to Rapid Dominance
posture and capability of the United States of America are, today,
dominant. Simply put, there is no external adversary in the world
that can successfully challenge the extraordinary power of the
American military in either regional conflict or in "conventional"
war as we know it once the United States makes the commitment
to take whatever action may be needed. To be sure, the first phase
of a crisis may be the most difficultif an aggressor has
attacked and U.S. forces are not in place. However, it will still
be years, if not decades, before potential adversaries will be
able to deploy systems with a full panoply of capabilities that
are equivalent to or better than the aggregate strength of the
ships, aircraft, armored vehicles, and weapons systems in our
inventory. Even if an adversary could deploy similar systems,
then matching and overcoming the superb training and preparation
of American service personnel would still be a daunting task.
reality that our military dominance can and will extend for some
considerable time to come, provided we are prepared to use it,
why then is a re-examination of American defense posture and doctrine
important? The answers to this question involve (1) the changing
nature of the domestic and international environments; (2) the
complex nature of resolving inter and intra-state conflict that
falls outside conventional war, including peacekeeping, and countering
terrorism, crime, and the use of weapons of mass destruction;
(3) resource constraints; (4) defense infrastructure and technical
industrial bases raised on a large, continuous infusion of funding
now facing a future of austerity; and (5) the vast uncertainties
of the so-called social, economic, and information revolutions
that could check or counter many of the nation's assumptions as
well as public support currently underwriting defense.
It is clear
that these so-called grey areas involving non-traditional Operations
Other Than War (OOTW) and law enforcement tasks are growing and
pose difficult problems and challenges to American military forces,
especially when and where the use of force may be inappropriate
or simply may not work. The expansion of the role of UN forces
to nation-building in Somalia and its subsequent failure comes
to mind as an example of this danger. It is also arguable that
the formidable nature and huge technological lead of American
military capability could induce an adversary to move to a strategy
that attempted to circumvent all this fighting power through other
clever or agile means. The Vietnam War is a grim reminder of the
political nature of conflict and how our power was once outflanked.
Training, morale, and readiness to fight are perishable commodities
requiring both a generous expenditure of resources and careful
greatest constraints today to retaining the most dominant military
force in the world, paradoxically, may be in overcoming the inertia
of this success. We may be our own worst enemy.
Cold War when the danger was clear, the defense debate was often
fought over how to balance the so-called "strategy-force
structure-budget" formula. Today, that formula has expanded
to include "threat, strategy, force structure, budget, and
infrastructure." Without a "clear and present danger"
such as the Axis Powers in 1941 or, later, the Soviet Union to
coalesce public agreement on the threat, it is difficult to construct
a supporting strategy that can be effective either in setting
priorities or objectives. Hence, today's "two war" or
two nearly simultaneous Major Regional Contingency (MRC) strategy
has been criticized as strategically and financially excessive.
As noted by administration officials, the current force structure
does not meet the demands of the "two war," MRC strategy
and, in any event, the budget will not support the planned force
structure. Finally, it is widely recognized that the United States
possesses far more infrastructure such as bases and facilities
than it needs to support the current force, thereby draining scarce
resources away from fighting power. As a result, there is a substantial
defense imbalance that will erode fighting power.
its defense posture, the United States has adopted the doctrine
of employing "decisive or overwhelming force." This
doctrine reinforces American advantages in strategic mobility,
prepositioning, technology, training, and in fielding integrated
military systems to provide and retain superiority, and responds
to the minimum casualty and collateral damage criteria set first
in the Reagan Administration. The Revolution in Military Affairs
or RMA is cited as the phenomenon or process by which the United
States continues to exploit technology to maintain this decisive
force advantage, particularly in terms of achieving "dominant
battlefield awareness." Through this awareness, the United
States should be able to obtain perfect or near perfect information
on virtually all technical aspects of the battlefield and therefore
be able to defeat or destroy an adversary more effectively, with
fewer losses to ourselves and with a range of capabilities from
long-range precision strike to more effective close-in weapons.
further, an example is useful to focus some of the as yet unknowable
consequences of these broader realities, changes, and trends.
The deployment of American forces to Bosnia is a reaction to and
representation of major shifts occurring in the post-Cold War
world. With these shifts, this deployment is suggestive of what
may lie ahead for the use, relevance, and design of military force.
The legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then, the start of the
Cold War, caused the West to adopt policies for containing and
deterring the broad threat posed by the Soviet Union and its ideology.
Thermonuclear weapons, complemented over time by strong conventional
forces, threatened societal damage to Russia. Conventional forces
backed by tactical nuclear weapons were later required, in part,
to halt a massive Soviet ground attack in Europe and, in part,
to provide an alternative to (immediate) use of nuclear weapons.
First Armored Division, the principal American unit serving in
Bosnia is, in essence, the same force that fought so well in Desert
Storm and, for the bulk of the Cold War along with our other
units, had been designed to defend NATO against and then defeat
a numerically superior, armored and mechanized Soviet adversary
advancing across the plains of Germany. Now these troops, as well
as others from both sides of the former Iron Curtain, are engaged
in OOTW for which special training, rules of engagement, command
arrangements, and other support structures have been put in place
at short notice, few of which were even envisaged a few years
ago. These are also operations that, because of intense, instantaneous
media coverage, can have huge domestic political impact especially
if events go wrong.
not this armored division is the most optimally configured force
for such an operation is not relevant for the moment even though
this unit probably was the most appropriate for this task. However,
it is prudent to examine the consequences of changing tasks presaged
by Bosnia, in which the enemy is instability rather than an ideological
or regional adversary we are trying to contain or defeat and neutrality
on our part may be vital to the success of the mission. Do these
changes mean that we should alter our traditional approach to
the doctrine for and design of forces? If so, how? Are there alternative
or more effective ways and means to conduct these peacekeeping-related
operations? And, in this evaluation, are there alternative doctrines
we should consider to fight wars more effectively as we envisage
scenarios under the construct of the MRC?
With the end
of the USSR and absent a hostile Russian superpower, there is
no external threat to the existence or survival of the United
States as a nation and there will not be such an immediate threat
for some time to come. This means that there is a finite window
of opportunity when there is no external adversary threatening
the total existence of American society; that our forces are far
superior to any possible military adversary choosing to confront
us directly; and that, with innovative thought, we may be able
to create a more relevant, effective, and efficient means to ensure
for the common defense at the likely levels of future spending.
At the same
time that the Bosnia operation is underway, the fundamental changes
occurring at home and abroad must be addressed. The industrial
and technical base of the United States is changing profoundly.
The entrepreneurial and technical advantages of the American economy
were never greater and it is small business that is creating virtually
all new jobs and employment opportunities. Commercial technology
and products are turning over on ever shortening cycles. Performance,
especially in high-technology products, is improving and costs
are being driven downwards.
opposite trends are still found in the defense sector, where cost
is high and will create even tougher choices among competing programs,
especially as the budget shrinks. Cycle time to field new generation
capabilities is lengthening and performance, especially in computer
and information systems, is often obsolete on delivery. The defense
industrial base will continue to compress and it is not clear
that the necessary level of efficiencies or increases in effectiveness
in using this base can be identified and implemented, suggesting
further pressures on a defense budget that is only likely to be
question must be carefully examined of whether the military platforms
that served us so well in both cold and hot wars such as tanks,
fixed wing aircraft, and large surface ships and submarines represent
the most effective mix of numbers, technology, strategic mobility,
and fighting capability. Our national preference for "attrition"
and "force on forces" warfare continues to shape the
way we design and rationalize our military capability. Therefore,
it is no surprise that in dealing with the MRC, American doctrine,
in some ways, remains an extension of Cold War force planning.
While the magnitude and number of dangerous threats to the nation
have been remarkably reduced by the demise of the USSR, we continue
to use technology to fill traditional missions better rather than
to identify or produce new and more effective solutions for achieving
military and strategic/political objectives.
is much talk about "military revolutions" and winning
the "information war," what is generally meant in this
lexicon and discussion is translated into defense programs that
relate to accessing and "fusing" information across
command, control, intelligence, surveillance, target identification,
and precision strike technologies. What is most exciting among
these revolutions is the potential to achieve "dominant battlefield
awareness," that is, achieving the capability to have near-perfect
knowledge and information of the battlefield while depriving the
adversary of that capacity and producing "systems of systems"
for this purpose.
The near and
mid-term aims of these "revolutions" largely remain
directed at exploiting our advantages in firepower and on fielding
more effective ways of defeating an adversary's weapons systems
and infrastructure for using those systems. The doctrine of "decisive
or overwhelming force" is the conceptual and operational
underpinning for winning the next war based largely on this force-on-force
and attrition model, and winning the information war is vital
to this end. Few have asked whether the pattern of employing more
modern technology for traditional firepower solutions is the best
one and if there are alternative ways to achieve military objectives
more effectively and efficiently. In other words, can the idea
of dominant battlefield awareness be expanded doctrinally, operationally,
and in terms of fixing on alternative military, political, or
if realized as defined in this paper, would advance the military
revolution to new levels and possibly new dimensions. Rapid Dominance
extends across the entire "threat, strategy, force structure,
budget, infrastructure" formula with broad implications for
how we provide for the future common defense. Organization and
management of defense and defense resources should not be excluded
from this examination although, in this paper, they are not discussed
The aim of
Rapid Dominance is to affect the will, perception, and understanding
of the adversary to fit or respond to our strategic policy ends
through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe. Clearly, the traditional
military aim of destroying, defeating, or neutralizing the adversary's
military capability is a fundamental and necessary component of
Rapid Dominance. Our intent, however, is to field a range of capabilities
to induce sufficient Shock and Awe to render the adversary impotent.
This means that physical and psychological effects must be obtained.
would therefore provide the ability to control, on an immediate
basis, the entire region of operational interest and the environment,
broadly defined, in and around that area of interest. Beyond achieving
decisive force and dominant battlefield awareness, we envisage
Rapid Dominance producing a capability that can more effectively
and efficiently achieve the stated political or military objectives
underwriting the use of force by rendering the adversary completely
In Rapid Dominance,
"rapid" means the ability to move quickly before an
adversary can react. This notion of rapidity applies throughout
the spectrum of combat from pre-conflict deployment to all stages
of battle and conflict resolution.
means the ability to affect and dominate an adversary's will both
physically and psychologically. Physical dominance includes the
ability to destroy, disarm, disrupt, neutralize, and to render
impotent. Psychological dominance means the ability to destroy,
defeat, and neuter the will of an adversary to resist; or convince
the adversary to accept our terms and aims short of using force.
The target is the adversary's will, perception, and understanding.
The principal mechanism for achieving this dominance is through
imposing sufficient conditions of "Shock and Awe" on
the adversary to convince or compel it to accept our strategic
aims and military objectives. Clearly, deception, confusion, misinformation,
and disinformation, perhaps in massive amounts, must be employed.
The key objective
of Rapid Dominance is to impose this overwhelming level of Shock
and Awe against an adversary on an immediate or sufficiently timely
basis to paralyze its will to carry on. In crude terms, Rapid
Dominance would seize control of the environment and paralyze
or so overload an adversary's perceptions and understanding of
events that the enemy would be incapable of resistance at tactical
and strategic levels. An adversary would be rendered totally impotent
and vulnerable to our actions. To the degree that non-lethal weaponry
is useful, it would be incorporated in the ability to Shock and
Awe and achieve Rapid Dominance.
the magnitude of Shock and Awe Rapid Dominance seeks to impose
(in extreme cases) is the non-nuclear equivalent of the impact
that the atomic weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had
on the Japanese. The Japanese were prepared for suicidal resistance
until both nuclear bombs were used. The impact of those weapons
was sufficient to transform both the mindset of the average Japanese
citizen and the outlook of the leadership through this condition
of Shock and Awe. The Japanese simply could not comprehend the
destructive power carried by a single airplane. This incomprehension
produced a state of awe.
that, in a parallel manner, revolutionary potential in combining
new doctrine and existing technology can produce systems capable
of yielding this level of Shock and Awe. In most or many cases,
this Shock and Awe may not necessitate imposing the full destruction
of either nuclear weapons or advanced conventional technologies
but must be underwritten by the ability to do so.
Rapid Dominance by virtue of applying Shock and Awe at the appropriate
level or levels is the next step in the evolution of a doctrine
for replacing or complementing overwhelming force. By way of comparison,
we have summarized how we view the differences between the doctrines
of Rapid Dominance and Decisive Force in terms of basic elements
that apply to the objectives, uses of force, force size, scope,
speed, casualties, and technique. We recognize that there will
be debate over the relative utility and applicability of these
doctrines and readers are encouraged to participate.
the differences between the concepts of Rapid Dominance and Decisive
Force, it is important to define the terms as precisely as possible.
of achieving Rapid Dominance using Shock and Awe must be compared
with overwhelming force. "Rapid" implies the ability
to "own" the dimension of timemoving more quickly
than an opponent, operating within his decision cycle, and resolving
conflict favorably in a short period of time. "Dominance"
means the ability to control a situation totally.
must be all-encompassing. It will require the means to anticipate
and to counter all opposing moves. It will involve the capability
to deny an opponent things of critical value, and to convey the
unmistakable message that unconditional compliance is the only
available recourse. It will imply more than the direct application
of force. It will mean the ability to control the environment
and to master all levels of an opponent's activities to affect
will, perception, and understanding. This could include means
of communication, transportation, food production, water supply,
and other aspects of infrastructure as well as the denial of military
responses. Deception, misinformation, and disinformation are key
components in this assault on the will and understanding of the
achieved at extraordinary speed and across tactical, strategic,
and political levels will destroy the will to resist. With Rapid
Dominance, the goal is to use our power with such compellance
that even the strongest of wills will be awed. Rapid Dominance
will strive to achieve a dominance that is so complete and victory
is so swift, that an adversary's losses in both manpower and material
could be relatively light, and yet the message is so unmistakable
that resistance would be seen as futile.
Force," on the other hand, implies delivering massive enough
force to prevail. Decisive means using force with plenty of margin
for error. Force implies a traditional "force-on-force"
and attrition approach. This concept does not exclude psychological
and other complementary damage imposition techniques to enhance
the application of force; they have been used throughout the history
of warfare. But such non-destructive means would have an ancillary
role. Military force would be applied in a purer form and targeted
primarily against the military capabilities of an opponent. Time
is not always an essential component. As in Desert Shield/Storm,
enough time would have to be allowed to assemble an overwhelming
force. Such a luxury is not always feasible.
become clearer if broken down into their essential elements:
the adversary's will, perceptions, and understanding
militarily and decisively against a set of opposing capabilities
defined by the MRC
the adversary's will, perceptions, and understanding and
literally make an adversary impotent to act or react
ability to prevail militarily over an opponent's forces
and based against the adversary's capabilities
be smaller than opposition, but with decisive edge in
technology, training, and technique
highly trained, and well-equipped. Materially overwhelming
against force (and supporting capability)
be relatively few in number on both sides
higher on both sides
shock, unnerve, deny, destroy
destruction of military capability. Attrition applicable
in some situations
categories of core characteristics and capabilities have been
identified that Rapid Dominance-configured mission capability
packages must embrace. These are identified briefly and discussed
in later chapters.
Dominance seeks to maximize knowledge of the environment,
of the adversary, and of our own forces on political, strategic,
economic, and military/operational levels. On one hand, we want
to get into the minds of the adversary far more deeply than we
have in the past. Beyond operational intelligence required for
battlefield awareness, Rapid Dominance means cultural understanding
of the adversary in ways that will affect both ours and their
planning and the outcome of the operation at all appropriate tactical
and strategic levels.
Dominance must achieve rapidity in the sense of timeliness.
Rapid Dominance must have capabilities that can be applied swiftly
and relatively faster than an adversary's.
Dominance seeks to achieve total control of the environment
from complete "signature management" of both our and
the adversary's information and intelligence to more discrete
means to deceive, disguise, and misinform.
Dominance aims to achieve new levels of operational competence
that can virtually institutionalize "brilliance."
In some cases, this may mean changing the longstanding principle
of military centralization and empowering individual soldiers,
sailors, and airmen to be crucial components in applying and directing
the application of force.
As we move
to turn this concept into specific doctrine and capabilities for
future evaluation, there is another emerging reality to consider.
If the commercial-economic sector is transforming at the current
rate and breadth, it could be that, over the course of many years,
the defense industrial base would follow suit, or face irrelevance
and extinction. Clearly, there are certain areas in defense which
will never or may never be eliminated or replaced. Nuclear systems
are a current example.
trend of commercial dominance play out, it may mean that military
force design and procurement will become dependent on the private
sector and commercial technology. Rapid Dominance is a first conceptual
step to deal with this possibility.
of this paper is to outline the beginnings of the concept of Rapid
Dominance, its concentration on strategy, technology and innovation,
and its focus on Shock and Awe. Based on this, subsequent steps
will involve expanding mission capability packages concepts consisting
of operations harmonized with doctrine, organization, and systems
and then move on to field prototype systems for further test and
evaluation as advanced concept technology demonstrations.
Chapter 1. Background and Basis
Table of Contents