Jan. 1, 1999
Neglected and Sometimes Denigrated

“I believe it is time to abandon unhelpful ‘history shows …’ arguments. They typically go as follows: ‘History shows that airpower overpromises what it can do. In too many cases at too many times it has failed to deliver on those promises, and we expect that trend to continue in the future.’

“Now, I will be the first to admit that aerospace power let others down from the Peloponnesian through Spanish-American wars. And I am certainly ready to admit that we did overpromise in one particular activity: We overpromised survivability to some 23,000 [US Army Air Forces] crew members lost during World War II in the combined bomber offensive. The … sacrifices of those crew members remain largely neglected-and sometimes denigrated.”–Gen. Michael J. Dugan (Ret.), former Air Force Chief of Staff, in a Nov. 24, 1998, speech in Cambridge, Mass.

Translation: No Pacific Drawdown

“The 1995 East Asia Strategy Report stated that the United States will maintain approximately 100,000 US military personnel in the Asia-Pacific region. This report reaffirms that commitment. We will sustain our presence with contributions from all military services, ensuring that we have maximum operational flexibility in the event of a crisis.

“This force level in the region is based on our analysis of the strategic environment for now and in the future, and the military capabilities needed to achieve our goals. The presence of 100,000 US military personnel is not arbitrary.”–From the Defense Department’s 1998 East Asia Strategy Report, made public in November 1998.

Urban Myths

“If you’re fighting me, and you have this great Air Force and this great Navy with all these precision weapons, I’m going to find a way for you not to use them. I’m going to fight you in the city so you’re going to have to kill the city to kill me. Or, I’m going to take refugees [and put them on tanks and similar potential targets]. I’m going to let you kill civilians and see how that flies on CNN. Doing that gives you a big problem. You’ve got to send some infantrymen in there and separate people from weapons platforms in order to kill the weapons platforms. You’ve got a tough, tough game. These asymmetries are not being considered adequately as the Department of Defense divvies up the money. The Army is being shortchanged.”–Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner (Ret.), as quoted by George C. Wilson in the Nov. 9, 1998, Army Times.

Trading Places

“It now appears possible to halt a large-scale, combined arms offensive with forces that can be brought to bear within a matter of days rather than months. … Systems to provide these capabilities either exist today or are in advanced stages of development. If fielded in sufficient numbers, they would allow US forces to halt armored invasions promptly, even under the stressing circumstances of a short-warning attack supported by concerted efforts to deny US expeditionary forces access to the region of conflict.

“But investments in key elements of this halt capability are lagging. … [For example] US inventories of advanced anti-armor munitions will be significantly smaller than those needed for two plausibly stressing major conflicts. … Investing adequately in these and other critical capabilities will require cuts in other accounts. Because it is so important that US and allied forces prevail in the opening phase of a major conflict, if cuts must be imposed upon deployable forces, they should, in general, come from systems and units that are not available for the halt phase-that is, from later-arriving forces intended for use in a counteroffensive. …

“Heretofore, longer-range firepower systems, such as aircraft, missiles, and artillery, were seen primarily as delaying and disrupting attacking enemy ground forces, whereas heavy ground forces and supporting fires were relied upon to play the leading role in destroying and halting the enemy. Henceforth, longer-range firepower will be increasingly relied upon to bear the greatest share of this burden.”–From the fall 1998 Rand study “To Find, and Not to Yield: How Advances in Information and Firepower Can Transform Theater Warfare.”

Sleepwalking in Sarajevo

“Although [Richard] Holbrooke is rarely accused of excessive modesty, his achievement [in brokering the Bosnian peace accords] is actually understated in [his] book, simply because he is careful not to draw attention to how little active support he got from his own President. In fact, up until the convening of the Dayton conference, President Clinton seems hardly to have been paying attention to Bosnia; his main intervention was to question the continuation of NATO’s bombing campaign in mid-September, at a time when Holbrooke and his team believed that the bombing was essential for the success of their diplomatic efforts.

“In one of the book’s most revealing passages, Holbrooke recounts how he informed Clinton that his publicly announced promise to provide US troops if needed to help extract [United Nations] peacekeepers had produced a NATO contingency plan that called for the use of 20,000 American troops to assist in the extraction. Although President Clinton had never approved or even been briefed on the plan, it had already been approved by the NATO council. … [T]he President began to ‘press his advisors for better options.’ Apparently, Holbrooke implies, Clinton finally acted in Bosnia only when told that he had lost the option of inaction.”–Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz, in the fall 1998 issue of the magazine The National Interest.