Selective Intervention - Rethinking America's Strategic Employment of Force   [open pdf - 1MB]

"In the absence of a war of survivability and the lack of true political support for military interventions in the near term, it has become imperative that policy makers shape future decisions to commit forces to conflict with a realistic concept of the time requirements needed to achieve a suitable end-state. The careful use of America's Armed Forces will remain a topic of interest for as long as it remains a sovereign nation. Looking carefully at modern United States' use of force doctrines as well as the forces themselves, this paper focuses attention on the development of future intervention policies. Past doctrines focused on overwhelming force in achievement of vital objectives, yet current use seems to tilt in favor of a limited-objective school of thought. Current attention also focuses on how best to achieve success while sustaining a prolonged and protracted global conflict of ideals. Sustainment has now clearly become the critical element in the current fight abroad and, thus, it may now be time to refocus our attention regarding the decision to commit forces to objectives that are open for interpretation in the end. In examining the sustainability of America's all-volunteer force, one finds that the critical component of time must be closely measured prior to choosing an intervention strategy. Lacking the necessary political support for an open-ended commitment, the inability to understand the realities of the effects of time has put a tremendous strain on our Total Force organization and has greatly reduced our ability to respond to future strategic threats. Strategic use of force will continue to follow the basic tenets of modern doctrine concerning the use of force. Yet, future United States' use of force must take a much more realistic view of end state planning. Without the political will necessary for a supreme commitment, time will become the crucial factor in considering any future employment of the all-volunteer force."

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