From the Editor

From Parameters,  Summer 2004, pp. 2-3.

In This Issue . . .

Miyamoto Musashi counseled over 300 years ago that “strategy is the craft of the warrior.” Today, the United States Army finds itself engaged globally in volatile, uncertain, and complex environments. To manage these challenges, many believe, requires the establishment of a new operational mindset for the application of military power. We are indeed fortunate to be able to present the thoughts of two proven warriors, the Honorable Les Brownlee and General Peter J. Schoomaker, regarding the direction they believe America’s Army should be tending. “Serving a Nation at War: A Campaign Quality Army with Joint and Expeditionary Capabilities” outlines the strategic context and framework accompanying a series of changes that are under way in the Army. This article serves as a foundation and call for a continuing dialogue on the future of the Army and our nation. We encourage each of you to take up the challenge and participate in this dialogue.

Ralph Peters admonishes those who have attempted to ban the term “war of attrition” from the military’s lexicon. “In Praise of Attrition” presents an insightful and sobering view of the realities of warfare in the 21st century. The author recounts many of the Army’s missteps in its attempts to troll for successful theories related to the conduct of war. Peters tells us these misguided efforts have damaged our intellectual understanding of warfare, especially in terms of an overreliance on maneuver and technology. He cautions that there is never a set template for war and that every battle is in some way distinct, but he also reminds us we should not lose sight of war’s “elementary focus”—killing the enemy swiftly and relentlessly. Peters concludes that it is often not enough to defeat your enemy politically or materially. You must convince your enemy he has been defeated.

“Change and the Nature of War” is a thematic presentation built on three articles related to change within the military and the accompanying impact on the essential nature of war. In the first article John Gordon and Jerry Sollinger, two distinguished members of the RAND Corporation, examine “The Army’s Dilemma.” The authors believe the Army is viewed by senior defense policymakers as unimaginative, obstructionist, and wedded to concepts of warfare that are irrelevant in the new geopolitical environment. They suggest the Army should amend its doctrine to reflect a “find-fix-flush” role in support of Air Force and Navy air. Gordon and Sollinger highlight the growing penchant for an “air-first response” in questioning the Army’s recent emphasis on rapid deployment. They conclude that because of factors outside the Army’s control, e.g., the capacity and availability of ports and airfields, it should reevaluate its plans to transform to a medium-weight force. Our second article in this feature is based on Robert Bolia’s insightful analysis of the Yom Kippur War. “Overreliance on Technology in Warfare: The Yom Kippur War as a Case Study” highlights fallacies associated with an overdependence on technology in peace and


war. Bolia devotes much of the article to an examination of Israeli intelligence and doctrinal failures linked directly to an overreliance on technology. The author concludes that one cannot overstate the dangers associated with substituting technology for sound doctrine, training, and tactics—that it is, in fact, doctrine and tactics which must guide the employment of technologies. Our third and concluding article on this theme is Thomas Mahnken and James FitzSimonds’ “Tread-Heads or Technophiles? Army Officer Attitudes Toward Transformation.” This article is based on the authors’ surveys of more than 4,500 officers—including nearly 1,900 Army officers— conducted during 2000 and 2002. The purpose of the surveys was to establish an understanding of officer attitudes related to transformation. One of the authors’ most revealing findings was the dramatic shift in Army officer support related to transformation between the two survey periods. Generally, respondents in the 2002 survey were much more supportive of transformation. One troubling finding, however, was a general belief that the Army’s organizational culture is inhibiting innovation.

Robert Cassidy uses the analogy of Bernard Fall’s “Highway 1” in Vietnam and current operations in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq as the basis for “Back to the Street without Joy: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Vietnam and Other Small Wars.” Cassidy examines the salient lessons from Vietnam and earlier US counterinsurgency operations for insight into counter-guerilla actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of immense value is the author’s list of sources providing lessons for counterinsurgency operations. Cassidy admonishes those who permitted the lessons learned from Vietnam, the Philippines, the Banana wars, and the Indian campaigns to be forgotten. The author concludes that our preoccupation with winning the big wars caused us to treat these experiences as aberrations.

With all the world’s many distractions we have almost forgotten about the aftermath of the Cold War arms race. Justin Bernier presents a revealing analysis of the status of Russian arms reduction in “The Death of Disarmament in Russia?” He informs those who thought post-Cold War agreements had achieved lasting benefits that substantial Russian nuclear, biological, and chemical stockpiles remain. Bernier analyzes a number of Russian weapons programs and determines remaining arms reduction efforts are being thwarted by a troubling disinterest in disarmament. The author concludes there is an immediate need for a thorough, candid reexamination of US policy regarding disarmament in Russia.

Our final article in this issue is William Rapp’s examination of the United States’ relationship with Japan. “Past its Prime? The Future of the US-Japan Alliance” presents a rather pessimistic view of continuing relations. The author bases his assessment on a detailed analysis of competing values between the two nations and what he terms “a new direction in Japan’s strategic intentions.” Of major interest to any Asiaphile are the author’s predictions regarding the next two decades. Rapp closes with the sobering conclusion that “it is best to recognize the dimensions of the new era now and move forward, rather than to drag along an alliance that may be past its prime.” — RHT

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Reviewed 24 May 2004. Please send comments or corrections to