ABSTRACT

Remarks on 'the New American Way of War'   [open pdf - 153KB]

An "American Way of War" emerged after the end of the Cold War, in successive combat experiences. The current war in Iraq, once successfully concluded, is going to create a dramatically new strategic environment, at least in the Gulf area. In the new era, it goes hand in glove with minimizing own casualties and, as strike capabilities have evolved, controlling collateral damage. The elements of the Desert Storm toolkit had been greatly improved across the 1990s, but applied piecemeal. The U.S. has planned the operation carefully, leaving the initial planning to the Combat Commander, but subjecting it to the usual intense interaction with Washington, with a more engaged Secretary of Defense than previously. Notwithstanding, the conquest of Iraq will allow the U.S. to finally stand down Northern Watch and Southern Watch and to disband the maritime interception operation (MIO) in the Gulf. The U.S. will not be able to relax on homeland defense or in the pursuit of al Qaeda from country to country. For this Administration, it appears to be wrapping up unfinished business of 1991, aggravated by 9/11 and the frustrations of definitively clearing out WMD from Iraq. The U.S. got other countries (especially the Saudis, Germans, and Japanese) to cover most of the $62 billion cost of Desert Storm in 1990-1991, but will have to finance OIF itself. In OIF, the primary goal is regime change, and with it, the final disposition of Iraq's WMD capabilities, on the ground, not through inspections or voluntary Iraqi actions.

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