ABSTRACT

After the Storm: The 'New Concept' and the 'Small War' Challenge   [open pdf - 1MB]

The Gulf War has significantly influenced our attitudes and perceptions about war. The New Concept views war as conflict won quickly and decisively with minimum casualties. The means to this end is superior military technology applied within the context of Joint combined-arms operations. Conditions necessary for the New Concept to deliver quick, low-cost victory may be articulated as attributes which characterize the ideal enemy. Evaluation on the level of strategic theory indicates the asymmetric nature of any conflict involving America will militate against the enemy having these attributes. Evaluation of the ethno-religious small wars which characterize our present age suggests the prospect for quick, low-cost victory to be similarly remote in these conflicts. Although the New Concept's preferred operational context, Joint combined-arms operations, will not lend itself to universal employment, its ethic of quick, low-cost victory will tend to be applied to all military situations. The Commander will find himself attempting to resolve the tension between accomplishing the mission and the need for zero defects warfare. Despite the New Concept focus on mid-intensity, conventional conflict, the most likely case conflict in the out years is the ethno-religious small war. These small wars will be challenging because of their prolificacy, the streamlining of our military and unrealistic public expectations resulting from Desert Storm. To address this challenge, the United States military should broaden its field of view to better include all conflict types, strengthen its special operations forces and intelligence capabilities, diversify its technology and, if possible, attempt a coup de main in these small wars.

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