Strategic Asymmetry   [open pdf - 914KB]

"Military strategists and commanders must think in terms of psychological precision as well-structuring a military operation to shape the attitudes, beliefs and perceptions among the enemy and other observers, whether local noncombatants or global audiences. [Asymmetric approaches] generally seek a major psychological impact, such as shock or confusion that affects an opponent's initiative, freedom of action or will. This article addresses both positive and negative asymmetry. Asymmetric methods require an appreciation of an opponent's vulnerabilities. Asymmetric approaches often employ innovative, nontraditional tactics, weapons or technologies and can be applied at all levels of warfare--strategic, operational and tactical--and across the spectrum of military operations. This latest official definition of asymmetry expanded official thinking but has two shortcomings: it is specific to the current strategic environment and US security situation, and it deals primarily with what an opponent might do to the United States rather than giving equal weight to how the US military might use asymmetry against its opponents. Positive asymmetry will continue to provide the US military with advantages over most enemies. However, effectiveness of asymmetric threats sooner or later declines as the enemy adjusts. By maximizing conceptual and organizational adaptability and flexibility, the US military can assure that it will rapidly counter emerging asymmetric threats and speed the process that renders asymmetric threats insignificant or ineffective. The military that develops new concepts and organizations more quickly than its opponents has a decided advantage. Even so, DOD should continue to refine its understanding of asymmetric challenges. A more general and complete definition of asymmetry is needed as a foundation for doctrine and for integrating maximum adaptability and flexibility, focused intelligence, minimal vulnerability, full-dimension precision and integrated homeland security into US security strategy."

Public Domain
Media Type:
Military Review (July-August 2001), p.23-31
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