The United States' Military Strategy

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The grand strategies of the United States (US) military have evolved all too slowly over the course of wartime history, and Sun-Tzu’s words from over 2,000 years ago bear an uncanny call to action. I posit, however, that simply shifting from the war strategy of leading (or perhaps more accurately, policing) the world via military might, with a long arm and strong hand, to one of multilateral conflict resolution complete with “winning hearts and minds,” is equally insufficient in guaranteeing a successful outcome. Rather, succeeding in a modern conflict requires modern thought; we must stop thinking in terms of archaic dichotomies. When it comes to creating a grand military strategy, we cannot afford to think in terms of “either/or,” instead we must consider thinking in terms of using strategies from both.

In this essay, I present evidence that both a pre 9/11 war like World War II; with strong world leadership and a post 9/11 war like Afghanistan which was politically-based; multilateral strategies were indispensable. In analyzing three challenges of pre/post 9/11 warfare, I first examine the influence of politics and other circumstances on warfare. Next, I evaluate the difficulty and challenges of translating military outcomes into desired political outcomes. Finally, I assess the unique challenges such as modern coalition warfare and irregular warfare. By the end of this analysis, the challenges the US faces in translating military power into desired political outcome will be clear.

It is necessary to define, the US pre 9/11 military strategy to the post one that has emerged, before getting to the major points of this analysis. I contend a critical point of evolution in war-fighting occurred on 11 Sept 2001. The American ...

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...l, 1995, 41-55.

6. Colin S. Gray, lesson 7, article 1

• Reading 1: Gray, Colin S. Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy: Can the American Way of War Adapt? Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, March 2006, 1-55.

7. Stephen Biddle, Fotini Christia and F. Alexander Their, lesson 12, article 1

• Reading 4: Biddle, Stephen, Christina Fotini, and J. Alexander Their. “ Defining Success in Afghanistan.” Foreign Affairs 89, 4 (July-August 2010): 48-60.

8. Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini, lesson 3, article 1

• Reading 1: Jomini, Antoine Henri. “ Summary of the Art of War.” The Art of War. Westport CT: Greenwood, 1971, 11-13, 34, 37-39, 46-54, 59-76, 91-94, 104-116, and 298-305

9. Paul D. Miller, lesson 12, article 5

• Reading 5: Miller, Paul D. “Finish the Job.” Foreign Affairs 90, no. 1 (January/February 2011): 51-65.
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