From the Editor


From Parameters, Spring 2002, pp. 2-4.


In This Issue . . .

Colin Gray examines the character of asymmetric threats and cautions that traditional attempts to define such threats have generally been unproductive. As a consequence, he observes, "A problem with efforts to define an asymmetric threat is that they imply strongly that the universe of threats divides neatly into the symmetric and the asymmetric." Such attempts he adroitly counters are "nonsensical" at best. The author provides eight basic characteristics of asymmetry. He then applies each in the context of terrorism to determine how the United States should react tactically, operationally, and strategically. He cautions American military planners not to become overly focused on asymmetry, thereby ignoring other legitimate threats.

Michael Carlino suggests that as a result of Operation Desert Storm the US military has come to the conclusion that it is no longer necessary to accept heavy casualties to obtain victory. More specifically, the author believes we have translated this increased desire for "casualty avoidance" into a mantra inviting an increase in noncombatant losses. How far should military planners and commanders go to resolve the dichotomy between force protection and noncombatant immunity? Carlino asserts that a combatant's right to life is forfeited when he engages with the enemy. Both have the moral right to kill their foe. However, it is when one considers a noncombatant's right to "immunity" that the relationship between force protection and noncombatant safety becomes problematic. The author draws on the works of Michael Walzer and others to conclude that military and political leaders must abandon their "zero-casualty mentality" and de-emphasize force protection if it means increased risk to noncombatants.

Geoffrey S. Corn and Jan E. Aldykiewicz introduce the first of three articles related to law and war in the 21st century with their treatise suggesting that violators of international law be tried in US military courts. The authors draw on the precedent of the Second World War and Nuremberg to explain the evolution of a doctrine of individual criminal responsibility for violations of the laws of war. They explain that in the past this doctrine was limited to acts committed during state-on-state conflicts; only recently has it been applied to civil wars and internal armed conflicts. The authors review a series of precedent-setting cases under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to determine that recent developments in the law of war make the use of US courts-martial another potential venue for prosecuting individuals who commit war crimes during internal conflicts.

Richard Butler identifies disconnects between current US Army doctrine and the decisions by international tribunals conducting prosecutions under the legal precedent of "unlawful attack." This precedent focuses on military commanders conducting operations that affect the surrounding civilian population. The author postulates that although there have been no prosecutions of US commanders under this doctrine, it is clear that there are increasing expectations by the international community that military commanders be held to a higher standard when making decisions related to ground operations and target selection.

Our final article related to "The Law and War in the 21st Century" is Chris Quillen's disturbing look at the role the Department of Defense can legally play in countering domestic terrorism. Quillen believes that the fundamental limitations placed on the military by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 are being eroded by presidential and congressional desires "to do something" in times of danger. The author uses the threat of nuclear terror to highlight that the involvement of the military in traditional law enforcement roles is not only violating the intent of the act, it is weakening the very principles essential to the maintenance of our American constitutional system. Quillen suggests that instead of changing the current Posse Comitatus law, the nation would be better served by the expansion of structures already in existence within specific national agencies. Such an expansion would require these agencies (FBI and DOE) to agree that a threat is of such magnitude that the Department of Defense should be brought in. The author concludes that this expansion of existing authority, once vetted by the courts, would eliminate current legal restrictions upon DOD and still address genuine concerns about the Defense Department's role in domestic affairs.

Michael J. Hillyard examines how the corporate world and government organize to address specific missions, products, or services provided. Hillyard points out that understanding the distinctions between such institutions is critical to determining the optimal structure for homeland security. How should we organize our many institutions and national capabilities to protect and secure the American people and our way of life? What is the best method for institutionalizing the security of the homeland? The answers to these questions and many others provide the reader with insights into the difficulties associated with organizing such a multifaceted institution. Hillyard proposes a structure organized around the federal bureaucracy, reinforced by a national network of hubs, and integrated across the whole of America. The author warns that we should act now and not be dissuaded by the old myth that it takes decades for institutions within the federal structure to evolve.

Paul Murdock analyzes two of the most misunderstood principles of war--mass and economy of force--to provide the reader with an insightful and illustrative article outlining the capabilities required for success on the network-centric battlefield. The author draws upon the works and deeds of such great commanders and strategists as Liddell Hart, Sherman, MacArthur, and others, to arrive at the conclusion, "Decisions pertaining to the strength of forces are not about frugality; they are about balance, effectiveness, and calculated risk."

P. H. Liotta and Cindy Jebb warn that in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 the world should not lose sight of events in the Balkans, specifically, Macedonia. The fact that the Balkans no longer constitute a primary foreign policy challenge does not mean that the international community can ignore Southeast Europe. The authors argue that Macedonia's future is important to the entire European security architecture. Following a detailed and instructive history of Macedonia and its people, the authors offer several observations designed to successfully guide Macedonia into the 21st century. Europeanization, to include membership in the European Union, is key if Macedonia is to survive. Liotta and Jebb conclude that the fate of Macedonia is in the hands of "external" forces; they can not do it alone.

Book Reviews present a rich and diverse array of offerings, including Russell F. Weigley's review of Jay Winik's April 1865: The Month That Saved America; Richard G. Trefry's look at the latest work of John S. D. Eisenhower and Joanne Thompson Eisenhower, Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I; and Williamson Murray's insightful review of After Clausewitz, German Military Thinkers Before the Great War, by Antulio J. Echevarria. Other reviews of note are William P. Kiehl's review of Empire and Revolution: The United States and the Third World since 1945, Peter L. Hahn and Mary Ann Heiss, editors; Douglas P. Yurovich's analysis of Gian B. Gentile's How Effective Is Strategic Bombing? Lessons Learned from World War II to Kosovo; and William J. Gregor's views on Christopher Sanders' America's Overseas Garrisons: The Leasehold Empire. This is an eclectic collection of reviews, prepared by experts with the intent to inform and advise anyone with a particular interest.

Distribution Surveys . . .

We appreciate the assistance of our readers in the successful execution of two recent distribution surveys. The first entailed a massive mailout of cards last fall, and the second was an email survey of current Department of Distance Education students this past January. Your response to the surveys permitted us to update our database and meet recurring postal requirements, and will result in savings in printing and postage costs in the tens-of-thousands of dollars. As with any undertaking of this magnitude we experienced a few minor glitches along the way, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Finally, I wish to express the sincere appreciation of the entire Parameters staff for the many compliments you so generously volunteered.

Taps . . .

It is again my sad duty to say farewell to a fellow soldier and editor. Colonel Alfred J. Mock, USA Ret., passed away on 7 January 2002. Al was editor of Parameters from November 1973 until May 1976. He entered the Army during World War II and later served in both the Korean conflict and Vietnam. Following his retirement from the US Army War College in 1976, he taught journalism and public relations at a local university. To Kathleen, his loving wife of 42 years, the entire Mock family, and to all of Al's many friends, you have our deepest sympathy. "Wherever Al walked, life improved." -- RHT


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