Future Conflict: Force XXI Against the Asymmetric Opponent   [open pdf - 3MB]

Using Force XXI operational concepts, the US Military expects to overwhelm both high and low technology opponents. If history is any indication, however, apparently low-tech forces have the potential at least to tie 'modern,' conventional militaries. This monograph will assess Force XXI operations against these apparently limited threats. Although they may not have modernized their military to compete directly with the Force XXI Army, by focusing on certain aspects of conflict, they may be able to survive and therefore succeed. The comparison of a Force XXI military and a regional opponent must encompass more than quantitative measures of military effectiveness. The analogy this monograph employs is that of the improvisational theater. The militaries are actors on stage, performing under the direction of their governments and to achieve national objectives. A watchful world audience is provided with real time coverage of the action through the media. The construction of the stage may impose limitations on the combatants in a modern conflict. Significantly, actors of varying ability on stage sometimes perform equally well in theater. This analogy allows militaries of different abilities to compete on stage with the apparently weaker side occasionally capable of victory. The Force XXI requirement for rapid and decisive operations, at minimum cost, may result in a force incapable of sustained combat or effective use against certain threats. Not all opponents will collapse when overwhelming force is applied to their command and control facilities. U.S. political objectives might call for more than military defeat.

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