping the will of the adversary. The goal of Rapid Dominance will be to destroy or so confound the will to resist that an adversary will have no alternative except to accept our strategic aims and military objectives. To achieve this outcome, Rapid Dominance must control the operational environment and through that dominance, control what the adversary perceives, understands, and knows, as well as control or regulate what is not perceived, understood, or known.
In Rapid Dominance, it is an absolutely necessary and vital condition to be able to defeat, disarm, or neutralize an adversary's military power. We still must maintain the capacity for the physical and forceful occupation of territory should there prove to be no alternative to deploying sufficient numbers of personnel and equipment on the ground to accomplish that objective. Should this goal of applying our resources to controlling, affecting, and breaking the will of an adversary to resist remain elusive, we believe that Rapid Dominance can still provide a variety of options and choices for dealing with the operational demands of war and conflict.
To affect the will of the adversary, Rapid Dominance will apply a variety of approaches and techniques to achieve the necessary level of Shock and Awe at the appropriate strategic and military leverage points. This means that psychological and intangible, as well as physical and concrete effects beyond the destruction of enemy forces and supporting military infrastructure, will have to be achieved. It is in this broader and deeper strategic application that Rapid Dominance perhaps most fundamentally differentiates itself from current doctrine and offers revolutionary application.
Flowing from the primary concentration on affecting the adversary's will to resist through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe to achieve strategic aims and military objectives, four characteristics emerge that will define the Rapid Dominance military force. These are noted and discussed in later chapters. The four characteristics are near total or absolute knowledge and understanding of self, adversary, and environment; rapidity and timeliness in application; operational brilliance in execution; and (near) total control and signature management of the entire operational environment.
Whereas decisive force is inherently capabilities driven-that is, it focuses on defeating the military capability of an adversary and therefore tends to be scenario sensitive-Rapid Dominance would seek to be more universal in application through the overriding objective of affecting the adversary's will beyond the boundaries traditionally defined by military capability alone. In other words, where decisive force is likely to be most relevant is against conventional military capabilities that can be overwhelmed by American (and allied) military superiority. In conflict or crisis conditions that depart from this idealized scenario, the superior nature of our forces is assumed to be sufficiently broad to prevail. Rapid Dominance would not make this distinction in either theory or in practice.
We note for the record that should a Rapid Dominance force actually be fielded with the requisite operational capabilities, this force would be neither a silver bullet nor a panacea and certainly not an antidote or preventative for a major policy blunder, miscalculation, or mistake. It should also be fully appreciated that situations will exist in which Rapid Dominance (or any other doctrine) may not work or apply because of political, strategic, or other limiting factors.
We realize some will criticize our focus on affecting an adversary's will, perception, and understanding through Shock and Awe on the grounds that this idea is not new and that such an outcome may not be physically achievable or politically desirable. On the first point, we believe the use of basic principles of strategy can stand us in good stead even and perhaps especially in the modern era when adversaries may not elect to fight the United States along traditional or expected lines. On whether this ability can and should be achieved, we believe that question should be part of a broader examination.
Finally, we argue that what is also new in this approach is the way in which we attempt to integrate far more broadly strategy, technology, and innovation to achieve Shock and Awe. It is this interaction and focus which we think will provide the most interesting results.
For these and other reasons, we have embarked on an ambitious intellectual excursion in making a preliminary definition of Rapid Dominance. For the moment, we view Rapid Dominance in the formation stage and not as a final product. Over the next months, we believe further steps should be taken to refine Rapid Dominance and to develop "paper" systems and force designs that will add crucial specificity to this concept. Then, this Rapid Dominance force can be assessed against five sets of questions:
- First, assuming that a Rapid Dominance force can be fielded with the appropriate capabilities of Shock and Awe to affect and shape the adversary's will, how would this force compare with and improve on our ability to fight, win, and deal with a major regional contingency (MRC)? - Second, what utility, if any, does Rapid Dominance and its application of Shock and Awe imply for Operations Other Than War (OOTW)? Where might Rapid Dominance apply in OOTW, where would it not, and where might it offer mixed benefits? - Third, what are the political implications of Rapid Dominance in both broad and specific applications and could this lead to a form of political deterrence to underwrite future U.S. policy? Would this political deterrence prove acceptable to allies and to our own public? - Fourth, what might Rapid Dominance mean for alliances, coalitions, and the conduct of allied and combined operations? - Finally, what are the consequences of Rapid Dominance on defense resource investment priorities and future budgets?
From this examination and experimentation, we believe useful results will flow.
We also would like to acknowledge the support and role of the National Defense University in sponsoring this first effort. In particular, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. David Alberts of NDU whose intelligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom, as well as his full support, have been invaluable and without which this project would have been far less productive.
1 September 1996
L.A. Edney J.T. Howe F.M. Franks H.K. Ullman C. A. Horner J.P. Wade
Introduction to Rapid Dominance
The military posture and capability of the United States of America are, today, dominant. Simply put, there is no external adversary in the world that can successfully challenge the extraordinary power of the American military in either regional conflict or in "conventional" war as we know it once the United States makes the commitment to take whatever action may be needed. To be sure, the first phase of a crisis may be the most difficult-if an aggressor has attacked and U.S. forces are not in place. However, it will still be years, if not decades, before potential adversaries will be able to deploy systems with a full panoply of capabilities that are equivalent to or better than the aggregate strength of the ships, aircraft, armored vehicles, and weapons systems in our inventory. Even if an adversary could deploy similar systems, then matching and overcoming the superb training and preparation of American service personnel would still be a daunting task.
Given this reality that our military dominance can and will extend for some considerable time to come, provided we are prepared to use it, why then is a re-examination of American defense posture and doctrine important? The answers to this question involve (1) the changing nature of the domestic and international environments; (2) the complex nature of resolving inter and intra-state conflict that falls outside conventional war, including peacekeeping, and countering terrorism, crime, and the use of weapons of mass destruction; (3) resource constraints; (4) defense infrastructure and technical industrial bases raised on a large, continuous infusion of funding now facing a future of austerity; and (5) the vast uncertainties of the so-called social, economic, and information revolutions that could check or counter many of the nation's assumptions as well as public support currently underwriting defense.
It is clear that these so-called grey areas involving non-traditional Operations Other Than War (OOTW) and law enforcement tasks are growing and pose difficult problems and challenges to American military forces, especially when and where the use of force may be inappropriate or simply may not work. The expansion of the role of UN forces to nation-building in Somalia and its subsequent failure comes to mind as an example of this danger. It is also arguable that the formidable nature and huge technological lead of American military capability could induce an adversary to move to a strategy that attempted to circumvent all this fighting power through other clever or agile means. The Vietnam War is a grim reminder of the political nature of conflict and how our power was once outflanked. Training, morale, and readiness to fight are perishable commodities requiring both a generous expenditure of resources and careful nurturing.
Thus, the greatest constraints today to retaining the most dominant military force in the world, paradoxically, may be in overcoming the inertia of this success. We may be our own worst enemy.
During the Cold War when the danger was clear, the defense debate was often fought over how to balance the so-called "strategy-force structure-budget" formula. Today, that formula has expanded to include "threat, strategy, force structure, budget, and infrastructure." Without a "clear and present danger" such as the Axis Powers in 1941 or, later, the Soviet Union to coalesce public agreement on the threat, it is difficult to construct a supporting strategy that can be effective either in setting priorities or objectives. Hence, today's "two war" or two nearly simultaneous Major Regional Contingency (MRC) strategy has been criticized as strategically and financially excessive. As noted by administration officials, the current force structure does not meet the demands of the "two war," MRC strategy and, in any event, the budget will not support the planned force structure. Finally, it is widely recognized that the United States possesses far more infrastructure such as bases and facilities than it needs to support the current force, thereby draining scarce resources away from fighting power. As a result, there is a substantial defense imbalance that will erode fighting power.
In designing its defense posture, the United States has adopted the doctrine of employing "decisive or overwhelming force." This doctrine reinforces American advantages in strategic mobility, prepositioning, technology, training, and in fielding integrated military systems to provide and retain superiority, and responds to the minimum casualty and collateral damage criteria set first in the Reagan Administration. The Revolution in Military Affairs or RMA is cited as the phenomenon or process by which the United States continues to exploit technology to maintain this decisive force advantage, particularly in terms of achieving "dominant battlefield awareness." Through this awareness, 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.
Before proceeding further, an example is useful to focus some of the as yet unknowable consequences of these broader realities, changes, and trends. The deployment of American forces to Bosnia is a reaction to and representation of major shifts occurring in the post-Cold War world. With these shifts, this deployment is suggestive of what may lie ahead for the use, relevance, and design of military force. The legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then, the start of the Cold War, caused the West to adopt policies for containing and deterring the broad threat posed by the Soviet Union and its ideology. Thermonuclear weapons, complemented over time by strong conventional forces, threatened societal damage to Russia. Conventional forces backed by tactical nuclear weapons were later required, in part, to halt a massive Soviet ground attack in Europe and, in part, to provide an alternative to (immediate) use of nuclear weapons.
Today, the First Armored Division, the principal American unit serving in Bosnia is, in essence, the same force that fought so well in Desert Storm and, for the bulk of the Cold War along with our other units, had been designed to defend NATO against and then defeat a numerically superior, armored and mechanized Soviet adversary advancing across the plains of Germany. Now these troops, as well as others from both sides of the former Iron Curtain, are engaged in OOTW for which special training, rules of engagement, command arrangements, and other support structures have been put in place at short notice, few of which were even envisaged a few years ago. These are also operations that, because of intense, instantaneous media coverage, can have huge domestic political impact especially if events go wrong.
Whether or not this armored division is the most optimally configured force for such an operation is not relevant for the moment even though this unit probably was the most appropriate for this task. However, it is prudent to examine the consequences of changing tasks presaged by Bosnia, in which the enemy is instability rather than an ideological or regional adversary we are trying to contain or defeat and neutrality on our part may be vital to the success of the mission. Do these changes mean that we should alter our traditional approach to the doctrine for and design of forces? If so, how? Are there alternative or more effective ways and means to conduct these peacekeeping-related operations? And, in this evaluation, are there alternative doctrines we should consider to fight wars more effectively as we envisage scenarios under the construct of the MRC?
With the end of the USSR and absent a hostile Russian superpower, there is no external threat to the existence or survival of the United States as a nation and there will not be such an immediate threat for some time to come. This means that there is a finite window of opportunity when there is no external adversary threatening the total existence of American society; that our forces are far superior to any possible military adversary choosing to confront us directly; and that, with innovative thought, we may be able to create a more relevant, effective, and efficient means to ensure for the common defense at the likely levels of future spending.
At the same time that the Bosnia operation is underway, the fundamental changes occurring at home and abroad must be addressed. The industrial and technical base of the United States is changing profoundly. The entrepreneurial and technical advantages of the American economy were never greater and it is small business that is creating virtually all new jobs and employment opportunities. Commercial technology and products are turning over on ever shortening cycles. Performance, especially in high-technology products, is improving and costs are being driven downwards.
Sadly, the opposite trends are still found in the defense sector, where cost is high and will create even tougher choices among competing programs, especially as the budget shrinks. Cycle time to field new generation capabilities is lengthening and performance, especially in computer and information systems, is often obsolete on delivery. The defense industrial base will continue to compress and it is not clear that the necessary level of efficiencies or increases in effectiveness in using this base can be identified and implemented, suggesting further pressures on a defense budget that is only likely to be cut.
Indeed, the question must be carefully examined of whether the military platforms that served us so well in both cold and hot wars such as tanks, fixed wing aircraft, and large surface ships and submarines represent the most effective mix of numbers, technology, strategic mobility, and fighting capability. Our national preference for "attrition" and "force on forces" warfare continues to shape the way we design and rationalize our military capability. Therefore, it is no surprise that in dealing with the MRC, American doctrine, in some ways, remains an extension of Cold War force planning. While the magnitude and number of dangerous threats to the nation have been remarkably reduced by the demise of the USSR, we continue to use technology to fill traditional missions better rather than to identify or produce new and more effective solutions for achieving military and strategic/political objectives.
While there is much talk about "military revolutions" and winning the "information war," what is generally meant in this lexicon and discussion is translated into defense programs that relate to accessing and "fusing" information across command, control, intelligence, surveillance, target identification, and precision strike technologies. What is most exciting among these revolutions is the potential to achieve "dominant battlefield awareness," that is, achieving the capability to have near-perfect knowledge and information of the battlefield while depriving the adversary of that capacity and producing "systems of systems" for this purpose.
The near and mid-term aims of these "revolutions" largely remain directed at exploiting our advantages in firepower and on fielding more effective ways of defeating an adversary's weapons systems and infrastructure for using those systems. The doctrine of "decisive or overwhelming force" is the conceptual and operational underpinning for winning the next war based largely on this force-on-force and attrition model, and winning the information war is vital to this end. Few have asked whether the pattern of employing more modern technology for traditional firepower solutions is the best one and if there are alternative ways to achieve military objectives more effectively and efficiently. In other words, can the idea of dominant battlefield awareness be expanded doctrinally, operationally, and in terms of fixing on alternative military, political, or strategic objectives?
Rapid Dominance, if realized as defined in this paper, would advance the military revolution to new levels and possibly new dimensions. Rapid Dominance extends across the entire "threat, strategy, force structure, budget, infrastructure" formula with broad implications for how we provide for the future common defense. Organization and management of defense and defense resources should not be excluded from this examination although, in this paper, they are not discussed in detail.
The aim of Rapid Dominance is to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary to fit or respond to our strategic policy ends through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe. Clearly, the traditional military aim of destroying, defeating, or neutralizing the adversary's military capability is a fundamental and necessary component of Rapid Dominance. Our intent, however, is to field a range of capabilities to induce sufficient Shock and Awe to render the adversary impotent. This means that physical and psychological effects must be obtained.
Rapid Dominance would therefore provide the ability to control, on an immediate basis, the entire region of operational interest and the environment, broadly defined, in and around that area of interest. Beyond achieving decisive force and dominant battlefield awareness, we envisage Rapid Dominance producing a capability that can more effectively and efficiently achieve the stated political or military objectives underwriting the use of force by rendering the adversary completely impotent.
In Rapid Dominance, "rapid" means the ability to move quickly before an adversary can react. This notion of rapidity applies throughout the spectrum of combat from pre-conflict deployment to all stages of battle and conflict resolution.
"Dominance" means the ability to affect and dominate an adversary's will both physically and psychologically. Physical dominance includes the ability to destroy, disarm, disrupt, neutralize, and to render impotent. 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. The principal mechanism for achieving this dominance is through imposing sufficient conditions of "Shock and Awe" on the adversary to convince or compel it to accept our strategic aims and military objectives. Clearly, deception, confusion, misinformation, and disinformation, perhaps in massive amounts, must be employed.
The key objective of Rapid Dominance is to impose this overwhelming level of Shock and Awe against an adversary on an immediate or sufficiently timely basis to paralyze its will to carry on. In crude terms, Rapid Dominance would seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary's perceptions and understanding of events that the enemy would be incapable of resistance at tactical and strategic levels. An adversary would be rendered totally impotent and vulnerable to our actions. To the degree that non-lethal weaponry is useful, it would be incorporated in the ability to Shock and Awe and achieve Rapid Dominance.
Theoretically, the magnitude of Shock and Awe Rapid Dominance seeks to impose (in extreme cases) is the non-nuclear equivalent of the impact that the atomic weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on the Japanese. The Japanese were prepared for suicidal resistance until both nuclear bombs were used. The impact of those weapons was sufficient to transform both the mindset of the average Japanese citizen and the outlook of the leadership through this condition of Shock and Awe. The Japanese simply could not comprehend the destructive power carried by a single airplane. This incomprehension produced a state of awe.
We believe that, in a parallel manner, revolutionary potential in combining new doctrine and existing technology can produce systems capable of yielding this level of Shock and Awe. In most or many cases, this Shock and Awe may not necessitate imposing the full destruction of either nuclear weapons or advanced conventional technologies but must be underwritten by the ability to do so.
Achieving Rapid Dominance by virtue of applying Shock and Awe at the appropriate level or levels is the next step in the evolution of a doctrine for replacing or complementing overwhelming force. By way of comparison, we have summarized how we view the differences between the doctrines of Rapid Dominance and Decisive Force in terms of basic elements that apply to the objectives, uses of force, force size, scope, speed, casualties, and technique. We recognize that there will be debate over the relative utility and applicability of these doctrines and readers are encouraged to participate.
In considering the differences between the concepts of Rapid Dominance and Decisive Force, it is important to define the terms as precisely as possible.
The goals of achieving Rapid Dominance using Shock and Awe must be compared with overwhelming force. "Rapid" implies the ability to "own" the dimension of time-moving more quickly than an opponent, operating within his decision cycle, and resolving conflict favorably in a short period of time. "Dominance" means the ability to control a situation totally.
Rapid Dominance must be all-encompassing. It will require the means to anticipate and to counter all opposing moves. It will involve the capability to deny an opponent things of critical value, and to convey the unmistakable message that unconditional compliance is the only available recourse. It will imply more than the direct application of force. It will mean the ability to control the environment and to master all levels of an opponent's activities to affect will, perception, and understanding. This could include means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure as well as the denial of military responses. Deception, misinformation, and disinformation are key components in this assault on the will and understanding of the opponent.
Total mastery achieved at extraordinary speed and across tactical, strategic, and political levels will destroy the will to resist. With Rapid Dominance, the goal is to use our power with such compellance that even the strongest of wills will be awed. Rapid Dominance will strive to achieve a dominance that is so complete and victory is so swift, that an adversary's losses in both manpower and material could be relatively light, and yet the message is so unmistakable that resistance would be seen as futile.
"Decisive Force," on the other hand, implies delivering massive enough force to prevail. Decisive means using force with plenty of margin for error. Force implies a traditional "force-on-force" and attrition approach. This concept does not exclude psychological and other complementary damage imposition techniques to enhance the application of force; they have been used throughout the history of warfare. But such non-destructive means would have an ancillary role. Military force would be applied in a purer form and targeted primarily against the military capabilities of an opponent. Time is not always an essential component. As in Desert Shield/Storm, enough time would have to be allowed to assemble an overwhelming force. Such a luxury is not always feasible.
The differences become clearer if broken down into their essential elements:
Elements Rapid Dominance Decisive Force ————————————————————————————————————— Objective Control the adversary's will, Prevail militarily and perceptions, and understanding decisively against a set of opposing capabilities defined by the MRC
Use of Control the adversary's will, Unquestioned ability to Force perceptions, and understanding prevail militarily over an and literally make an adversary opponent's forces and based impotent to act or react against the adversary's capabilities
Force Size Could be smaller than Large, highly trained, and opposition, but with decisive well-equipped. Materially edge in technology, training, overwhelming and technique
Scope All encompassing Force against force (and supporting capability)
Speed Essential Desirable
Casualties Could be relatively few in Potentially higher on both number on both sides sides
Technique Paralyze, shock, unnerve, deny, Systematic destruction of destroy military capability. applicable in some situations
Four general categories of core characteristics and capabilities have been identified that Rapid Dominance-configured mission capability packages must embrace. These are identified briefly and discussed in later chapters.
First, Rapid Dominance seeks to maximize */knowledge/* of the environment, of the adversary, and of our own forces on political, strategic, economic, and military/operational levels. On one hand, we want to get into the minds of the adversary far more deeply than we have in the past. Beyond operational intelligence required for battlefield awareness, Rapid Dominance means cultural understanding of the adversary in ways that will affect both ours and their planning and the outcome of the operation at all appropriate tactical and strategic levels.
Second, Rapid Dominance must achieve */rapidity/* in the sense of timeliness. Rapid Dominance must have capabilities that can be applied swiftly and relatively faster than an adversary's.
Third, Rapid Dominance seeks to achieve total */control of the environment/* from complete "signature management" of both our and the adversary's information and intelligence to more discrete means to deceive, disguise, and misinform.
Fourth, Rapid Dominance aims to achieve new levels of operational competence that can virtually institutionalize */"brilliance."/* In some cases, this may mean changing the longstanding principle of military centralization and empowering individual soldiers, sailors, and airmen to be crucial components in applying and directing the application of force.
As we move to turn this concept into specific doctrine and capabilities for future evaluation, there is another emerging reality to consider. If the commercial-economic sector is transforming at the current rate and breadth, it could be that, over the course of many years, the defense industrial base would follow suit, or face irrelevance and extinction. Clearly, there are certain areas in defense which will never or may never be eliminated or replaced. Nuclear systems are a current example.
Should this trend of commercial dominance play out, it may mean that military force design and procurement will become dependent on the private sector and commercial technology. Rapid Dominance is a first conceptual step to deal with this possibility.
The purpose of this paper is to outline the beginnings of the concept of Rapid Dominance, its concentration on strategy, technology and innovation, and its focus on Shock and Awe. Based on this, subsequent steps will involve expanding mission capability packages concepts consisting of operations harmonized with doctrine, organization, and systems and then move on to field prototype systems for further test and evaluation as advanced concept technology demonstrations.
Background and Basis
In both relative and absolute terms, since the end of World War II, the military strength and capability of the United States have never been greater. Yet this condition of virtual military superiority has created a paradox. Absent a massive threat or massive security challenge, it is not clear that this military advantage can (always) be translated into concrete political terms that advance American interests. Nor is it clear that the current structure and foundations for this extraordinary force can be sustained for the long term without either spending more money or imposing major changes to this structure that may exceed the capacity of our system to accommodate. As a consequence, the success of the current design and configuration of our forces may ironically become self-limiting and constraining. That is not to claim automatically that there are better military solutions or that the current defense program is not the best our political system can produce. It is to say, however, that we are well-advised to pursue alternate ideas and concepts to balance and measure against the current and planned program.
To stimulate and intrigue the reader, we note at the outset that one thrust of Rapid Dominance is to expand on the doctrine of overwhelming or decisive force in both depth and breadth. To push the conceptual envelope, we ask two sets of broad questions: Can a Rapid Dominance force lead, for example, to a force structure that can win an MRC such as Desert Shield and Desert Storm far more quickly and cheaply with far fewer personnel than our planned force both in terms of stopping any invasion in its tracks and then ejecting the invader? Can Rapid Dominance produce a force structure with more effective capacity to deal with grey areas such as OOTW?
Second, if achievable, can Rapid Dominance lead to a form of political deterrence in which the capacity to make impotent or "shut down" an adversary can actually control behavior? What are the possible political implications of this capability and what would this power mean for conducting coalition war and for how our allies react and respond?
Because Rapid Dominance is aimed at influencing the will, perception, and understanding of an adversary rather than simply destroying military capability, this focus must cause us to consider the broadest spectrum of behavior, ours and theirs, and across all aspects of war including intelligence, training, education, doctrine, industrial capacity, and how we organize and manage defense.
We observe at first that even with the successful ending of the Cold War, the response of the United States in re-evaluating its national security and defense has been relatively and understandably modest and cautious. In essence, while the size of the force has been reduced from Cold War levels of 2.2 million active duty troops to about 1.5 million, and the services have been vocal in revising doctrine and strategy to reflect the end of the Soviet threat, with the exception of emphasis on jointness, there are few really fundamental differences in the design and structure of the forces from even 10 or 15 years ago.
Throughout the Cold War, the defense of the United States rested on several central and widely accepted and publicly supported propositions. The "clear and apparent danger" of the Soviet threat was real and seen as such. The USSR was to be contained and deterred from hostile action by a combination of political, strategic, and military actions ranging from the forging of a ring of alliances surrounding the USSR and its allies to the deployment of tens of thousands of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.
Following the truce ending the Korean War, a large, standing military force was maintained and defined by the operational requirements of fighting the large formations of military forces of the USSR and its allies with similar types of military forces, albeit outnumbered. The role of allies, principally NATO, was assumed and taken into account in planning, although the paradox of the issue of planning for a long versus short war in a nuclear world remained unresolved.
Mobilization, as in World War II, was likewise assumed if the Cold War went hot while, at the same time, it was hoped that any war might be ended quickly. The largely World War II defense, industrial, and basing structure was retained along with the intent to rely on our technological superiority to offset numerical or geographical liabilities.
It was not by accident that this Cold War concept of defense through mobilization was similar to the strategy that won the Second World War and the literal ability of ultimately overwhelming the enemy using the massive application of force, technology, and associated firepower. Two decades later, Vietnam exposed the frailty of this approach of dependence on massive application of firepower especially when political limits were placed on applying that firepower.
Currently, Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 have been taken as the examples that confirm the validity of the doctrine of overwhelming or decisive force and of ensuring that both strategic objectives and tactical methods were in congruence. We argue that now is the time to re-examine these premises of reliance on overwhelming or decisive force as currently employed and deployed in the force structure if only as a prudent check.
Beyond prudence, however, it is clear that without a major threat to generate consensus and to rally the country around defense and defense spending, the military posture of the United States will erode as the defense budget is cut. Hence, relying in the future on what is currently seen to be as sufficient force to be "decisive" could easily prove unachievable and the results problematic or worse for U.S. policy.
The absence of a direct and daunting external security threat is, of course, a most obvious aspect of the difficulty in defining the future defense posture of the nation. The United States has long resisted maintaining a large standing military and the Cold War years could prove an aberration to that history. Extending this historical observation of small standing forces, it is clear that there is no adversary on the horizon even remotely approaching the military power of the former USSR. While we might conjure up nominal regional contingencies against Korea or Iraq as sensible planning scenarios for establishing the building blocks for force structure, it will prove difficult to sustain the current defense program over the long term without a real threat materializing to rally and coalesce public support. Allocating three percent or less of GDP for defense could easily prove to be a ceiling and not a floor. It should be noted that in Europe, defense spending is closing in on 1 to 2 percent of GDP.
Ironically, as the Department of Defense seeks to come to grips with this new world, the structural limitations and constraints in how we develop systems and procure weapons based on current technological and industrial capacity for producing them will be exacerbated by downward fiscal pressure giving us little room for mistakes and flexibility. Air, land, space, and sea forces are currently limited in the actual numbers and types of systems that are available for purchase and more limited in that there are virtually no new major systems on the horizon. That could change.
The M-1A-1 tank is in production only for foreign sales. Despite the allure of the Arsenal Ship, the Navy still has only four active classes of warships from which to replace its capability and, for the first time this century since aircraft entered the inventory, is without a new aircraft in development. The Air Force can be placed in similar straits if the F-22 program is deferred or canceled because of rising cost and fiscal constraints. Time will tell what happens to the Joint Strike Fighter. Assumptions about reliance on technology and R&D providing insurance policies for future defense needs may prove ill-advised if and as DOD is forced to cut back and reduce those programs even further. Indeed, over time, commercial R&D could become the main source for procuring software and other systems needed to upgrade today's weapons systems and for so-called "leap-ahead" technologies that may prove elusive to create.
There is also the crucial issue of revising or indeed developing new doctrine and military thought to deal with these changing circumstances. But, without a compelling rationale and with the clear bureaucratic and political pressures of preparing and defending an annual budget, more of the same (or more likely, less of the same) becomes an almost irresistible outcome. While the JCS or OSD or CINCs may have genuine need for jointly packaged forces that are rapidly deployable irrespective of Army, Navy, Marine, or Air Force labels, the services cannot be expected to reverse the years of viewing the world through service- specific arguments and doctrine.
Although the absolute danger has been dramatically reduced with the end of the USSR, it would be the height of folly to assume that there are no risks to the nation nor an absence of evil-doers wishing this nation harm. It would also be shortsighted to expect that potential adversaries are unintelligent and would not rely on superior knowledge of their environment and simplicity to overcome our current military and technical superiority much as the North Vietnamese did. In addition, as technology diffuses around, over, and under borders, our assumptions about guarantees of permanent technological superiority should welcome thoughtful examination.
Lenin asked the question, "what is to be done?" As a start, the United States should act to exploit the several major advantages it possesses. First, we have time. The clarity and danger of future threats is sufficiently removed for us to take a longer view. While we may have deferred adding to the inventory of future systems in development, current systems possess more than enough military capability to get us through this transition period, even if this period were to last for more than a decade. This does not mean we can rest on our oars; if we take advantage of this opportunity, time is on our side. If we squander this opportunity, then we could ultimately find ourselves in trouble.
Second, the combination of American technical know-how, the luxury of the best technically educated and trained society in the world, and the entrepreneurial spirit of our system offers vast potential if we are clever enough to exploit this extraordinary resource.
Third, because of significant changes in law and organization regarding the military, particularly the Goldwater-Nichols Act, and through a willingness to examine alternatives, the Department of Defense has actively sought new ideas and concepts. The enhanced role of the CINCs and the acceptance of jointness are positive illustrations. Yet, for understandable structural and political realities noted above, assuring productive innovation continues will not be automatic. Against these conducive signs, vision, true joint thinking, and tactical advances still are premium commodities to be nourished and encouraged.
In building an alternative intellectual concept, it is useful to rely on successful lessons of the past. For five decades, we have been successful in applying containment and deterrence in the Cold War. When deterrence or diplomacy failed as in Kuwait, then the use of force was inevitable. A first-order issue is how can we augment or improve the use of existing military capability should it be required.
Should force be needed, our proposal calls for establishing a regime of Rapid Dominance throughout the area of strategic as well as operational concern. By Rapid Dominance, we are seeking the capability to dominate, control, and isolate the entire environment in, around, over, and under the objective area as quickly as possible, and with fewer forces than currently envisaged, although direct insertion of forces is an important component depending upon the tactical situation. In many cases, this capacity need not be the traditional firepower solution of only physically destroying an adversary's military capabilities. Our focus is on the Clausewitzian principle of affecting the adversary's will to resist as the first order of business, quickly if not nearly instantaneously. A second goal would be to stop an attack during the first stages. A third goal, should it be achievable, would be to promote a regime of political deterrence that might restrain aggression in the first place.
To accomplish the rendering an adversary incapable of action means neutralizing the ability to command; to provide logistics; to organize society; and to function; as well as to control, regulate and deny the adversary of information, intelligence, and understanding of what is and what is not happening. This means we must control all necessary intelligence and information on our forces-the ultimate form of stealth-and on an adversary's forces as well and then exploit total situational awareness for rapid action.
Regarding the emergence of current military thought and doctrine, as implied earlier, warfare today may be in the early and far less mature stages of a major revolution than is generally assumed. It is understandable that despite major strategic reassessments, current doctrine is still highly influenced by Cold War tactics and strategy and perhaps by the iron grip of the history of conflict since the early 19th century.
Since Napoleon, the conduct of war between major states has been largely dominated by combining industrial might with vast amounts of manpower over time and space. The United States advanced Napoleon's use of industry and mass armies in the Civil War and our planning up to the Cold War tended to follow this same pattern. World War II, of course, exemplified the triumph of this industrial, mobilization, and massive use of force approach.
In the evolution of U.S. military theory, it can be argued that this model combining massive industrial might and manpower finally ended in 1989. Although, by then, technological advances to conventional military capabilities seemed to be approaching the destructive power, or more precisely, the system lethality of nuclear weapons. In other words, modern non-nuclear precision weapons perhaps could produce effects against enemy targets roughly comparable to the military lethality of theater-level nuclear weapons. If this condition proves true, could this new lethality fundamentally change the construct for designing American doctrine and strategy? This question is at the heart of the "precision and battlefield awareness" school of decisive force thinking that believes that this fundamental change is in place.
Since the end of the Cold War and, with it, the end of the need to prepare our forces to fight a more or less equally powerful adversary, the United States military has conducted two post-Cold War crises against lesser adversaries quite differently than it fought the Cold War. In the Panama intervention in 1990 and in Kuwait shortly thereafter, the suggestion of newer and different methods of warfare was present. Perhaps both will turn out to be transition campaigns, where there is much of the old, but also signs of the new. But there are specific pieces of evidence that should command our attention.
Underlying the planning for Operation Just Cause in Panama and Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait was the premeditated incorporation of a series of rapid, simultaneous attacks designed to apply decisive force. The aim was to stun, and then rapidly defeat the enemy through a series of carefully orchestrated land, sea, air, and special operating forces strikes that took place nearly simultaneously across a wide battle space and against many military targets. The purpose of these rapid, simultaneous attacks was to produce immediate paralysis of both the national state and its armed forces that would lead to prompt neutralization and capitulation.
In both Just Cause and Desert Storm, the United States (plus coalition forces in Desert Storm) had such overwhelming military capabilities that, in retrospect, the outcome was largely a matter of drafting a cogent and coordinated operation plan based on using the entire system of capabilities, and then executing that plan to produce a decisive victory. The Haitian incursion in 1995 used similar principles of intimidation to eliminate any real fighting. However, in Desert Storm unlike Haiti, it took the U.S. and its allies nearly 6 months to deploy over a half million troops before the fighting began.
The recently published JCS Pub 3.0 and the U.S. Army's 525-5 Pamphlet reflect and exploit operational rapidity and simultaneity. Yet, progress in these operational directions may be in danger of faltering if only old Cold War yardsticks are used to make future force investments and to direct studies about future force structure and associated infrastructure. As in any transition period, innovation must be joined by a willingness to experiment. This means the establishment and cultivation of an experimental apparatus to test and evaluate new concepts are matters of importance both to foster innovation and assess its application.
We build on the trends of rapidity and simultaneity and seek to emphasize control and time. Control is necessary to force behavioral change in adversaries to achieve strategic or political ends. Control and then influence come from a range of threats and outcomes, including putting at risk the targets an adversary holds dear, to imposing a hierarchy of Shock and Awe, to affecting will, perception, and understanding. Achieving control may now be theoretically possible in even more compressed or shortened time periods because of the potential superiority of enhanced U.S. military capability and further training and education. To obtain this level of military superiority that can affect the adversary's will and perception, or at least achieve the practical military consequences, a great deal of thought, debate, and experimentation over new concepts will be needed if only to test and validate contemporary doctrine.
If the political objective is to achieve a level of Shock and Awe beyond only temporary paralysis, then further actions must follow. The end point will be to dominate the enemy in such a way as to achieve the desired objectives. From this concept follows the need to shut down either a state or an organized enemy through the rapid and simultaneous application (or threat of application) of land, sea, air, space, and special operating forces against the broadest spectrum of the adversary's power base and center or centers of gravity and against the adversary's will and perception at tactical and strategic levels.
In Desert Storm, the objectives were first to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait and then to restore the legitimate government. From these objectives, more limited strategic and political objectives followed, some for purposes of maintaining coalition solidarity and UN-imposed sanctions. Not occupying Baghdad was one such political limitation. These strategic objectives led to identification of the enemy's centers of gravity as the basis for the application of force to destroy these centers. This planning led to the repeated, rapid, and simultaneous use of massive force with great effect.
One obvious tactical objective was to eliminate Saddam Hussein's command and control. This was accomplished by simultaneous and massive attacks. Once command and control was destroyed, Iraqi forces in the Kuwait Theater of Operations (KTO) would be destroyed as quickly as possible with overwhelming force and with minimum casualties. As General Colin Powell simply stated, "My plan is to cut off Saddam's army and then kill it."
There was no sanctuary for Iraqi forces in the KTO. They were completely vulnerable to unrelenting and devastating attack. Outside the KTO, targeting was more selective, not because the means were unavailable for imposing sufficient damage but because our military objectives were purposely limited. Given the effectiveness of the air campaign and the overwhelming superiority on the ground, coalition land forces required only 4 of the 41 days of the war to defeat and to eject Iraq's forces from Kuwait.
Suppose a Desert Storm-type campaign were fought 20 years from now based on a plan that exploited the concept of Rapid Dominance. Further assume that Iraq has improved (and rebuilt) its military and that, in a series of simultaneous and nearly instantaneous actions, our primary objective was still to shut Iraq down, threaten or destroy its leadership, and isolate and destroy its military forces as we did in 1991. However, two decades hence, Rapid Dominance might conceivably achieve this objective in a matter of days (or perhaps hours) and not after the 6 months or the 500,000 troops that were required in 1990 to 1991. Rapid Dominance may even offer the prospect of stopping an invasion in its tracks.
Shutting the 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. Simultaneously, Iraq's armed forces would be paralyzed with the neutralization or destruction of its capabilities. Deception, disinformation, and misinformation would be applied massively.
This level of simultaneity and Rapid Dominance must also demonstrate to the adversary our endurance and staying power, that is, the capability to dominate over as much time as is necessary less 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. There must be staying power effect on the enemy or they merely absorb the blows, gain in confidence and their ability to resist, and change tactics much as occurred during the WWII bombing campaigns and the air war over North Vietnam.
Achieving these levels of Shock and Awe requires a wide versatility and competence in employing land, sea, air, space, and special operating forces and in investment in technology to produce Rapid Dominance. Different methods for commanding the battle using both hierarchical and non-hierarchical command to control and direct our forces are likely to be required especially given the simultaneous application of capabilities throughout the given battle space by the full spectrum of our forces. To use these combinations of forces will require adjustment of current service doctrine and prescribed roles and functions. Rapid Dominance also means looking to invest in technologies perhaps not fully or currently captured by the Cold War paradigm.
To develop the proper combination of forces and future technology investment for Rapid Dominance, extensive experimentation with this core concept will be required. This exper-imentation must apply to all levels of military educational institutions; it must be joint; it can be accelerated by availability of recent advances in simulation technology; and it must have operational trials in the field.
To advance this concept, technology and its infrastructure and application are vital. Here, understanding several facts is important. The U.S. today is graduating through its college and universities system approximately 200,000 American and foreign scientists and engineers per year. This is a great national resource. This technology infrastructure is dimensions larger in number and scope than the aggregate of anywhere else in the world. Through appreciation and exploitation of this potential, a U.S. position of pre-eminence in science and technology could be assured for the foreseeable future.
One adjunct of this technology revolution is in the information and information management areas- which, in the U.S., are heavily commercially oriented. Future military application may well be analogous to the impact of the internal combustion engine and wireless radio on land, sea, and air forces in the 1920s and 1930s. The size of this technological lead between ourselves and the rest of the world, especially in the base for new information products and services, should widen further in knowledge and in application. The "Silicon Valley" revolution is likely to continue increasing computer capacity on an almost annual basis. By the year 2005, computing power should be many fold times today's capacity-perhaps ultimately beginning to close in on the ability of humans to handle data flow as well as the ability to condense and synthesize data.
In parallel to advances in computing power will be the ability to transfer information into and out of the hands of individual users. The addition of virtual reality and other technical aids will enhance and potentially quicken individual decision-making ability. Technologies associated with bioscience and bioengineering are likely to be of particular importance in enhancing these capabilities and are also an area of American predominance. Material sciences, software, and communications are all American strengths, and should remain so well into the next century.
A significant element supporting this explosion in applied information and other technologies is the American free enterprise system and its entrepreneurial character. This drive is needed to translate this technology into military hardware. The nature of the U.S. market and its competitive basis reinforce this element. The largest challenges may be to shape and exploit this commercial potential and then to ensure that its enduring advantages become fundamental in the makeup of our military forces. Unlike the defense industrial base required during the Cold War, this new commercial base is neither heavy nor is it a massive industry relying on producing large things. Indeed, its edge has depended on getting "smaller, smarter, and cheaper."
The fundamental technology thrust for channeling this new American industrial base to support Rapid Dominance must be toward the control and management of everything that is significant to the operations bearing on the particular Area of Interest (AOI). And we mean everything! Control of the environment is far broader than only the objective of achieving dominant battlefield awareness. Control means the ability to change, to a greater or lesser degree, the "signatures" of all of the combat forces engaged in the AOI. With this concept, the operational frameworks in applying force across the entire spectrum of platforms (satellites, aircraft, land vehicles, ships) can be measured (and controlled) from many minus decibels of cross section, to many plus decibels; communications can be entirely covert, i.e., many dB less than the ambient environment, or that approaching "white noise." The location of both the individual and his unit can be measured in real time in meters, if not feet, anywhere in the world. Through virtual reality, movement in three-dimensional grids over hundreds of square kilometers, offer precise location and movement control, both during day and night in conditions of unprecedented confidence. This occurs in real time. Denying or deceiving the adversary, including real-time manipulation of senses and inputs, is part of this control.
A Rapid Dominance-configured force would enter an AOI and immediately control the operational/environmental signatures both individually and in the aggregate. As needed, line and non-line-of-sight weapons of near pin-point accuracy would be delivered across the entire area of operation. Stealthy UAVs and mobile robotics systems, together with decoys, would be deployed in large numbers for surveillance, targeting, strike, and deception and would produce their own impact of electronic Shock and Awe on the enemy. This application of force can be done as rapidly as political and strategic conditions demand.
The effects mean literally "turning on and off" the "lights" that enable any potential aggressor to see or appreciate the conditions and events concerning his forces and, ultimately, his society. What is radically different in Rapid Dominance is the comprehensive system assemblage and integration of many evolving and even revolutionary technical advances in dominant battlefield awareness squared-materials application, sensor and signature control, computer and bioengineering applied to massive amounts of data, enable weapon application with simultaneity, precision, and lethality that to date have not been applied as a total system. Deception, disinformation, and misinformation will become major elements of this systemic approach.
The R&D reality is that technology advances will likely come from the commercial world as the DOD base continues to shrink. It is clear that in certain areas, DOD must remain involved where there is no private R&D or to fill gaps in R&D. Warships, fighter aircraft, tanks, and missile defense are examples. However, advances in commercial technology in the Information Age are unlikely to be matched by DOD.
Of equal importance is how we train, organize, and educate our combat officers and key enlisted personnel. Command must be geared to achieving the best of the best-not the best among the good. Assimilating in real time the vast amount of information and putting information to use will no doubt lead to major changes in the composition, competence, and authority of (even and especially) individual military unit commanders perhaps to the squad or private soldier level.
Of course, even with the most perfect information, an unqualified, inexperienced, or unprepared military commander may not win except with extraordinary luck or an incompetent foe. And, we repeat that there are cases where NO military force may be able to succeed if the objectives are unobtainable. The match of the entrepreneurial individual with the potential of the technology base is key. Optimizing and integrating all elements into a total system is a certain way to exploit the opportunity that we can perceive becoming more visible in the coming years.
Shock and Awe
The basis for Rapid Dominance rests in the ability to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary through imposing sufficient Shock and Awe to achieve the necessary political, strategic, and operational goals of the conflict or crisis that led to the use of force. War, of course, in the broadest sense has been characterized by Clausewitz to include substantial elements of "fog, friction, and fear." In the Clausewitzian view, "shock and awe" were necessary effects arising from application of military power and were aimed at destroying the will of an adversary to resist. Earlier and similar observations had been made by the great Chinese military writer Sun Tzu around 500 B.C. Sun Tzu observed that disarming an adversary before battle was joined was the most effective outcome a commander could achieve. Sun Tzu was well aware of the crucial importance of achieving Shock and Awe prior to, during, and in ending battle. He also observed that "war is deception," implying that Shock and Awe were greatly leveraged through clever, if not brilliant, employment of force.
In Rapid Dominance, the aim of affecting the adversary's will, understanding, and perception through achieving Shock and Awe is multifaceted. To identify and present these facets, we need first to examine the different aspects of and mechanisms by which Shock and Awe affect an adversary. One recalls from old photographs and movie or television screens, the comatose and glazed expressions of survivors of the great bombardments of World War I and the attendant horrors and death of trench warfare. These images and expressions of shock transcend race, culture, and history. Indeed, TV coverage of Desert Storm vividly portrayed Iraqi soldiers registering these effects of battlefield Shock and Awe.
In our excursion, we seek to determine whether and how Shock and Awe can become sufficiently intimidating and compelling factors to force or otherwise convince an adversary to accept our will in the Clausewitzian sense, such that the strategic aims and military objectives of the campaign will achieve a political end. Then, Shock and Awe are linked to the four core characteristics that define Rapid Dominance: knowledge, rapidity, brilliance, and control.
The first step in this process is to establish a hierarchy of different types, models, and examples of Shock and Awe in order to identify the principal mechanisms, aims, and aspects that differentiate each model as unique or important. At this stage, historical examples are offered. However, in subsequent stages, a task will be to identify current and future examples to show the effects of Shock and Awe. From this identification, the next step in this methodology is to develop alternative mission capability packages consisting of a concept of operations doctrine, tactics, force structure, organizations, and systems to analyze and determine how best each form or variant of Shock and Awe might be achieved. To repeat, intimidation and compliance are the outputs we seek to obtain by the threat of use or by the actual application of our alternative force package. Then the mission capability package is examined in conditions of both MRCs and OOTW.
For discussion purposes, nine examples representing differing historical types, variants, and characteristics of Shock and Awe have been derived. These examples are not exclusive categories and overlap exists between and among them. The first example is "Overwhelming Force," the doctrine and concept shaping today's American force structure. The aims of this doctrine are to apply massive or overwhelming force as quickly as possible on an adversary in order to disarm, incapacitate, or render the enemy militarily impotent with as few casualties and losses to ourselves and to non-combatants as possible. The superiority of American forces, technically and operationally, is crucial to successful application.
There are several major criticisms and potential weaknesses of this approach. The first is its obvious reliance on large numbers of highly capable (and expensive) platforms such as the M-1 tank, F-14,15, and 18 aircraft and CVN/DDG-51/SSN-688 ships designed principally to be used jointly or individually to destroy and attrite other forces and supporting capability. In other words, this example has principally been derived from force-on-forces attrition relationships even though command and control, logistical, and supporting forces cannot be disaggregated from this doctrine.
The other major shortcoming of a force-on-force or a platform-on-platform attrition basis is that with declining numbers of worthy and well enough equipped adversaries against whom to apply this doctrine, justifying it to a questioning Congress and public will prove more difficult. While it is clear that "system of systems" and other alternative military concepts are under consideration, for the time being, these have not replaced the current platform and force-on-force attrition orientation. It should be noted, there will be no doctrinal alternatives unless ample effort is made to provide a comprehensive and detailed examination of possible alternatives.
Second, this approach is based on ultimately projecting large amounts of force. This requires significant logistical lift and the time to transport the necessary forces. Rapidity may not always follow, especially when it is necessary to deliver large quantities of decisive force to remote or distant regions. Third, the costs of maintaining a sufficiently decisive force may outstrip the money provided to pay for the numbers of highly capable forces needed. Finally, at a time when the commercial marketplace is increasing the performance of its products while also lowering price and cycle time to field newer generations systems, the opposite trends are still endemic in the defense sector. This will compound the tension between quality and quantity already cited. None of these shortcomings is necessarily fatal. However, none should be dismissed without fuller understanding.
Certainly, Rapid Dominance seeks to achieve certain objectives that are similar to those of current doctrine. A major distinction is that Rapid Dominance envisages a wider application of force across a broader spectrum of leverage points to impose Shock and Awe. This breadth should lead to a more comprehensive and integrated interaction among all the specific components and units that produce aggregate military capability and must include training and education, as well as new ways to exploit our technical and industrial capacity. It is possible that in these resource, technical, and commercial industrial areas that Rapid Dominance may provide particular utility that otherwise may constrain the effectiveness of Decisive Force.
The second example is "Hiroshima and Nagasaki" noted earlier. The intent here is to impose a regime of Shock and Awe through delivery of instant, nearly incomprehensible levels of massive destruction directed at influencing society writ large, meaning its leadership and public, rather than targeting directly against military or strategic objectives even with relatively few numbers or systems. The employment of this capability against society and its values, called "counter-value" in the nuclear deterrent jargon, is massively destructive strikes directly at the public will of the adversary to resist and, ideally or theoretically, would instantly or quickly incapacitate that will over the space of a few hours or days.
The major flaws and shortcomings are severalfold and rest in determining whether this magnitude and speed of destruction can actually be achieved using non-nuclear systems to render an adversary impotent; to destroy quickly the will to resist within acceptable and probably unachievably low levels of societal destruction; and whether a political decision would be taken in any case to use this type of capability given the magnitude of the consequences and the risk of failure.
It can be argued that in the bombing campaign of Desert Storm, similar objectives were envisioned. The differences between this example and Desert Storm are through the totality of a society that would be affected by a massive and indiscriminate regime of destruction and the speed of imposing those strikes as occurred to those Japanese cities. This example of shock, awe, and intimidation rests on the proposition that such effects must occur in very short periods of time.
The next example is "Massive Bombardment." This category of Shock and Awe applies massive and, perhaps today, relatively precise destructive power largely against military targets and related sectors over time. It is unlikely to produce an immediate effect on the will of the adversary to resist. In a sense, this is an endurance contest in which the enemy is finally broken through exhaustion. However, it is the cumulative effect of this application of destruction power that will ultimately impose sufficient Shock and Awe, as well as perhaps destroy the physical means to resist, that an adversary will be forced to accept whatever terms may be imposed. As noted, trench warfare of the First World War, the strategic bombing campaign in Europe of the Second World War (which was not effective in this regard), and related B-52 raids in Vietnam and especially over the New Year period of 1972-73, illustrate the application of massive bombardment.
Massive Bombardment, directed at largely military-strategic targets, is indeed an aspect of applying "Overwhelming Force," even though political constraints make this example most unlikely to be repeated in the future. There is also the option of applying massive destruction against purely civilian or "counter-value" targets such as the firebombing of Tokyo in World War II when unconditionality marks the terms of surrender. It is the cumulative impact of destruction on the endurance and capacity of the adversary that ultimately affects the will to resist that is the central foundation of this example.
The shortcoming with this example is clear, and rests in the question of political feasibility and acceptability, and what circumstances would be necessary to dictate and permit use of massive bombardment. Outright invasion and aggression such as Iraq's attack against Kuwait could clearly qualify as reasons to justify using this level of Shock and Awe. However, as with Overwhelming Force, this response is not time-sensitive and would require massive application of force for some duration as well as political support.
Fourth is the "Blitzkreig" example. In real Blitzkreig, Shock and Awe were not achieved through the massive application of firepower across a broad front nor through the delivery of massive levels of force. Instead, the intent was to apply precise, surgical amounts of tightly focused force to achieve maximum leverage but with total economies of scale. The German Wehrmacht's Blitzkreig was not a massive attack across a very broad front, although the opponent may have been deceived into believing that. Instead, the enemy's line was probed in multiple locations and, wherever it could be most easily penetrated, attack was concentrated in a narrow salient. The image is that of the shaped charge, penetrating through a relatively tiny hole in a tank's armor and then exploding outwardly to achieve a maximum cone of damage against the unarmored or less protected innards.
To the degree that this example of achieving Shock and Awe is directed against military targets, it requires skill if not brilliance in execution, or nearly total incompetence in the adversary. The adversary, finding front lines broken and the rear vulnerable, panics, surrenders, or both. Hitler's campaign in France and Holland and the seizure of the Dutch forts and the occupation of Crete in 1940 are obvious illustrations. The use of Special Operations forces in significant numbers is an adjunct to imposing this level of Shock and Awe.
Desert Storm could have been a classic Blitzkreig maneuver if the attack were mounted without the long preparatory bombardment and was concentrated in a single sector-either the "left hook" or the Marine attack "up the middle," and with total surprise. The major differences between the operation in Kuwait and Germany's capture of France in 1940 were that the allies in Saudi Arabia had complete military and technical superiority unlike the Germans and that, once under attack, Iraq's front line collapsed virtually everywhere, giving the coalition license to pick and choose the points for penetration and then dominate the battle with fire and maneuver. The lesson for future adversaries about the Blitzkreig example and the United States is that they will face in us an opponent able to employ technically superior forces with brilliance, speed, and vast leverage in achieving Shock and Awe through the precise application of force.
It must also be noted that there are certainly situations such as guerilla war where this or most means of employing force to obtain Shock and Awe may simply prove inapplicable. For example, the German Blitzkreig would have performed with the greatest difficulty in the Vietnam War, where enemy forces had relatively few lines to be penetrated or selectively savaged by this type of warfare.
The shortcomings of Blitzkrieg ironically rest in its strengths. Can brilliance and superiority be maintained? Is there a flexible enough infrastructure to ensure training to that standard, and can the supporting industrial base continue to produce at acceptable costs the systems to maintain this operational and technical superiority? Rapid Dominance requires a positive answer to these questions, at least theoretically.