Alliance and Coalition Warfare


© 1993 Wayne A. Silkett

From Parameters, Summer 1993, pp. 74-85.
"I was about ready to agree with Napoleon's conclusion that it is better to fight allies than to be one of them." -- Lieutenant General Mark Clark, 1944
How can anyone examine the complex, confusing, fascinating record of the Napoleonic era without reflecting upon the strange array of full-time, part-time, and sometime friends, allies, and enemies--all variously siding with or against each other? During the turbulent Napoleonic wars (1792-1815), seven coalitions formed at one time or another against France, few boasting the same or even most of the same participants. For various reasons, some combatants, notably Austria, Prussia, Spain, and Russia, even changed sides several times during the period.[1] The first startling feature of alliances and coalitions, then, is their composition. But an even more startling feature is that once formed, alliances often work.

Like Thomas Jefferson, political purists may well long for "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none."[2] Pragmatists, however ruefully, know differently, tending to find truth in Charles Dudley Warner's old saw, "Politics makes strange bedfellows."[3] Accordingly, the cooperation implicit in an alliance is not necessarily willing. It is usually reluctant at best, sometimes even coerced. Only the most wishful-thinking observer substitutes "friendship" for "interest" when addressing the roots of alliances.[4]

What better explains this century's nefarious on-again, off-again love match between the Germans and Russians? They were bitter foes in World War I yet cooperative allies from 1921 to 1932. Jointly, secretly, and in violation of the Versailles Treaty, they developed poison gases, tanks, aircraft, and combined-arms techniques. This "fierce friendship"[5] eventually dissolved into another, even fiercer war. But before it did, Germany and Russia signed a nonaggression treaty and divided Poland in 1939; in that same year Russia provided Germany a temporary naval base on Soviet territory near Murmansk (good until Germany obtained better-situated bases in Norway a year later).[6] In 1940 Soviet icebreakers broke the way through the Arctic's northeast passage for a German armed merchant cruiser en route to the Pacific,[7] and in November 1940 Germany even invited the Soviet Union to join the Axis.[8] Clearly, political interests imply no affection or even affinity.

We should begin with the understanding that alliances and coalitions are not the same. From a military standpoint, a coalition is an informal agreement for common action between two or more nations.[9] An alliance, on the other hand, is a more formal arrangement for broad, long-term objectives.[10] In the military vocabulary, both require combined operations--meaning operations involving two or more forces or agencies of two or more allies.[11]

Necessity drives nations to form coalitions, as going it alone normally imposes serious limitations. Individual nations are usually insufficiently capable of addressing a given threat. Mobilization resources or time may not be available, and few factors contribute to public legitimacy like a coalition effort.[12]

Alliances and coalitions hardly began with the Napoleonic era. Historically, they have been the rule, not the exception. When the Israelites fought the worshippers of Baal about 1100 B.C., Gideon's side included the Abiezrites and the Clan of Mannassa against Zebah and Zalmunna's Midianites, Amelekites, and Arabians.[13] Both sides in the Trojan War were coalitions, including even, in Homer's account, heavenly allies for each. When Alexander the Great fought in Persia, he arrayed the Hellenic League against Darius III's Persians, Scythians, Parthians, Yrcanthians, Bactrians, and Chaldeons.[14] On the part of the United States, save for the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, and Spanish-American War, all American wars and conflicts--including the Cold War--have been coalition efforts.[15] The degree of integration, unity, and cohesion has varied widely, but all were coalitions and several were even alliance efforts.[16]

The 1990-91 Gulf War provides the most recent example of a substantial and successful coalition. There, 37 nations eventually provided support for the coalition cause. Once coalition aims were achieved, the coalition disbanded. NATO, on the other hand, provides the most recent, most enduring example of an alliance. Created in 1949 as a bar to Soviet aggression, NATO has enjoyed expansion (from 12 to 16 members), endured crisis (Greece's strained relations with NATO allies, 1980-83), survived defection (France's 1966 withdrawal from the integrated military structure), and weathered endless storms of debate, deliberation, and delay. Even today, American military strategy continues to rely on collective security, and US deterrence and warfighting doctrine rely on "working with our allies and friends in regional and international coalitions, to include operations as part of the United Nations."[17]

To be sure, coalition and alliance efforts merit mixed reviews, particularly in the area of unity of effort and command. During World War I, on the Allied side were France, the British Empire, Russia, Italy, and eventually the United States; on the Central Powers' side, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. The Allies never achieved full unity of command. From the beginning of the war, mutual Anglo-French distrust and age-old animosities prevented any unity of command and even hampered cooperation and coordination. True, in April 1918 the Beauvais Agreement entrusted strategic direction of military operations to French Marshal Ferdinand Foch. But the agreement left tactical employment to national commanders and allowed those commanders the right of appeal. Given the Allied strategic setting at this time--America was in the war but still forming an army, while Russia, in the wake of 6.6 million casualties and the Bolshevik Revolution, was out--this arrangement was not much of an improvement.

The United States entered World War I without specific political objectives, treaties, or military alliance arrangements. President Woodrow Wilson, seeking not to prematurely link, nor bind, the United States to any stated or implied Allied war aims (although even by April 1917, there were precious few of them) decided to make the United States an "associate" rather than an "ally." This legalistic distinction provided time for him to determine just what American objectives would be.[18] In January 1918 he grandly announced these--his Fourteen Points--as a peace proposal. In the military arena, US General John Pershing resisted efforts to employ American forces as piecemeal fillers among French and British formations, seeking instead to preserve an integral American field army.[19]

If the Allied cause lacked unity of effort and boasted little integration, the same cannot be said for the Central Powers. Beginning with Turkey's official entry into the war on Germany's side in October 1914 (their actual alliance, however, dated from 2 August 1914), German officers came to occupy a remarkable number of important posts in the Turkish army. Eventually German officers commanded one Turk army group out of two, four armies out of ten, five corps, and 12 divisions, while 13 Germans served as army group or army chiefs of staff.[20] During the Turkish army's most celebrated and successful campaign, Gallipoli, initial Turk defenses found its Fifth Army, one of its two corps and two of six divisions commanded by Germans while all troops were Turkish. The German-Turkish experience, however, was unique and not duplicated between Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Not only was the Austro-Hungarian Empire weak, its ethnic diversity made national unity of effort, let alone coalition unity, all but impossible. And if internal diversity created one set of problems (in 1914, announcement of mobilization had to be posted in 15 different languages!), widespread and long-standing bad feeling toward the German ally manifested itself in unusual ways. For example, German-speaking Austro-Hungarian officers, whether communicating in German or any other imperial tongue, could be ejected from the officer corps if they "behaved with German arrogance."[21]

During World War II, coalition efforts were even more common than during World War I, and--for the Allies--much more successful. The American Fifth Army in Italy represents the best American, and probably the best Allied, coalition experience of the war. Non-US components composed almost half its manpower. Though not all assigned at the same time, Fifth Army fielded three US corps (11 divisions), two British and one Commonwealth corps (six British, one New Zealand, one South African, and three Indian divisions), a French corps (one French, one Algerian, and two Moroccan divisions), two Italian combat groups, and a Brazilian division.[22] Difficulties--logistics, language, and doctrine among them--were substantial, to be sure, but not insurmountable.

On the Axis side, Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936. Aimed at thwarting the spread of Soviet communism, this pact was annulled in August 1939 when Germany unilaterally, and without consultation with Japan, signed a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union. In September 1940, the Tripartite Pact linked Germany, Italy, and Japan, but for all practical purposes only Germany and Italy cooperated to any significant degree and then only until Italy's surrender in September 1943.[23] Eventually, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Finland fought on the German side (Franco's fascist Spain also contributed one division[24]). Except for Finland, the non-German Axis partners suffered from uneven training at all levels, utterly inadequate equipment, language problems, and huge differences in national character, fighting spirit, and political views. To get the best out of her World War II allies, Germany relied on an extensive liaison system down to division level and also employed "corset stays"--German units in reserve positions behind allied formations, intended to intervene as the tactical situation demanded.[25]

By far Germany's greatest allied success was with Finland. This was largely the result of Finland's antagonism against Russia as a result of their 1939-40 Winter War, a long-standing military relationship with Germany, and the status of German as the principal second language in Finland. Even so, the Finns shared no common strategic goals with the Germans, the former seeking return of territory lost in the Winter War, the latter seeking destruction of the Soviet state.

Despite poorly known, misunderstood, and ignored aspects of the Korean War, it, too, exemplifies a successful coalition. Sixteen nations eventually participated in the Korean War under the United Nations flag. All UN units acted in concert with American and South Korean forces, most of them attaching their formations to American divisions. And if the military difficulties of non-American battalions serving with American divisions--difficulties of language, weapons, training, readiness, and doctrine--were often pronounced, the political value and impact more than compensated.[26] The Vietnam War only a few years later saw little of the Korean War's unity, cohesion, and multilateral participation.

Practical necessity dictates most coalitions. Once established, a coalition normally requires coordination of effort to achieve common political, economic, and social objectives; agreed strategic plans to achieve military objectives; and, of course, unity of command. During World War II and the Korean War, these requirements largely were met. During the Vietnam War, they largely were not.

Although unity of command is important to coalition military success, this does not necessarily mean, and historically it has usually not meant, full compelling authority over allied commanders and formations. Authority, therefore, tends to be collegial, and a successful coalition leader will be persuasive rather than coercive. Thus, despite an environment of great ambiguity, a Dwight Eisenhower or H. Norman Schwarzkopf will be more successful in a coalition environment than a "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell.[27] Although a highly capable soldier, in World War II Joseph Stilwell did not get along well with most of his Chinese and British allies. Despite his experience during four tours in China, he remained "impatient, acid, impolitic"--in short, "not the ideal man for the role."[28]

One of the most extraordinary mechanisms ever applied to the problems of coalition warfare was the unique, ad hoc, and highly successful Coalition Coordination, Communication, and Integration Center (C3IC) established early in Operation Desert Shield and used so effectively in Operation Desert Storm. It was designed to "fuse and integrate the efforts of 37 nations into a functional and efficient warfighting organization." Conspicuously and deliberately absent from the C3IC's title is the word "command." US Central Command was acutely sensitive not to appear as the outsider coming in and taking over. Doing so would have been harmful and disruptive to the coalition, if not simply fatal.[29] In actual fact, the coalition had no supreme allied commander. The US Commander, Central Command, and Saudi Commander, Joint Forces Command, conducted strategic planning through an informal but equal and cooperative relationship.[30]

The C3IC succeeded most of all because the proper personalities--co-directors Major General Paul R. Schwartz for the United States and Major General Salah al Garza for Saudi Arabia--made it work. General Schwartz has acknowledged the specific pains required "to demonstrate the coalition" by a visible and vital personal relationship within the C3IC. This relationship, however, was not limited to the co-directors. It was expected, indeed, demanded at all C3IC levels.[31]

Key to the C3IC from top to bottom was the conviction that the Desert Shield and Storm cause was a coalition cause. And just as World War II Anglo-American cooperation resulted in British and American staffs working closely together to achieve common Alliance aims,[32] so, too, the C3IC remained focused on a coalition solution to a coalition problem. If the allied Gulf coalition was the "heart and soul of the enterprise," the C3IC was the military heart and soul of the coalition.[33]

The ambiguous environment a coalition leader must contend with stems from often huge differences in operational-level realities such as goals, training, capabilities, equipment, logistics, culture, doctrine, intelligence, and language. Unilateral action, of course, dramatically reduces ambiguity. But since unilateral action is the exception, not the rule (in this century alone, all major wars have been coalition wars, excepting the Russo-Japanese and Iran-Iraq), the areas listed above demand attention. They will not likely be fully resolved no matter the degree of integration, but coalition partners must learn to manage them. Let us look briefly at them individually.

. Goals. A coalition would seem naturally to be united by common goals. Superficially this may be so, but participants seldom share identical aims. Britain and France, for example, entered World War I sharing the goals of liberating Belgium and defeating Germany, but little else. Britain particularly sought to secure its African and Mideast colonies but also to acquire Germany's overseas possessions. France desperately sought return of Alsace-Lorraine and domination of Europe in the wake of a defeated Germany. Goals also tend to change during a coalition's lifetime. Britain, for example, entered World War II to help Poland. Eventually, that goal expanded to include the defeat of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Even when goals are harmonized there may be considerable disagreement over the means to attain them, as with the World War II American-British debate over the direct versus indirect approach for defeating Germany. Smaller coalition partners in particular tend to feel bullied or neglected. Conversely, larger partners may perceive inequitably shared risks and burdens. In military terms, because allies share a compelling need to maintain political cohesion to enhance military effectiveness and solidity, "accommodation of differences in political-military objectives is therefore of the highest importance."[34] Harmonizing goals requires strong, assertive leadership, but not at the expense of tact, understanding, respect for each coalition member, and--insofar as possible--accommodation of individual countries' aims.[35]

Goals will normally be harmonized politically before they are handed to the military for execution. While determining military ends, ways, and means for accomplishing these goals, planners must ensure common understanding of coalition political goals and strive for full unity of effort.

. Training. Training emphases, resources, and standards vary from army to army, and few coalitions will ever boast common unit and individual competency levels. During the Korean War, training standards among participants varied dramatically. Since most UN ground formations served with US units, they were provided American weapons, equipment, and training as required. Some needed little training; others needed a great deal.[36] As recent US Gulf War experience confirms, however, quality training, regardless of nationality, pays great dividends. But the process is demanding and expensive.

If circumstances do not permit comprehensive training and retraining programs, formations trained to different or lesser standards must be used within the limitations of their training state by astute and diplomatic assignment of roles and missions.[37]

. Capabilities. Closely related to differences in training levels are differences in overall force capabilities. Allies are not equally capable. Accommodating differences in allied military capabilities "requires careful planning and tailored coordination and liaison between the forces."[38] Reconciling differences, however, can occur only after determining what they are. This can be difficult, and determining and taking account of shortfalls may be very sensitive. Coalition planners must give member forces tasks within their means. In the Gulf War, General Schwarzkopf and his coalition planners clearly understood this and proceeded accordingly.

For example, one problem was how to integrate the forces of Britain and France so as to acknowledge their status as major powers and avoid wounding national pride. US planners were particularly concerned with providing British and French units roles sufficient to be central but not so critical as to jeopardize success should those roles prove too great for them to handle. This was especially difficult in the case of the French 6th Light Armored Division.

While France had committed forces to the coalition effort early, the French government insisted on "not being seen as under the US shadow."[39] Thus, the French insisted on isolating their forces from other coalition elements. Further complicating matters was French law prohibiting conscripts from being compelled to serve overseas. But while the 6th Light Armored Division was made up of professional soldiers, it was manned, organized, and equipped much more like an American brigade than an American division. Therefore, its capability was limited. Still, a mission had to be assigned that neither overtaxed nor underutilized the French contribution. Fortunately, coalition planners allocated a flank security mission that not only was within French capabilities but that also satisfied French self-esteem in that their division saw combat.[40]

Similar concerns shadowed planning for the British 1st Armored Division. More comparable to an American division than the French, there was still only one British division in the coalition, even though it represented almost one fourth of the British army. Here, too, however, good fortune and planning prevailed, with the UK 1st Armored Division passing through a US 1st Infantry Division breach in the Iraqi defenses and attaining its objectives, managing to engage three Iraqi divisions in the process.[41]

In another example, Arab forces were arrayed together to take advantage of cultural and language similarities. The Saudis in particular proved "quite capable of assigning missions based on capabilities."[42] In simpler cases, a formation's function defined its role, as for example medical units or the Czech chemical defense unit in the Gulf War.[43]

. Equipment. Differing quality, quantity, and interoperability of equipment constitute three significant coalition equipment shortcomings, with interoperability probably the most serious. National pressures to favor domestic defense industries, lack of funding for modernization or standardization, different defense doctrines--all limit employment options owing to equipment differences. Time and resources permitting, coalition members should be provided the best quality and most interoperable equipment possible. Nevertheless, at all times prudent planners must realistically reconcile differences, exploiting interoperability where it exists and compensating where it does not. Additionally, potential problems must be anticipated and dealt with appropriately and early. For example, in the Gulf War, to have mingled Syrian forces fielding Soviet equipment with US VII Corps units would have invited substantial fratricide, given the almost reflexive nature of VII Corps' association of targets with Soviet-made equipment. Most important, perhaps, is ability to execute command and control functions. Communications unquestionably pose "one of the greatest challenges in the conduct of war."[44] Here, the C3IC proved especially valuable, becoming as it did the "transfer case" or "gear reduction mechanism" between US Central Command and the member nations' command structures.[45]

. Logistics. Next to common goals, logistics may be the most important ingredient for coalition success. And no nightmare looms larger for a coalition than logistics. While easy to dismiss it as a national responsibility, logistics will usually see larger, richer coalition partners supporting at least some of the smaller partners, if they can. In the Gulf War, time, substantial infrastructure, and Saudi funding led to tremendous coalition logistical success, but future coalition efforts will not likely benefit from similar conditions. Far more likely will be a repetition of the logistics disorder Matthew Ridgway recounted from his experience during the Korean War: "The Dutch wanted milk where the French wanted wine. The Moslems wanted no pork and the Hindus no beef. The Orientals wanted more rice and the Europeans more bread." Even footwear was a problem, needing "to be extra wide to fit the Turks," and "extra narrow and short" to fit the Koreans, Filipinos, and Thais.[46] In such cases, logistics planners will need patience, wisdom, and near magical skill to understand, anticipate, and accommodate tremendous variety in requirements.

. Culture. Each coalition partner will represent at least one culture. Cultural differences, subtle or substantial, may easily become debilitating if not understood and appreciated. Differences in discipline, work ethic, class distinctions, religious requirements, standards of living, traditions--all can cause friction, misunderstanding, and cracks in cohesion.

Again, the Gulf War showed the critical need for cultural awareness.[47] Fundamental to this awareness is realization that "different" may have nothing to do with better or worse. Fortunately, in the Gulf War, unlike many previous American coalition endeavors, the United States "showed great consideration for foreign sensitivities."[48] The Gulf experience also demonstrated the need for a pool of personnel with in-country experience, ideally including language and cultural expertise. In any future coalition undertaking, such personnel must not only be available but must be among the first ones deployed.[49] In most cases, it will be these personnel who initially educate their fellow nationals to cultural differences as the first step toward displaying the proper sensitivities.

. Doctrine. Military doctrine, the fundamental principles by which forces guide their actions in support of national objectives,[50] clearly reflects national character. Doctrine determines force structure and procedures. Doctrinal differences among allies may be minor or significant, but whatever their nature, failure to adjust to those differences--whether in command structure, the decisionmaking process, the format of orders, or anything else--will at least result in surprises and probably something far more serious. Standardization agreements such as NATO's, combined exercises, and liaison officers can alleviate some doctrinal differences. As with adjusting any other differences, planners must first understand coalition partners' doctrinal deviations and adjust to the degree possible. This may require assigning special missions or reallocating other assets or forces to support a given doctrinal variation. Again, awareness and appreciation of differences are the keys.[51]

. Intelligence. National intelligence resources vary substantially and users will seldom contribute proportionally to the intelligence effort. Even today, for example, NATO relies far more on nationally produced and somewhat shared intelligence than on any special NATO products. Sharing intelligence, of course, is a sensitive issue and in some cases may violate cultural norms concerning secrecy and exclusivity. In the Gulf War, the C3IC on occasion had to compel coalition members to share intelligence.[52] Main intelligence producers will seldom share everything with everyone. Here again, firm leadership, especially in the intelligence section, will be critical to intelligence collection, processing, and dissemination.

. Language. In any coalition, communication is vital. But if miscommunication amuses in peacetime, it can be disastrous in wartime.[53] Dedicated linguist efforts and liaison teams are vital, and the degree to which planners address language limitations--in effect, communication limitations--will determine the level and degree of operational integration. Even in a well-established alliance such as NATO with only two official languages, French and English, difficulties are endless. But when language demands are more immediate and resources less available, obstacles are greatly magnified. For example, when President Bush drew his line in the sand, less than one percent of the US armed forces' active-duty Arab linguists--only 16--were trained in the Iraqi dialect.[54] While inadequate numbers of trained linguists may constitute a serious handicap, eroding language proficiency is an even more serious problem. Few skills are as perishable as language skills. Developing and maintaining such skills is expensive and difficult. But as one author reminds, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."[55] Truly, "language is too important to be left to chance."[56]

Coalitions remain the historical norm and are a core element of US national security strategy. In reality, coalitions mean friction, inefficiency, and the whole amounting to less than the sum of all the parts. And "when coalition politics intrudes," as one author notes, "military logic often will have little relevance."[57] But for whatever reasons, whether practicality, expediency, or necessity, they will continue.

Today, NATO is considering multinational divisions as part of Allied Command Europe Reaction Corps proposals. Such notional formations include a combined Belgian-German-Dutch-United Kingdom airborne division; a Greek-Italian-Turkish infantry division, and an Italian-Portuguese mechanized division.[58] Outside NATO, France and Germany have already fielded a joint brigade, and as a "token of the two countries' growing cooperation," they project that it will expand to a corps.[59] While such a development may satisfy certain French and German security concerns, it has not persuaded many Americans that such an organization is necessary at all or, more important for NATO members, good for them.[60] Nothing in coalition history suggests these organizations will be free from difficulty.

Successful coalition partners, particularly coalition leaders, will be those who best handle operational realities by applying the proper blend of vision, determination, patience, tolerance, and flexibility. It has been done before and it will have to be done again. 


1. David G. Chandler, "Coalitions," Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars (New York: Macmillan, 1979), pp. 96-98.

2. Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1801.

3. Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, quoted in Burton Stevenson, ed., The Home Book of Quotations (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1964), p. 1541.

4. "I hate the prostitution of the name of friendship to signify modish and worldly alliances." Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, First Series: Friendship, in Stevenson, p. 741.

5. British Prime Minister Lloyd George's term, in Trumbull Higgins, Hitler and Russia (New York: Macmillan, 1966), p. 5.

6. P. Sweet et al., eds., Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, Series D (Washington: US Department of State, 1949), VII, 204-13 and 277-88.

7. "Courtesy of the Russo-German Pact," the Soviet icebreakers Lenin and Stalin opened parts of the passage for the German armed merchant cruiser Komet. The German government paid the Soviet government the equivalent of $300,000 "for the service." Edward Von der Porten, The German Navy in World War II (New York: Galahad, 1969), p. 124.

8. Sweet, et al., XI, documents 309 and 404.

9. Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Basic National Defense Doctrine, Joint Pub 0-1 (Final Draft, 24 July 1990), p. III-35.

10. Ibid.

11. Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense, Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Joint Pub 1-02, 1 December 1989, p. 76.

12. Neutrals most often try the go-it-alone approach, although with highly colored results. During World War II, for example, neutrality did not spare Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, or the United States, although neutrality plus varying degrees of complicity, geography, or both did spare Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden.

13. Book of Judges, chapters 6-8.

14. J. F. C. Fuller, The Generalship of Alexander the Great (New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1960), pp. 36-37; see also maps 2, 3, and 4.

15. France played a crucial role on the American side during the American Revolution, and even the American Indian Wars saw extensive reliance on allies--other Indian tribes.

16. Too much should not be expected of coalitions. After all, two organizations as fundamentally similar as the US Army and US Marine Corps have not always achieved suitable harmony and cooperation in combat. In World War I, Marine Major General John Lejeune capably commanded the US Army 2d Division, composed of two Army and two Marine regiments (the two Marine regiments were themselves commanded by Army Brigadier General James Harbord). Similarly, Marine Major General Roy Geiger with comparable, if briefer, success commanded Tenth Army on Okinawa in 1945 following Army Lieutenant General S. B. Buckner's death. Other joint Army-Marine operations, however, point up substantial difficulty. On Saipan in 1944, Marine Major General Holland Smith relieved Army Major General Ralph Smith, provoking a controversy to this day undecided. Similarly, Marine and Army commanders in Korea and Vietnam failed to reach suitable accord on too many occasions.

17. US Army Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC Pam 525-5, AirLand Operations, A Concept for the Evolution of AirLand Battle for the Strategic Army of the 1990s and Beyond, 1 August 1991, p. 4.

18. At Compiegne, 11 November 1918, armistice signatories were French, British, and German--no Americans.

19. On 26 May 1917, Secretary of War Newton Baker ordered Pershing "to cooperate with the forces of the other countries employed against [the] enemy; but in doing so the underlying idea must be kept in view that the forces of the United States are a separate and distinct component of the combined forces, the identity of which must be preserved." John J. Pershing, My Experiences in the World War (New York: Frederick Stokes Company, 1931), I, 38-39. Nevertheless, despite General Pershing's much-vaunted insistence that Americans fight as part of an American effort, four black US regiments, the 369th, 370th, 37lst, and 372d, did serve with the French army. Arthur Barbeau and Florette Henri, The Unknown Soldiers: Black American Troops in World War I (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1974).

20. Ulrich Trumpener, "Suez, Baku, Gallipoli: The Military Dimensions of the German-Ottoman Coalition, 1914-18," in Keith Neilson and Roy Prete, eds., Coalition Warfare: An Uneasy Accord (Ontario, Canada: Wilfrin Laurier Univ. Press, 1983), Appendix A, pp. 49-51. See also Otto Liman von Sanders, Five Years in Turkey (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1927), for a fascinating firsthand account of a German officer's service with the Turkish army.

21. Norman Stone, "The Austro-German Alliance, 1914-18," in Neilson and Prete, p. 20.

22. Chester G. Starr, From Salerno to the Alps (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1948), pp. 461-83.

23. Italy's surrender was not unique among allies. In fact, all of Germany's World War II European allies--Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Finland--surrendered before Germany did, Italy first and the rest by January 1945.

24. The Spanish Blue Division went off to the Russian Front three weeks after the German invasion. It returned to Spain in 1943. George Hills, Franco (New York: Macmillan, 1969), p. 337.

25. US Army, Foreign Military Studies, MS#B-661, Wartime Alliances, and MS#P-108, Germany and Her Allies in World War II (Washington: Department of the Army, 1954).

26. For example, the Greek and Thai battalions served with the 1st Cavalry Division; the French and Dutch battalions with the 2d Infantry Division; the Colombian battalion with the 7th Infantry Division; and the Philippine battalion with the 3d Infantry Division. Eventually, all three US corps in Korea--I, IX, and X--were integrated with UN and South Korean forces. The most international of these was I Corps, which by 1951 consisted of three US divisions, two South Korean divisions and a South Korean marine battalion, British, British Commonwealth, and Canadian brigades, a Turkish brigade, and battalions from Belgium, Greece, Thailand and the Philippines.

27. In retrospect, even General Schwarzkopf's touted coalitional success has been thrown into question. See Judith Miller, "Saudi Prince Disputes Schwarzkopf Book on War," The New York Times, 21 October 1992, p. A8, where the Saudi co-commander, Lieutenant General Khalid bin Sultan, carps at aspects of General Schwarzkopf's account of the war in It Doesn't Take a Hero (New York: Bantam, 1992).

28. Barbara Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China (New York: Macmillan, 1970), p. xi.

29. Transcript of interview with Major General Paul R. Schwartz, 23 April 1991, interviewed by Colonels John Connolly and William Barry and Lieutenant Colonels Joseph Englehardt and Douglas Johnson, US Army War College, p. 8.

30. Marc Michaelis, "Communication in the Coalition: Saudi Arabia--1990-1991," unpublished manuscript, 8 April 1991, pp. 7-8.

31. Schwartz, pp. 14 and 18. So invaluable was the trust this relationship fostered, one author called it "the glue" that held the coalition together. Michaelis, p. 6.

32. Forrest C. Pogue, The United States Army in World War II. European Theater of Operations: The Supreme Command (Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, GPO, 1954), p. 42.

33. Schwartz, p. 94.

34. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Operations, Field Manual 100-5, May 1986, p. 164.

35. Martin Blumenson and James L. Stokesbury, Masters of the Art of Command (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975), pp. 244, 305.

36. For a unique, if hyperbolic, account of this process, see The History of The United Nations Forces in the Korean War (Seoul: The Ministry of National Defense, 1972), vols. 1-6.

37. Schwartz, p. 59.

38. Field Manual 100-5, p. 164.

39. Bruce Watson, ed., Military Lessons of the Gulf War (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1991), p. 28.

40. Still, the entire experience resulted in France sustaining a position familiar enough to her allies: "integrated and yet alone." Watson.

41. Norman Friedman, Desert Victory (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1991), p. 229.

42. Schwartz, p. 36.

43. Ibid., p. 37.

44. Michaelis, p. 4. Desert Shield and Storm communications difficulties included language, incompatible equipment, and host-nation overuse of nonsecure communications means to pass classified or sensitive material.

45. Schwartz, p. 28.

46. Matthew B. Ridgway, The Korean War (New York: Da Capo, 1967), p. 221.

47. See Schwartz.

48. Watson, p. 29.

49. Ibid., p. 61.

50. Joint Pub 1-02, p. 118.

51. See Schwartz.

52. Ibid., p. 41.

53. Who cannot identify with the difficulties in using another language? If we have not stumbled ourselves in another tongue, how often have we noted the awkwardness of someone else stumbling in our own? Two harmless but unforgettable examples from personal experience as a Foreign Area Officer are "Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar," and "How is your wife raining tonight?"

54. James C. McNaughton, "Can We Talk: Desert Storm's Language Lessons," Army, June 1992, p. 23. This is an excellent treatment of the Gulf War language issue, although the overall lessons are readily applicable to any other language and virtually any other situation.

55. Ibid., p. 24.

56. Ibid., p. 28.

57. Friedman, p. 58.

58. From "Rapid Reaction Forces (Land)," MC 57/3, Brussels, North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

59. "Esprit de Korps," National Review, 18 November 1991, p. 18. See also Alan Riding, "Paris and Bonn Seek to End Unease on New Joint Force," The New York Times, 1 December 1992, p. A8.

60. Notes former US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, such developments are "bound to undermine NATO." "The European Community's New Army," Forbes, 25 November 1991, p. 33. "It is extremely unlikely that a Eurocorps will strengthen the Atlantic Alliance." Jeanne Kirkpatrick, "`Eurocorps' Shows Ambivalence About American Military Role," Army, July 1992, p. 12. 

Lieutenant Colonel Wayne A. Silkett, USA Ret., served before his recent retirement as Associate Director of Military Strategy in the Department of Corresponding Studies at the US Army War College. His previous assignments included service in Vietnam, in Berlin, at SHAPE in Belgium, and on the faculty of the US Air Force Academy. He is a graduate of San Jose State University; holds master's degrees from Boston University, the University of Southern California, and George Mason University; and has done doctoral work in international relations at the University of Denver. 

Reviewed 29 August 1997. Please send comments or corrections to