Whither the RMA?

 

CHRISTOPHER M. SCHNAUBELT

2007 Christopher M. Schnaubelt


From Parameters,  Autumn 2007, pp. 95-107.


“From Alfred Nobel’s prediction that dynamite was such a radical change
that it would lead to the end of war, to similar claims about the machine
gun, the naval torpedo, the bomber, and the nuclear bomb, predictions of
revolutionary change in warfare have been commonplace—and wrong.”
                                                                      — Mackubin Thomas Owens
1


The strategic importance of technological improvements in US military capability is a key but insufficiently examined issue in the transformation of today’s military.2 Is the present Department of Defense (DOD) attempt at transformation, which focuses on technological solutions to increase capabilities, being misguided by a vision of a high-tech Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)? This question is particularly relevant with regard to attempts to use information management and networked systems in lieu of increased firepower, better armor, and more manpower. The current effort may well be leading America’s military in the wrong direction.

This article suggests that DOD’s endeavors to pursue technical improvements in warfighting functions where US forces already display dominance have been excessive to the point of being counterproductive. Organizational changes based upon assumptions of an ongoing RMA have already placed at-risk the ability to achieve a rapid victory in Iraq. The minimal size of ground forces deployed and available for Operation Iraqi Freedom was the result of planning to fight the war we envisioned, with RMA-capabilities we hoped for, instead of the enemy and conditions we would actually face. The relatively small force employed for the initial ground war was stupendously successful, but rapidly lost its effectiveness during subsequent stability and security operations. Failing to adequately think past the first move, senior decisionmakers ignored the old adage that “the enemy gets a vote.”

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America’s undisputed dominance of conventional maneuver warfare means that intelligent, adaptive enemies will engage us with asymmetric strategies and tactics. The current transformation efforts are not yet capable of meeting this challenge. If the wars of the twenty-first century will primarily involve rogue regimes and failed states, even exponential increases in traditional combat capabilities are likely to produce only marginal improvement in our ability to achieve the larger political objectives. While trying to get even better at the tasks in which America’s military already excels is prudent, this goal should not be pursued at the expense of fixing vulnerabilities that current and future enemies are likely to exploit using asymmetric strategies and tactics. In particular, DOD would be better served by improving its ability to coordinate and execute interagency operations that support employment of the entire range of national power—a critical improvement that is likely to require more personnel instead of less and greater emphasis on human resources rather than technology.

A Historical Perspective

Arguably, the earliest well-documented RMA occurred during the First Punic War between Carthage and Rome. One of the leading city-states, Carthage was the greatest maritime power of the age and possessed major trade routes throughout the known world when the war began in 264 B.C. Its armies had also been widely victorious. Consisting mostly of mercenaries and allied troops led by Carthaginian officers, they had been successful in expanding Carthage’s footprint and establishing colonies in Spain, Sardinia, the Balearic Islands east of Spain, Malta, and Sicily while controlling most of the North African coast along the Mediterranean Sea.3

Rome, in contrast, was an emerging regional power still fighting to complete its domination of the Italian Peninsula. While its legions were nearly invincible land formations, Rome had no navy. When Rome and Carthage came into conflict over spheres of influence in Sicily, the Carthaginian strategy was to defend from heavily fortified cities and control the seas. Carthage expected the upstart Rome, which had little experience in expeditionary warfare, to eventually wear itself out trying to fight with overstretched lines of communication that it could not protect.

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Determined to defeat Carthage, in 261 B.C. the Roman Senate made the strategic decision to build an initial fleet of 120 warships. In addition to rowers, each ship carried a complement of approximately 125 soldiers. The Romans did not fare well in the initial sea battles; they could not match the Carthaginians in terms of skill and tactic. However, the Romans developed a technological leap: the corvus (raven), a boarding bridge with a beak-like spike on the end that the Roman vessels used to latch on to enemy ships and permitted their soldiers to storm aboard the Carthaginian vessels. This innovation practically turned naval engagements into land warfare, the type of battle in which the Romans excelled. In 260 B.C. at Mylae, 258 B.C. at Sulci, and 257 B.C. at Tyndaris, the Romans won major naval engagements. Finally, in 256 B.C., the Romans defeated the entire Carthaginian fleet off Cape Ecnomus (southern Sicily), setting conditions for the invasion of Africa and the siege of Carthage.

Initiating a RMA, the corvus permitted the Romans to use their superlative skill in land battle to achieve victory at sea. However, the success of the corvus first required the strategic willingness to venture into naval combat—a new domain of warfare for the Romans. Furthermore, before boarding enemy ships with their infantry Roman warships first had to master maritime navigation and develop the rowing skills necessary to maneuver against enemy vessels. Roman admirals had to learn to provide expeditionary logistical support and to command and control their fleets at sea. The corvus did not merely improve Rome’s existing capability in naval warfare, it enabled Rome to effectively compete victoriously in this new domain.

This RMA did not make the Romans invulnerable to the vicissitudes of war. It took the Romans another 20 years to win the First Punic War following the introduction of the corvus. Many of the land campaigns, where the Carthaginians defended strongly fortified cities, were stalemates despite Roman mastery of land warfare. Good fortune also played a role. In 255 B.C., the Roman fleet lost two-thirds of its ships in a storm that resulted in the drowning of almost the entire army. That same year, the proconsular commander of the army besieging Carthage, Marcus Atilius Regulus, blundered at the Battle of Bagradas. The Spartan general Xanthippus (hired by Carthage to defend the city) used elephants to shatter the tight ranks of the legions, defeated the Roman army, and captured Regulus. Additionally, it was about this time that the Carthaginians began to develop maritime tactics to counter the advantage of the corvus. Those new tactics resulted in their winning a major naval engagement at Drepana in 249 B.C. This was the Romans’ worst defeat at sea during the First Punic War. It was quickly followed by the remainder of the Roman fleet being shipwrecked by another tempest.

When the First Punic War was finally settled on terms highly favorable to Rome, another successful land battle played a critical role after the

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Romans laid siege to Carthage. The corvus was revolutionary technology that gave the Romans an advantage which they successfully exploited in a totally new domain. This RMA, however, was not by itself decisive nor did it permit Rome to ignore the other elements of warfare necessary to win against Carthage. Conventional victory on land was still required despite the revolutionary effectiveness of the corvus at sea. A tactical error, as occurred at Bagradas, could (and did) result in the loss of an entire campaign. Furthermore, the Romans had to master the basics of warfare in a totally new domain—the sea—in order to successfully employ the corvus.

American Visions of an RMA

Initial speculation about a twenty-first century RMA was based upon leaps in military technologies—especially information technology— and by the ability of American armed forces to leverage these advances.4 According to David Gompert, “the revolution’s mortar and pestle are stand-off weapons and information dominance—that is, complete knowledge of what all enemy and friendly forces are doing.”5 With an unparalleled ability to detect enemy forces and rapidly deliver precision munitions against high-value targets throughout the depth of the battlespace, US forces were expected to decisively outmatch any potential adversary and fully dominate every military contest. Joint fires, “in most cases, USAF-supplied air support,” would largely replace field artillery.6 The improved ability of the joint force to strike virtually any target at any location when combined with greater mobility and lethality implied the need for a much smaller tactical footprint and fewer ground forces.

The impact of a posited RMA, and its implications for force structure, has been hotly debated. Following Operation Allied Force in 1999, some analysts argued that the campaign over Kosovo demonstrated the capability of joint and combined airpower to force enemy capitulation without the need for boots on the ground. Charles Dunlap, for example, wrote: “Indeed, Allied Force was the first major operation in which aircraft achieved victory without the need for a land campaign. What really encouraged airpower enthusiasts was the apparent vindication of decades-old theories that air attacks could achieve a psychological effect on an enemy that would force it to yield even when its military remained in the field able to resist.”7 Without employing ground forces in combat operations, according to champions of RMA theory, the air campaign achieved the military objective stated by then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen: “to degrade and damage the military and security structure that President Milosevic (Yugoslav President) has used to depopulate and destroy the Albanian majority in Kosovo.”8

Yet other writers have disagreed with the hypothesis that airpower single-handedly resulted in victory, pointing out the role played by the

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Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and asserting that the threat of ground force employment by the United States and its allies was a critical factor in Milosevic’s decision to capitulate.9 Furthermore, while airpower alone may have arguably been sufficient to force the withdrawal of the Yugoslavian military from Kosovo, achieving the larger political goals required a significant influx of peacekeeping forces, a mission that continues with an American brigade remaining in Kosovo today.

Initial impressions of the rapid collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan also seemed to highlight the capability of airpower in the absence of staging bases and a lengthy buildup of ground forces. US Special Operations forces were inserted to work with elements of the Northern Alliance and target precision-guided munitions delivered from the air.10 Stephen Biddle describes the “Afghan Model” as “SOF-guided bombs doing the real killing at a distance. . . . All [local allies] have to do is screen US commandos from occasional hostile survivors and occupy abandoned ground later on. America can thus defeat rogues at global distances with few US casualties and little danger of appearing to be a conquering power.”11 The recent resurgence of Taliban attacks raises doubts about what once appeared to be an enduring success for US airpower in support of local forces with minimal employment of American ground units. There is no question that the Taliban was militarily defeated. Its ability to regenerate and threaten US goals for Afghanistan shows something was missing from the American military’s initial campaign— perhaps a holistic stability, security, transition, and reconstruction effort.12 As history has frequently demonstrated, a determined enemy will reorganize, rearm, and attack again if provided a sanctuary from which to regenerate.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Informed by the experiences in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and imbued with a belief in US technological dominance, the Department of Defense adopted a campaign plan for Iraq with a relatively minor role for Army and Marine Corps units. Great expectations were created on the belief that a massive hail of cruise missiles and bombs falling upon Saddam Hussein and his leaders would produce the “shock and awe” necessary to cause “the psychological destruction of the enemy’s will to fight rather than the physical destruction of his military forces.” As opposed to the “armored armada” required for Desert Storm, if shock and awe had the desired effects there would be no need for an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) ground campaign.13

Furthermore, many officials believed that the vast majority of the Iraqi populace would welcome the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and view Coalition forces as liberators. Over the objections of then-Chief of Staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki, a much smaller ground force was committed to the occupa-

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tion phase of OIF than many planners thought would be necessary. While General Shinseki estimated that “several hundred thousand troops” would be necessary to occupy Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz called this figure “wildly off the mark.”14 Believing that an RMA had already occurred—and that OIF could be the forcing function for transformation—seemed to be a major factor in the Pentagon’s insistence on limiting the size of ground forces to less than half of what General Shinseki and others believed necessary.

Although it was certainly a joint effort with a significant ground component, the initial phases of OIF appeared to validate the ability of US (and Coalition) forces to rapidly defeat a much larger military. Saddam’s army, which outnumbered Coalition forces on the ground by a ratio of three or four to one, was rapidly defeated. Max Boot described this accomplishment as “one of the signal achievements in military history.” Reflecting his belief that it was the result of a successful revolution in US operations, he further argued:

This spectacular success was not achieved easily, however. It required overcoming the traditional mentality of some active and retired officers who sniped relentlessly at Rumsfeld right up until the giant statue of Saddam fell in Baghdad’s Firdos Square on 9 April 2003. Winning the war in Iraq first required rooting out the old American way of war from its Washington redoubts.15

RMA Skepticism

Yet roughly a year later, with insurgents dramatically threatening Coalition control in Najaf, Kut, and Fallujah, it began to appear that much of the “sniping” had merit. Toppling Saddam’s regime as well as his statue only partially achieved OIF’s strategic objectives. As Steven Metz and Raymond Millen dryly note, “the intervention in Iraq went very well from a military perspective but was significantly less successful once the initial combat abated.”16

Of the goals listed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during a press conference in March 2003, at least two remain in doubt after more than four years of post-major combat operations: capturing or driving out terrorists from Iraq, and creating the conditions for a rapid transition to a stable representative government.17 Terrorists such as al Qaeda in Iraq have demonstrated the ability to conduct high-profile attacks on civilians despite the best efforts of Coalition and Iraqi forces to secure Baghdad. Although sectarian violence dropped significantly in January through April 2007 following President George W. Bush’s announcement of the “surge,” it began to rise again in May.18 The current government of Iraq was democratically elected, but its level of stability and degree of representing the populace are arguable. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, for example, has been trying to drum-up opposition to the current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, arguing that the present govern-

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ment is too sectarian: “Iraq cannot survive under the current Shia leadership, and Sunnis must have a much larger role in government.”19

Overwhelming military dominance by the United States (and its Coalition partners) against Saddam’s armed forces did not prove decisive in achieving American strategic objectives in Iraq. In his address to the nation on 10 January 2007, President Bush stated that the United States had believed that the elections of 2005 (a stunning achievement) would help unify the Iraqi public. Combined with progress in training the Iraqi police and military, the administration had hoped the elections would mean a reduction in American forces. However, the President subsequently recognized that “. . . in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq—particularly in Baghdad—overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made.”20

Insurgency and sectarian violence remain a grave threat to stability, economic recovery, and the ability of the elected government to responsibly and effectively govern. The situation may not be nearly as dire as some pundits in the media would have the American public believe, and the surge (or perhaps the threat of a subsequent withdrawal of Coalition forces) may yet prove the catalyst for Iraqi national reconciliation. Nonetheless, there is certainly a long way to go before most Iraqi citizens will be living in a safe and secure environment under a broadly representative government.

Several participants at a RAND seminar in 2004 proposed an alternative explanation to the belief that a RMA was responsible for the rapid victory over Saddam’s army.21 They espoused that Saddam had planned for his army to initially melt away then rise to fight as guerillas against Coalition occupying forces; this strategy obviated the US technological superiority. Thus, even the rapid success of the “major combat phase” would not be evidence of a successful RMA because the war for control of Iraq was designed to be continued by guerillas and insurgents. Seymour Hersh offered a similar observation:

We’re told we are fighting an insurgency there. “Insurgency?” No way. They’re the people we went to war with: the Sunnis, the people we thought we beat. It’s not an insurgent movement; it’s the original war, now being fought on their terms.22

It is worth noting, however, that suggestions of a “melt away” strategy on the part of Saddam’s army are highly speculative. Virtually no evidence has emerged to indicate that Saddam even considered such a contingency, much less planned and put the pieces into place to continue the fight after his military was defeated. Indeed, it appears he was genuinely surprised when the Coalition routed his forces and attacked into Baghdad.23

Saddam did not expect the United States to risk the casualties inherent in an operation on urban terrain, and hamstrung his military commanders due to fears of an uprising or coup.24 It appears that the surprise deployment of

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the Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary fighters was a result of Saddam’s plans to control the Iraqi populace, not a Fabian strategy to defeat Coalition forces. Whether best described as insurgency, civil war, guerilla war, net-war, terrorism, or a combination of all five of these, the current adversaries in Iraq began their attacks as an ad hoc effort that has become increasingly well-organized and sophisticated. At least prior to “the surge,” the ability of our enemies to introduce additional combatants into the theater outpaced the US and Coalition force’s ability to capture or kill them.

Despite the lightning-quick defeat of Saddam’s army and the destruction of his regime, US and Coalition forces are no closer to creating a secure environment and forming a stable, democratic Iraqi government than might have been expected from a less capable but larger “low-tech” force. One might even argue that the belief in RMA has retarded progress in Iraq. Because fewer ground forces were necessary to defeat Saddam’s military, there were subsequently fewer units on-hand to conduct post-major combat operations—particularly counterinsurgency operations. How could a “successful RMA” have resulted in a reduced ability to achieve our strategic objectives?

A New Type of Warfare?

Analyzing trends in insurgency since the advent of Mao’s People’s War, Thomas Hammes has published a robust critique that illustrates how over reliance on technology at the expense of human capabilities has resulted in the long, hard-slog the United States is currently experiencing in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In The Sling and the Stone, Hammes argues that DOD is losing its warfighting dominance because it “did not want to deal with the manpower intensive, low-technology conflicts that were actually taking place around the world. It was much more comfortable to theorize about future high-technology conflicts with ‘near-peer competitors.’”25

According to Hammes, DOD planning documents intended to guide strategic planning for the future—such as Joint Vision 2010 and Joint Vision 2020—are built around third generation warfare (3GW). 3GW is combined arms maneuver warfare that attempts to eliminate an enemy’s will to fight by destroying his logistics and command and control capabilities. 3GW thinking was initiated by the Germans in World War I, but emerged to its zenith with the Nazi Blitzkrieg in World War II. It continued to develop through US military doctrine as a way of defeating numerically superior Soviet armies in Western Europe, being incorporated into concepts such as Air-Land Battle, and is reflected today in the latest Joint Vision expression of national military strategy.

Meanwhile, Hammes argues our most dangerous adversaries are successfully using fourth generation warfare (4GW) against us. He defines 4GW as using “all available networks—political, economic, social, and military—to

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convince the enemy’s political decisionmakers that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefit. It is an evolved form of insurgency.”26 He credits Mao’s strategy of People’s War as heralding 4GW.

Accordingly, “the fundamental strength of 4GW lies in the idea or message that is the heart of the concept.” This requires a detailed understanding of the history, culture, and other human and situational factors that cannot be addressed by technology alone. Yet instead of addressing the “complex political, economic, and social aspects of the conflicts we are currently facing,” current DOD transformation strategy focuses instead “on technological solutions to problems at the tactical-level of war.”27 Thus, the failure of the US national security establishment to evolve to 4GW has provided our adversaries the ability to overcome any tactical advantage we might have gained in 3GW. It also calls into question the ability of American forces to successfully perform what the US Army calls “operational art:” the ability to translate strategic aims into a logical series of tactical missions.28 The belief that warfare evolves in generational waves is a highly debatable hypothesis.29

Nonetheless, Hammes’ critical appraisal of DOD transformation efforts are well-taken. He notes: “Much to the surprise of the Joint Vision 2020 proponents, the insurgents have proven largely immune to our technology.”30 Even Antulio Echevarria, a harsh critic of 4GW theory, agrees that “the fundamental rub . . . is how to coordinate diverse kinds of power, each of which operates in a unique way and according to its own timeline, to achieve specific objectives, and to do so while avoiding at least the most egregious of unintended consequences.”31

The Real RMA?

Seven years ago David Tucker presciently raised concerns that an RMA would cause military capabilities to outpace interagency coordination and planning. He warned:

Rapid simultaneous engagement of the enemy will not always result in the simultaneous cessation of all hostilities. Disintegration may induce some of the enemy’s forces to surrender, but others will fight on in isolation as cohesive units, perhaps retreating to nearby urban areas, while others transition to guerrilla warfare. The military, therefore, will be conducting high-intensity operations in one spot, while in other places it mops up, provides humanitarian assistance, takes care of refugees, and implements the transition to a legitimate civilian authority, in these latter cases working closely with other agencies.32

True, the United States has demonstrated the ability to quickly crush an adversary’s numerically superior conventional military formations and depose an enemy regime through force of arms. However, this dramatic in-

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crease in high-tech military capability has not translated into an improved ability to achieve the strategic objectives that military power is intended to enable. Instead of improving the ability to achieve political aims, the unforeseen result of DOD’s current vision of an RMA is a tactically more dominant military in a time when traditional military force is not as useful as it used to be. Meanwhile the ability to apply the other elements of national power is left lagging.33

In On War, Carl von Clausewitz posited:

No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it. The former is its political purpose; the latter its operational objective. This is the governing principle which will set its course, prescribe the scale of means and effort which is required, and make its influence felt throughout down to the smallest operational detail.34

Unfortunately, DOD’s current approach to transformation has nurtured a belief that the tactical benefits of a technological-RMA would either eliminate the requirement to link tactical actions with military strategy and political policy, or would make operational art so simple it was a problem that would solve itself. The panoply of technology currently employed in Afghanistan and Iraq has not produced strategic victory.

Clever and determined adversaries, forced to cede the conventional battlefield, have turned to asymmetric attacks that have proven remarkably resilient against conventional combat operations. The US military may be losing ground in the area where it is most vulnerable: the ability to influence civilian populations and—in concert with other US government agencies, allies, and international organizations—to provide basic needs and economic growth while concurrently developing national political structures and governing capacity.

Even if the much-vaunted technology-RMA did occur, it ironically appears that military power alone—whether executed by air or ground forces—may now be less strategically decisive than has historically been the case. In virtually every war the United States won in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, defeating the enemy’s military and occupying his capital equaled strategic success and the achievement of political goals.35 Furthermore, in an era in which enemies recognize that the United States possesses tremendous military superiority, their logical response is to avoid traditional confrontation. Even at the tactical-level the value of military superiority may be limited in today’s operating environment.

Terry Pudas, the Acting Director of the Department of Defense Office of Force Transformation, outlined DOD’s goals for transformation:

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In information age operating environments, where rapid change and ambiguity are the norm, [the] competitive advantage often depends on the availability of multiple effective options. If US military forces can accelerate the rate of transformation to generate more actionable and effective options than potential opponents, narrow the range of potential successful actions that opponents believe are available to them, and maintain initiative by implementing effective options, then they will be able to impose overwhelming complexity on opposing decisionmakers.36

This conceptualization of improvements in relative military capability strongly depends upon adversaries who operate in hierarchical organizations, enemies that choose to engage in conventional warfare, and whose decisionmaking processes mirror those of the United States. In other words, enemies with armed forces similar to ours, enemies that fight the way we would like them to. The record to date in Afghanistan and Iraq shows that adversaries using asymmetric tactics and networked organizations have not been overwhelmed by the complexity of US and Coalition operations. Indeed, “overwhelming complexity” can only be imposed on those who choose to manage theater-wide efforts in a manner similar to modern armies. This concept is meaningless when applied against non-conventional forces with dispersed decisionmaking structures.

Rather than forcing the pace of the enemy’s decision cycle, one could instead argue that American efforts became reactive once conventional “kinetic” combat operations toppled the Taliban and Saddam. When terrorists and insurgents began to use improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers to attack, the United States appeared to react slowly in providing units better body armor and armored vehicles. As terrorists began to conduct high-profile attacks against Iraqi citizens as well as Coalition and Iraqi security forces, the United States was also slow in adopting a counterinsurgency strategy. The terrorists and insurgents control virtually no terrain in a military sense and have zero-chance of achieving their long-range political goals of returning the Bathists to power, reestablishing Sunni supremacy in Iraq, or creating a Wahabbi caliphate. They do, however, dominate the media to the point where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has publicly declared that the United States has lost the war in Iraq; as a significant portion of the Congress is clamoring for the withdrawal of American forces.37

In their critique of technology-centric transformation concepts, Richard Hooker, H. R. McMaster, and Dave Gray write that “war is grounded in the human condition—in the hopes, fears, pride, envy, prejudices, and passions of human beings organized into political communities and military bodies.”38 Welcome to the real RMA. This RMA is far different than most adherents and critics predicted a decade or two ago. Insurgents and terrorists

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have found their own versions of the corvus—the improvised explosive device, the suicide bomber, and the Internet—and have demonstrated that they know how to apply them against what they have identified as America’s strategic center of gravity; US political will. Fortunately, although our enemies have been able to stymie a number of our efforts in Iraq they remain unable to achieve their own strategic objectives.

The real RMA will not be purely military. It will be founded on the efforts of strategic thinkers, not tacticians, individuals capable of understanding and integrating all aspects of national power. This new RMA will not be realized until the United States develops an effective system of interagency strategy and operations with the ability to exercise all the elements of national power; including, but not limited to, the diplomatic, information, law enforcement, economic, and military aspects of power; elements of power that can dominate the asymmetric strategies of our enemies.


NOTES

The author wishes to thank Terrence Kelly, David Kilcullen, H. R. McMaster, Katherine Underwood, and Rick Waddell for their invaluable advice and assistance.

1. Mackubin Thomas Owens, “Transformation: The Changing Requirements for Victory on the Battlefield,” The Weekly Standard, 23 January 2006, 38.

2. The Acting Director of the Department of Defense Office of Force Transformation, Terry Pudas, has written that transformation has “replaced the earlier phrase, revolution in military affairs (RMA) in DOD. RMA connoted rapid, radical and uncontrolled change—an uncomfortable notion for many military professionals.” Further, the ambiguity of the word “transformation” was an advantage in consensus building. (Terry J. Pudas, “Disruptive Challenges and Accelerating Force Transformation,” Joint Force Quarterly, 42 (3d Quarter 2006), 47.)

3. See Adrian Goldsworthy, The Punic Wars (London, Eng.: Cassell, 2000).

4. Readers who desire a more thorough review of the various perspectives on RMA may wish to visit the Project on Defense Alternatives RMA page at http://www.comw.org/rma/index.html.

5. David C. Gompert, “The Information Revolution and U.S. National Security,” Naval War College Review, 51 (Autumn 1998), 30.

6. Adam J. Herbert, “Army Change, Air Force Change,” Air Force Magazine, 89 (March 2006), 37, http://www.afa.org/magazine/march2006/0306army.html.

7. Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., “Special Operations Forces After Kosovo,” Joint Force Quarterly, 28 (Spring/Summer 2001), 7.

8. See “Operation Allied Force,” 21 June 1999, http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/kosovo/ and “Kosovo: An Account of the Crisis,” http://www.kosovo.mod.uk/account/nato.htm.

9. The debate regarding airpower versus ground forces in Kosovo is extensive. For example, see the series of articles in Air Force Magazine Online, http://www.afa.org/magazine/perspectives/balkans.asp.

10. The efforts of the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo may have presaged the Northern Alliance’s role in defeating the Taliban.

11. Stephen Biddle, “Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare,” Foreign Affairs, 82 (March/April 2003), 31. Biddle notes, however, that “contrary to popular belief, there was plenty of close combat in Afghanistan,” 32.

12. Department of Defense Directive 3000.05, Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations, 28 November 2005, provides guidance for Department of Defense activities that support US government plans for stabilization, security, reconstruction, and transition operations, which lead to sustainable peace while advancing US interests.

13. CBS Evening News, “Iraq Faces Massive U.S. Missile Barrage,” 24 January 2003, http://www. cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/24/eveningnews/main537928.shtml.

14. See Eric Schmitt, “Pentagon Contradicts General on Iraq Occupation Force’s Size,” The New York Times, 28 February 2003, http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/attack/consequences/2003/0228pentagoncontra.htm.

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15. Max Boot, “The New American Way of War,” Foreign Affairs, 82 (July/August 2003), 44-45, http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20030701faessay15404/max-boot/the-new-american-way-of-war.html.

16. Steven Metz and Raymond Millen, “Intervention, Stabilization, and Transformation Operations: The Role of Landpower in the New Strategic Environment,” Parameters, 35 (Spring 2005), 43. Metz and Millen argue that the Army can no longer be satisfied with “simply defeating enemies on the battlefield” but must subsequently turn “them into nonbelligerents, allies, and friends,” 51.

17. Jim Garamone, “Rumsfeld Lists Operation Iraqi Freedom Aims, Objectives,” American Forces Press Service, 21 March 2003, http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=32403155.

18. Karin Brulliard, “Bombers Defy Security Push, Killing at Least 158 in Baghdad.” The Washington Post, 19 April 2007, A1; and CNN.com, “U.S. Commander Points to Progress in Parts of Iraq,” 8 June 2007, http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/06/07/petraeus.iraq/index.html.

19. Associated Press, “AP Interview: Now Critical of U.S., Former Iraqi Premier Appears to Want His Job Back,” International Herald Tribune, 31 March 2007, http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/04/01/africa/ME-GEN-Iraq-Allawi.php?page=1.

20. George W. Bush, “President’s Address to the Nation,” 10 January 2007, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070110-7.html.

21. “Post-Major Combat Operations in Iraq,” RAND Corporation seminar, Santa Monica, Calif., 16 November 2004.

22. Julian Sanchez, “Soundbite: Torture and Defeat,” interview with Seymour Hersh, Reason, February 2005, 15.

23. Amy Davidson, “How Iraq Came Undone,” interview with Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker Online, 15 November 2004, http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?online/041115on_onlineonly01.

24. See Harry Keisler, “The Invasion and Occupation of Iraq: Conversation with Michael Gordon,” 21 March 2006, Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley, http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people6/Gordon/gordon-con4.html; and Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray, “Saddam’s Delusions: The View from the Inside,” Foreign Affairs, 85 (May/June 2006), 2-26.

25. Thomas X. Hammes, The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century (Rpt.; St. Paul, Minn.: Zenith Press, 2006), xii. The seminal 4GW article was “The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation” by William S. Lind, Keith Nightengale, John F. Schmitt, Joseph W. Sutton, and Gary I. Wilson in The Marine Corps Gazette, 73 (October 1989), 22-26. Other 4GW theorists include Chet Richards (see Jesse Walker, “The New Generation of War: Defense Expert Chet Richards on Lebanon, Iraq, and the Future of the American Military,” Reason Online, 20 July 2006, http://www.reason.com/news/show/36974.html.

26. T. X. Hammes, “Fourth Generation Warfare Evolves, Fifth Emerges,” Military Review, 87 (May-June 2007), 14.

27. Hammes, The Sling and the Stone, 129, 191.

28. Ralph L. Allen, “Piercing the Veil of Operational Art,” Parameters, 25 (Summer 1995), 111-19.

29. The importance of an idea to rally the forces and encourage others to join one’s side is not a new development. Using threats or promises to change the interest calculations of enemy decisionmakers is as old as warfare itself.

30. Hammes, The Sling and the Stone, 189.

31. Antulio J. Echevarria II, Fourth-Generation War and Other Myths (Carlisle, Pa.: US Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, November 2005), 16.

32. David Tucker, “The RMA and the Interagency: Knowledge and Speed vs. Ignorance and Sloth?” Parameters, 30 (Autumn 2000), 67.

33. One indicator of transformation drift within DOD may be the activities of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Business Transformation, Paul Brinkley. Charged with reforming the Pentagon’s business operations by “working across the military services and defense agencies to drive rapid transformation of business processes and systems to ensure improved support to the warfighter and improved financial accountability,” Brinkley actually spends much of his time trying to revive Saddam-era state owned enterprises in Iraq. (See “Mr. Paul A. Brinkley,” Biography, http://www.defenselink.mil/bta/leadership/brinkley.html and Scott Kim, “Iraqi Business Restoration Progressing,” 27 February 2007, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10231&Itemid=128.

34. Quoted in Allen, 111.

35. Admittedly, this statement is somewhat tautological because political goals beyond defeating the enemy’s military were rarely conceived prior to the decision to go to war.

36. Pudas, 43.

37. CBS Evening News, “Senator Reid on Iraq: ‘This War Is Lost,’” 20 April 2007, http://www. cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/20/politics/main2709229.shtml.

38. Richard D. Hooker, Jr., H. R. McMaster, and Dave Gray, “Getting Transformation Right,” Joint Force Quarterly, 38 (3d Quarter 2005), 21-22.


Dr. Christopher M. Schnaubelt is the Deputy Director for National Security Affairs, Joint Strategic Planning and Assessment Office, US Embassy Baghdad, Iraq. A colonel in the Individual Ready Reserve, he is a graduate of the US Army War College and received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2004, he served in Baghdad as the Chief of Policy in the C-5 Directorate of Combined Joint Task Force-Seven.


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Reviewed 30 August 2007. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil