Yet while Weigley popularized the phrase 'the American way of war', the basic .. in the 'realist' school of international relations which is generally dated at least as internet can be traced back to a Pentagon-backed project to link together. Jay Luvaas; Russell F. Weigley. The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. (The Wars of the United. Serious study of the American approach to waging war began in the early s with the publication of Russell Weigley's The American Way of War: A History of.
Like the Air Force, Navy theorists were fascinated by the possibilities of the 'information age' and the vision of forces dispersed across the globe concentrating their military power to quickly overwhelm opposition.
Its proponents argued that new technology provided a "transparent battlefield" in which information could flow instantly between the commander and his tactical units, and in which the enemy's positions and movements would be instantly identified and targeted. Although Navy and Air Force advocates disagreed on which service should be predominant, both Effects Based Operations and Network Centric Warfare shared essentially the same vision of scientific warfare in which American military forces were so 'super empowered' that the enemy was virtually powerless.
From the beginning, the attraction of the New American Way of War was in part ideological. The military reformers claimed the United States was in danger, and if it failed to grasp the opportunities offered by the Information Revolution, its enemies would not. They warned that history revealed numerous examples of great nations brought to ruin by more adaptive opponents.
One particular historical comparison was made over and over. Americans must either embrace the blitzkrieg or the Maginot Line. This became such a commonplace that at the Army War College inI heard one student remark that if he was ever in France in and saw a German tank he now knew exactly what to do. But as Thomas Barnett's declaration, written at the height of the Bush Era's military adventurism makes clear, its proponents redefined the American Way of War in nakedly ideological terms—as a means to execute their blueprint for United States global hegemony.
Inmuch of the reformers' agenda was codified in the United States' Department of Defense's Vision As this slide from the Vision brochure illustrates, "information superiority" and "technological innovations" would generate four 'effects': This next slide shows how information superiority and new technologies allow American forces to engage in "dominant maneuver.
This leads to "asymmetric leverage" and the overturning of the enemy's strategy. And, once again, the enemy is portrayed in Gulf War terms as a mechanized force isolated in the desert. There are no civilians, hospitals, schools, or other nuisances to hinder the full application of American firepower. At its simplest, Vision articulated a view that warfare is largely a managerial process in which the primary strategic problem is the identification and destruction of targets.
As this slide on "Precision Engagement" shows, Vision and the prophets of the New American Way of War defined "military effects" in only the most immediate tactical terms.
They did not discuss, or even mention, the effect of destroying military forces and government control in one-party dictatorships or tribal coalitions. But these were the very "failed states" predicted by the United States' national security strategy as the most likely places for American forces to be deployed.
Nor did they foresee the consequence of creating an American military force structure organized, equipped, and trained exclusively for quick, precise wars. For all their claims that they alone understood the nature of modern warfare, they failed to appreciate that if the New American Way of War failed to achieve a rapid decision, the result would be an indecisive, costly war of attrition. Vision became the basis for service 'transformation' plans.
For the Navy and Air Force, it was largely seen as confirming existing ideas and procurement plans. But for the US Army,Vision launched the effort to scrap the Cold War arsenal and create an entire new armory with all the firepower and protection of mechanized forces and all the mobility of light forces. All initiatives were equally important and not only reinforced each other but would prove equally beneficial.
In my view, this transformation plan illustrates two points worth noting about the New American Way of War. First of all, marketing was in many ways more important than strategy.
Second, the Transformation Plan conformed to the New American Way of War's 'one-size-fits-all' vision of the future battlefield. There was no appreciation that the US Army might be called on for nation building, counterinsurgency, or humanitarian interventions.
Donald Rumsfeld, who became Secretary of Defense inembraced the New American Way of War with a fervor that shocked even some of its supporters. In what some described as a "hostile takeover" he waged an all-out offensive against military leaders he viewed as too set in the patterns of the past.
His article in Foreign Affairs, written shortly after the Afghanistan invasion, hailed this operation as "a revolution in military affairs" that proved his "transformation" program was both necessary and working.
He also identified the lessons of the Afghanistan war as showing the need for seamless communications, accepting allied assistance, defending the United States by preventative attack, and—perhaps most important—telling the truth to the American people. Both the promise and the flaws of the New American Way of War became apparent during the Bush Administration's self-proclaimed Global War on Terror or GWOTtogether with the use of such controversial methods as drones, assassinations, human rights abuses, the imprisonment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo, and so forth.
The American Way of War in History and Politics
In the initial flush of rapid victories in both Afghanistan and Iraq, culminating in the capture of the capital cities and the destruction of conventional military forces, right wing commentators proclaimed the dawning of a new age of national greatness implemented and enforced by the New American Way of War.
In a article, Thomas Barnett outlined " Rules for the New American Way of War" that included the right of preventative warfare, the preservation of the global economic system, and a virtual blank check for American military interventions. Max Boot's article, "The New American Way of War," praised Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for dragging the US armed forces into the 21st century and declared that the conquest of Iraq "must rank as one of the signal achievements in military history," comparing favorably to the "gold standard" of the German's blitzkrieg.
When the occupations quickly turned into insurgencies or civil wars, some of these same writers shifted into the camp of General David Petraeus, whom they praised as an anti-Rumsfeld "insurgent" whose counterinsurgency strategy was yet another transformation of the American Way of War.
The triumphalist chest beating of both the Bush Administration and its supporters over Iraq and Afghanistan soon collapsed, and some former acolytes morphed into harsh critics. For the most part, their primary complaints were the military's failure to fully actualize their vision of war and their increasing dissatisfaction with the alleged beneficiaries of American intervention—the Iraqis and the Afghans. Perhaps the most interesting critique has come from conservative commentator Andrew Bacevich.
The American Way of War
He identified a fundamental disconnect between the political and military leaders that created a vacuum in which tactical excellence and imperialist ideology, not strategy, dictated American military adventurism. In contrast, much of the leftist critique is derivative in both its tone and assumptions, even to having Vietnam-era public intellectuals such as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky reviving their decades-old criticism of the dangers of American imperialism, capitalism, and so forth.
Very few of these writers displayed even a fundamental appreciation of military realities, national strategy, or the armed forces. Their message was to the already converted, not to the rational, informed reader. At its worst, it consisted of little more than incoherent ranting. Thus on both the left and the right the politicized dialogue on the New American Way of War resulted in very little of substance.
What is the state of the debate at present? Despite the generally pessimistic tone of this lecture, there are some grounds for optimism. The recent Army Operational Concept rejects much of the scientific way of war that appeared in Vision and Effects Based Operations.
It grapples with the problem of achieving military success in a "complex world". In sharp contrast to the Revolution in Military Affairs literature, it no longer finds the solution in technology. It recognizes that military and political goals can seldom be achieved by precise targeting.
Perhaps most important, it acknowledges that the "enemy gets a vote" in the nature of the conflict. I am rather optimistic that as the debate has diminished in fervor, it has benefitted in breadth and scholarship. I believe that in the next few years, students of American military affairs will make even more substantial contributions.
What directions might some of these new approaches to the American Way of War take? I will end my remarks with some suggestions. First, I would like to see scholars take a more international and comparative perspective. As this lecture has suggested, the argument for American exceptionalism based on the conduct of war has often rested on "cherry picking" examples and ignoring a great deal of contradictory evidence.
Secondly, I am encouraged by the recent trends to no longer define the American Way of War solely as the conduct of wartime operations, but to look into such non-combat areas as military thought, civil-military relations, and the social composition of the armed forces.
The American Way of War in History and Politics
One particularly interesting area might be how the military, media, and civilian leaders have marketed war to the American public. The 'selling' of war and the armed forces is a fascinating topic that has too often been left to cultural historians who do not understand the military. How can today's stereotypes of the United States armed forces be reconciled with the nation's insistence in that Elvis Presley serve in the army? Reconstruction and Pacification Quiz 1 on Sept.
What was the U. Army mainly successful or unsuccessful as a constabulary force?
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Why or why not? How did it affect these conflicts? How did these conflicts affect the American way of war? Meiser, Power and Restraint: Reyeg and Ned B. What was the goal of the Philippine insurgents? How did they fight? How did Americans fight? Banana Wars Required Readings for Oct. Johns Hopkins University Press, Why did we fight? What are the similarities and differences in the response by the Army and Marines to their experience with small wars? Would we have entered the war if Japan had not attacked Pearl Harbor?
How did this approach evolve over time? What are the similarities and differences with the pre-WWII approach? Were the insurgencies that emerged after WWII mainly communist or anti-colonial? Vietnam War Required Readings for Nov. How can we reconcile them? Rollback Required Reading for Nov. What was the same? How a relief mission ended in a firefight. What lessons should the US have learned? How did it affect the operation in Somalia? Afghanistan Required Reading for Nov.
What is the likelihood of American participation in small wars in the coming decades? USAWC, What is the meaning of victory? Final Quiz, Monday, December 14,8: Additional Reading Thomas G. Routledge, Urban Somali Guerrillas in Mogadishu: The University of Portland is a scholarly community dedicated to the discovery, investigation, and dissemination of truth, and to the development of the whole person.
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They see a connection between the attraction of a destructive cause like that of Osama bin Laden for the disaffected peoples of the world and the domination of the United States in cultural and economic terms. Some claim outright, and many more suspect, that United States policies, foreign, economic, and cultural—in fact the dominance of the United States in all these areas—has led to terrorist acts, as people with no political voice that counts in the United States, and few military means, seek to correct these lacks.
They will speak of an effective deterrence. They can also speak with brutal frankness about the connection between American business expansion and American military might. Being able to dominate, they are not required to seek out negotiating strategies and angles.
In Vietnam, the dominant United States did not dominate. Might lost its way. Senior officers, who were lieutenants and captains then, are determined not to make the same mistakes again.
The first of these political mistakes of the war, which both caused and aggravated military difficulties, was that at times there was no viable South Vietnamese government fighting the war with the United States.
As the United States took more and more responsibility for prosecuting the war, it took more and more responsibility for running the country. Withdrawing from the war required patching together South Vietnamese institutions. The American military consciously tries to avoid this problem now.
Secondly, military authorities today, insist that they cannot and will not prosecute a war that the people of the United States do not support.
The military will seemingly use every means at its disposal to obtain and retain that popular support; it will use all the cultural tactics at its disposal to maintain that support. But the military establishment does not wish to find itself separated from the emotional and material base of the country again. Vietnam was a long and indecisive war providing ample time for relations between army and civil population to degrade.
The United States Army will try to win quickly. General Westmoreland decided upon a strategy of attrition. This strategy of attrition separated American military cultural strategy from its historical roots in a strategy of decisive annihilation, at the same time that it separated strategy from the military cultural tactics of deploying death, as we will see.
It is worth considering these three errors of Vietnam strategy because they have left such a large impact on the military culture of the United States today. American military men regretted that decision at the time, out of a sense of frustration when total victory seemed possible. Since then official regrets are expressed only in strictly military terms: The advance towards the Afghan capital stopped, giving time for Pashtun leaders, and others to defect from the Taliban.
The reason seems clear. Without sufficient Pashtun support on the side of the anti-Taliban forces, it is unlikely that any coalition of ethnic groups will be able to govern Afghanistan. No American military man imagines that outside authority will be able to impose a coalition on the Afghans.
The soldiers of the Afghanistan Northern Alliance eventually did enter Kabul, and continued their advances against the requests of American military authorities, who must now hope that this show of strength and unity presages the unexpected emergence of a Northern Alliance capable of ruling. But above all, the engagements must be successful, brief, decisive, and cost as little as possible in lives.
As elements in a military culture none of this seems surprising, and it would be hard to fault any of these objectives once the necessity for war has been admitted. The surprise must be in the willingness of other military cultures to expend lives in a profligate way for ill-defined goals over a long period of time.
In Vietnam, the strategy of attrition eventually adopted by General Westmoreland, had done exactly that. Such a plan might at some time have lead [led] to the annihilation of the enemy, but at a great cost to both sides and not in a decisive action. Dulles especially wished to avoid committing American troops to Southeast Asia, where the French were engaged against the Viet Minh.
Kissinger in his book, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, and military men too, notably General Maxwell Taylor, developed various ways in which American containment of communism could match aggressions with graduated responses and limited aims.
These strategists of limited war aims and means called for a significant break with an American military tradition of a strategy of annihilation so characteristic of the American Civil War and successful American military planning in World War II. At his former position at the head of the Ford Motor Company, McNamara had been known for quantitative systems analysis. In Vietnam, under the quantitative management of McNamara, flexible response became calibrated attrition measured with kill ratios and body counts.
If the United States forces could kill enough of the enemy while losing few enough of their own, eventually the communists would run out of men, or so went the strategic calculations of McNamara and Westmoreland. In those days of limited war and counter-insurgency, it had sounded too much like the promotion of unlimited war, which now necessarily meant the use of nuclear weapons. Military strategy can no longer be thought of, as it could be for some countries in some areas, as the science of military victory.
It is now equally, if not more, the art of coercion, of intimidation and deterrence It is the power to hurt, not military strength in the traditional sense, that inhere in our most impressive military capabilities at the present time Certainly death rests near the heart of all military thought now and throughout history.
The strategy of attrition and counting in the Vietnam war disgusted a generation of military because it used death in so many perverse ways. These men now command the United States Army. The body counting and kill ratios of the Vietnam war encouraged officers to exaggerate the importance of enemy soldiers their units had killed and the quantity and quality of enemy equipment they had destroyed, while minimizing the importance of their own losses.
If a unit has an efficient kill ratio, the suspicion arises that it is a unit of barbarians.
But if the unit has a low, inefficient ratio, if, for example, it loses more men than it kills, those men have been lost for nothing. In either case the training, patriotism, physical and mental health, bravery and sacrifice of American soldiers along with the leadership of their officers either surviving or lost on the field of attrition, could count for nothing in the slow attainment of victory counted only in enemy dead.
This strategy that sapped the motivation out of individuals doing the fighting, encouraged officers to miscount while it revolted people back in the United States and allowed for a very long war.
When your own soldiers are either successful barbarians or forgotten canon-fodder, the national motivation cannot be maintained. Wylie, in the aftermath of Vietnam, considered that while atomic weapons were too destructive to be used, limited war must eventually be lost by a country like the United States. An economically and politically dominant country, like the United States, could never wish to advance policy through violence, but only to preserve the status quo against better motivated foes who had more to gain in any limited engagement.
In their reforms, they would find a new way to wage war successfully. This author, at least, has found none for the Gulf War. Figures on enemy dead are vague, to say the least. The preponderant number of American military personnel killed in this war,were of course those who died when the commercial airliner was crashed into the Pentagon.
At a memorial service held outside the building opposite the side where the damage had been done, speeches were made by President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others.
The contrast with the era of Robert McNamara and his quantitative systems analysis approach to winning Vietnam efficiently could not be greater. The intangibles of loyalty and esprit de corps are constantly reinforced.