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World View: The 1995 Strategic Assessment from the Strategic Studies Institute

Edited by Dr. Earl H. Tilford Jr.. | February 1995

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Each January the regional analysts at the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), U.S. Army War College assess global trends that are likely to determine the state of the world through the next decade. From these assessments study proposals are devised which focus on those issues and trends impacting on the requirements for maintaining America's Army as a strategic force during the coming years.

In 1995, the analysts at SSI estimate that 14 major determinants will significantly influence the Army's posture, U.S. interests, and national military strategy:

  • The debate between the services pertaining to roles and missions will continue. Fiscal constraints will necessarily exacerbate the competition over roles and missions as each service tries to define its parameters in the wake of political change, an uncertain and constantly evolving international situation, and the ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).
  • The Army will articulate and refine its vision as a strategic force for the 21st century as it re-engineers itself into Force XXI.
  • Fiscal constraints will also continue to drive national priorities. Added to the budgetary restraints will be the uncertainties accompanying the changes in the political leadership in Congress where Republicans have replaced Democrats as chairs of all committees in both the House and Senate.
  • U.S. forces will continue to be used in Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). However, ongoing emphasis on peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations in consonance with United Nations and other coalition partners will cause the debate on the efficacy of this kind of use of U.S. force to intensify.
  • The Caribbean will remain troublesome as the political and economic crisis in Cuba deepens. In Haiti, rising expectations will not be matched with socioeconomic progress and frustrations could well foster violence as the time for withdrawal of U.N. peacekeeping forces nears.
  • Russia will continue its arduous road to democracy while facing challenges presented by ethnic and religious inspired violence, political unrest, economic hardship, and a growing criminal element. Russian use of force in peacekeeping operations in the Caucasus and elsewhere along the southwestern frontiers of the former Soviet Union may well increase. Those factions within the Russian political and military hierarchy which continue to emphasize Russia's need to play the role of a major power are likely to grow in influence.
  • The Russian invasion of the breakaway republic of Chechnya in December 1994 has raised doubts about the future of Russian democracy. The invasion has undermined not only Russia's prestige abroad, but also threatens to crumble the foundations of the post-Communist Russian state itself.
  • The effects of the RMA will become more obvious as the diffusion of political, economic, technical, and military power in a multipolar world makes it possible for states which were once militarily inconsequential and/or for terrorist groups to challenge peace in ways unanticipated at the end of the last decade.
  • The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will continue to present a daunting challenge, both by the acquisition of technological capability to engineer and produce advanced conventional, nuclear, and chemical/biological weapons, and by their availability from stockpiles in the former Soviet Union.
  • Ethnicity and religion have supplanted ideology as social forces most likely to promote violence. These forces are challenging established institutions such as national governments and old alliances like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • The continuing crisis in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia, will threaten to undermine European stability and unity. Western Europe will look to the United States to provide more military force, and debates over the extent of the use of force--and what kind of force should be used--will grow. If the peace that former President Jimmy Carter bartered does not take hold,and if Serbian forces go on the march again, the United States could find itself under pressure to increase its military role in the Balkans, almost certainly through expanded air strikes and then, possibly, with ground forces.
  • Despite progress toward peace between Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Jordan, the Middle East remains volatile. In 1995, the focus will be on the roles of both the United States and Syria as the peace process moves agonizingly forward.
  • In Asia the need for regional security and accommodation remains even as North Korea and the United States seem to have reached an agreement over nuclear issues. Challenges to peace may arise in the Paracel Islands and in the ongoing and uneven relationship between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.
  • A significant chance for recidivism in Somalia exists. The last American troops were withdrawn in March 1994, and the United Nations Security Council set March 1995 as the deadline for elections, the establishment of a legitimate government, and the withdrawal of U.N. troops. The first two objectives will probably not be met and the troop withdrawal will likely bring renewed fighting.

The world of 1995 will be just as unpredictable and potentially dangerous as the world of 1994. Last January, the major deployments of U.S. military forces to Rwanda, Haiti, and back to Kuwait were unforeseen. It is nearly certain that unanticipated events will present new challenges in the months ahead.

Bosnia, the Korean Peninsula, the Caribbean, and the continuing conflicts along the southwestern fringes of the former Soviet Union present diverse political and military challenges as the United States endeavors to define its role in the new world order. As fiscal realities drive a declining defense budget the senior leadership of the Army will have to make difficult choices between readiness and modernization during the current controversy over roles and missions even as the Army restructures itself into Force XXI.