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World View: The 1994 Strategic Assessment from the Strategic Studies Institute

Edited by Dr. Steven Metz, Dr. Earl H. Tilford Jr.. | April 1994

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Each January the regional analysts at the U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) assess global trends that are most 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 1994, the analysts at SSI believe eight major determinants will dominantly influence U.S. interests, national military strategy, and the Army's posture:

  • Fiscal constraints, domestic issues, and a growing linkage between domestic and transregional economics will drive U.S. priorities. These trends will push defense resources down, demand economies of force, and perpetuate the ongoing debate over roles and missions.
  • U.N. peace operations will become increasingly important for U.S. policy planners. The implications for the armed forces, including the Army, will be significant.
  • Small states are gaining unprecedented strategic military capabilities as the world transitions from the industrial age to the information age. Furthermore, the diffusion of political, economic, technical and military power in this multipolar world poses a challenge to the Army as it restructures itself from a cold war army.
  • Throughout the world, ethnic and religious nationalism are replacing ideology as social forces most likely to promote violence and regional instability. These forces will increase pressures on collective security institutions, and may require redefinition of peacekeeping and peace-enforcement. In turn, these pressures will require U.S. leadership and collective engagement.
  • Russia remains in turmoil. Political instability there and throughout the states of the former Soviet Union increases. The challenges attending the turmoil throughout this vast area are only heightened by the issues of nuclear proliferation.
  • On February 28, 1994, NATO F-16 fighters engaged in the first hostile action in the history of the Alliance when they shot down four Serbian fighter-bombers which had violated the no-fly zone over Bosnia. The instability in the Balkans joins that of lands to the east in posing what is possibly the greatest threat to European peace.
  • Peace in the Middle East is threatened by many groups unsatisfied with the progress in resolving the differences between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). As usual, very little seems sure in the region. The United States will continue the leading external role as guarantor of regional stability.
  • In Asia, North Korea's potential to become a nuclear power poses the greatest threat to regional security. Economic accommodation among the major regional players, the United States, Japan, and South Korea will continue to focus the attention of Washington planners.

The world of 1994 is very different from the world of 5 or 6 years ago. It is far less predictable and more violent than anyone anticipated when President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev took steps to end the cold war. Defending and promoting U.S. interests remain national priorities even as new opportunities to foster those interests, and new challenges that threaten them, appear at unexpected and irregular intervals. The uncertainties of the next few years will continue to challenge both national leaders and Army senior leadership.