Editor's Shelf


From Parameters, Spring 2002, pp. 116-17.


In a literary world filled with emotionalism and hyperbole, there are a few guiding stars. RAND Corporation is such a celestial body. RAND continues its excellent work in support of the defense establishment through the publication of a series of studies and reports on issues critical to national defense and the security of the nation.

NATO's Air War for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational Assessment, by RAND researcher Benjamin S. Lambeth, provides one of the most comprehensive reviews to date of Operation Allied Force. As advertised, the study focuses on the air war's strategic and operational objectives. However, Lambeth goes beyond the traditional perspectives to provide the reader with an understanding that although Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic may have capitulated following 78 days of bombing, that result in no way should be interpreted as an unqualified endorsement of the use of air power to resolve regional conflicts. In fact, Lambeth characterizes the use of air power during the operation as "suboptimal."

The author asserts that the principal problems restricting the operation's ultimate success were uncooperative weather, an underestimated opponent, and a lack of will on the part of NATO planners and their supporting officials to strike "high-risk" targets (those with possible civilian casualties or the loss of crews). The fact that this report was prepared as part of RAND's continuing "Project Air Force," speaks volumes about the seriousness of the strategic and operational deficiencies inherent in the campaign. These deficiencies were then magnified by such inadvertent acts as the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

The greatest value of this work lies in Lambeth's examination of political and strategic perspectives that may be of use to policymakers conducting such operations in the future. In his concluding chapter, "NATO's Air War in Perspective," the author captures the opinions of a host of experts with the catch-all comment, "just because it came out reasonably well, at least in the eyes of the Administration [and nation], does not mean it was conducted properly." Lambeth leaves little doubt that one should not infer from Operation Allied Force that air power can now "win wars alone." Rather, the real lessons learned from the campaign are to be found at the strategic level, in the ability of the alliance to operate as a combatant command, and in how to avoid such post-conflict critiques as "a military success and a political failure."

A recent study from RAND's Arroyo Center for the Army's Deputy Chief for Intelligence, The Emergence of Peer Competitors: A Framework for Analysis by Thomas S. Szayna et al., is intended for intelligence analysts in the hope of providing a framework for thinking systematically about possible peer competitors. Although published for the intelligence community, the study will certainly tweak the interests of the academic and defense establishments, as well as anyone involved in long-range assessments of America's future.

The framework is based on the interaction between the strategies available to a "proto-peer" (a state that is not yet a peer but has the potential to be one) and those of the hegemon. Using exploratory modeling techniques, the possible interactions between the proto-peer and hegemon are depicted in a manner that highlights specific actions which may lead to rivalries between the parties. However, beyond all the matrixes and decision calculus, serious students of political science, international relations, national security, and military strategy will find this work of great value. Chapters 3 and 4 present a comprehensive and instructive analysis of what constitutes a peer competitor and the response a hegemon would have to any perceived threats. This small book should be a part of the library of any student of the military art, if for no reason other than the excellent appendices and bibliography. Whether one agrees with the author's methodologies or not, the book provides a succinct and structured way of thinking about America's future.

Many new institutes and centers are entering the publishing arena. One such organization is the Center for Advanced Concepts and Technology, a self-defined "skunk works" providing an outlet for interests within the Department of Defense. With funding from the Command, Control, and Research Program (CCRP) under the auspices of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (C3I), the center has made a most valuable contribution to the study of modern warfare with its publication of Understanding Information Age Warfare by Dr. David S. Alberts et al. The book captures the thoughts and insights of a working group dedicated to examining and understanding information superiority and network-centric warfare. Members of the group come from almost every sector of defense and industry.

The authors postulate that the role of militaries as they relate to national security and the manner in which they will be equipped and organized must transform if we are to be victorious in the Information Age. The book presents an alternative to the linear and deterministic planning strategies that dominated military planning in the past. In direct and irrefutable language, the authors tell us the time has come to pause and reassess the way the Department of Defense invests in, acquires, equips, and trains its forces. The authors warn that the dynamics of the Information Age will punish those who fail to adapt.

Another organization championing the peaceful resolution of international conflict is the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). An independent institute established by Congress, it recently published John Darby's latest effort, The Effects of Violence on Peace Processes. This book is a concise and relevant examination of five cases involving the relationship between peace and violence--Northern Ireland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Israel-Palestine, and the Basque country. In his examination Darby identifies four specific categories of violence, then analyzes the effects and outcomes of each in the five cases. The author defines policy implications for the future and outlines how "guardians" of the peace process can defeat those who challenge them, thereby breaking the cycle of violence. This is a book for scholars and policymakers alike.

A second USIP offering, A Strategy for Stable Peace: Toward a Euroatlantic Security Community by James Goodby, Petrus Buwalda, and Dmitri Trenin, examines the prospects for a valid and lasting peace among the United States, Russia, and Europe. These three distinguished diplomats, drawing on their extensive experience and regional expertise, present a strategy for a stable peace acceptable to all nations. They provide a gutsy analysis of the major issues--the antiballistic missile treaty, NATO enlargement, economic costs, human rights, global terrorism, and the European Union, to name just a few. The authors present more than 40 policy recommendations designed to shape future US, Russian, and European relationships. A Strategy for Stable Peace is a valuable resource for policymakers and students of international relations. -- RHT


For details on publishers and prices of books mentioned, see "Off the Press" or call Parameters at 717-245-4943 (e-mail: usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil).

Reviewed 6 March 2002. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil