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Consistent with the definition of strategy in part II of this thesis, the prescriptions will be focused on the ends, ways, and means of U.S. national defense strategy.
These prescriptions will not advocate for particular service roles and missions or platforms – for example U.S. Navy sea-based Joint Strike Fighters versus U.S. Air Force land-based F-22’s to achieve Air Dominance; or U.S. Army land-based missile defense systems vs. U.S. Navy sea-based missile defense systems to achieve Force Protection; or U.S. Air Force air mobility aircraft vs. U.S. Navy strategic sealift ships for Global Mobility. Rather, these prescriptions are intended to center around strategic, doctrinal, or operational concepts, which will ultimately translate into material solutions in the DoD acquisition portfolio to execute those concepts.
1. Redeploy U.S. military forces to approximately match their pre-9/11 global posture. Prior to 9/11, U.S. military presence was relatively balanced around the globe in accordance with the 1-4-2-1 strategy. As argued in Part III of this thesis, while 9/11 introduced a global geo-political shock, it did not fundamentally change the regional geo-political calculus in North-East Asia, the Asia-Pacific Region, the Mediterranean Region, or South America.
The U.S. emerged as a global power in the early part of the 20th century, and remains a global power at the start of the 21st century. As an example of this imperative for America to remain globally engaged, President Obama utilized the word “global” and its derivatives (globally, globalized, globalization) 184 times over the course of 52 pages in his 2010 “National Security Strategy."
In light of this overarching national security guidance, it is imperative that the U.S. military is equitably distributed around the globe in support of U.S. global interests.
2. Reconsider returning to the 1-4-2-1 strategic planning construct. As stated in the concluding paragraph of Part II, in the author’s opinion the 1-4-2-1 strategy of the pre-9/11, post-Cold War era was a prudent hedge against the uncertainty of the future security environment. Additionally, it is the author’s opinion that the Department of Defense divested from the 1-4-2-1 concept due to the strategic reality (ends, ways, means) of the opportunity costs of investing an excessive amount of resources in two post-9/11 COIN campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The author posits a sole additive exception to this prescription: the imperative to maintain a global counter-terrorism force – capable of delivering global effects through agile intelligence, maneuver, and fires – in all of the domains of war – land, sea, air, space, cyber, and information – to counter the threat posed by Al Qaeda and associated extremist movements who have proven to present a clear and present danger to the homeland and U.S. interests abroad. Perhaps this imperative could be captured by adding an additional “1”, as in 1-4-2-1-1: Defend the homeland (1), maintain forward presence in 4 critical regions (4), prepare to fight and win in two nearly simultaneous regional conflicts (2), prepare for and execute smaller-scale contingency operations, and sustain a global counter-terrorism task force capable of rapid, precise counter-terrorism operations (1).
Of note – in light of the bleak Federal fiscal outlooks depicted at the beginning of Part V of this thesis, the 1-4-2-1(-1?) strategic construct may not be affordable. This issue deserves vigorous national debate on the future of U.S. defense strategy.
3. Re-balance the DoD investment portfolio. As depicted in Part IV of this thesis, the execution of two COIN campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan has upended 50 years of DoD service investment trends, with the Departments of the Navy, Air Force, and Army receiving roughly proportionate levels of annual budgetary authority. In line with the global nature of U.S. interests and security strategy, DoD should re-focus investment on those aspects of the national security enterprise which bolster national security in the global domains of air, maritime, space, and cyber.
4. Reduce the end strength of the services to pre-9/11 levels – and beyond. In both the private and public sectors in the U.S., technological innovation is reducing the required levels of manpower in any enterprise. An exception to this is FM 3-24, which posits an enduring requirement for large numbers of troops deployed to an area of operation for extended periods of time. One of the principal advantages that the U.S. military enjoys over any adversary is technological overmatch. The excessive investment in manpower and operations & maintenance funding necessitated by the execution of two FM 3-24 COIN campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan has eroded DoD investment in procurement and research and development funding into future technologies that will preserve this comparative advantage.
5. Review the affordability of U.S. military operational concepts. Affordability – or the nominal capacity to generate the means to execute the ways to achieve the ends of military strategy – must be considered in any operational concept that is considered in the execution of a strategy. This prescription is offered not only in the context of FM 3-24 COIN doctrine; the looming Federal fiscal environment necessitates that all U.S. military doctrinal concepts should be examined on the basis of their affordability, and unaffordable concepts should be discarded.
6. Re-write FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency doctrine to balance “the interaction of ends, ways, and means.” In other words, FM 3-24 must properly account for the fact that the scope and scale of any counterinsurgency campaign are determined by the means made available for that campaign. In the case of the Iraq and Afghanistan COIN campaigns, FM 3-24 demanded the requisite means, with no consideration of the current and future opportunity costs in the U.S. national security investment portfolio.
The sociological phenomenon of insurgency in armed conflict is deeply rooted in the history of warfare and will likely continue to persist into the future of warfare. FM 3-24 states that ‘Insurgency and its tactics are as old as warfare itself”and “…That is why insurgency has been a common approach used by the weak against the strong.”
Having said that, what must change is the notion that the U.S. military can afford to meet the FM 3-24 prescribed level of resources required to execute a COIN campaign – for example a 20-25 counterinsurgent ratio per 1,000 residents in an area of operations. Under FM 3-24 doctrine, a military campaign on the Korean Peninsula – long utilized as a force planning driver – results in a counterinsurgent demand signal of 400,000 to 500,000 troops in the event of an insurgency amongst the North Korean populace (~25 million people).
COINdinistas have often used the term “small wars” to describe counterinsurgency campaigns. However, FM 3-24 prescribes anything but a “small war” with its force planning requirements; by any definition, deploying 100,000+ troops abroad for an extended duration is anything but a “small war” in the modern context. And that 20-25 counterinsurgent per 1,000 residents ratio doesn’t account for the all of the combat enablers stipulated in FM 3-24 – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, logistics, air mobility, sea mobility, fires, precision strike, detainee affairs, etc. – the list goes on.
If the reader accepts that the assertion phenomenon of insurgency will persist in the future of warfare, and concludes that the U.S. military has an imperative to conduct counterinsurgency campaigns in support of U.S. national security objectives, then how should FM 3-24 doctrine be modified? Perhaps that answer lies in reverting to a previous definition of “small wars” – i.e. the anti-Communist counterinsurgency campaigns in Central America in the 1980’s, where American advisors numbering in the double digits trained, equipped, and mentored indigenous security forces in the art of counterinsurgency… or perhaps in the pacification of anti-colonial insurgencies in the Caribbean and Latin America in the early part of the 20th Century – but those theories are beyond the scope of the study of this thesis.
If FM 3-24 is not re-written to account for the resources required to execute the doctrine, the doctrine will price itself out of the business of war.