Shifts in global security landscape demand changes in force posture.
You need to read the whole thing, of course, but here are a few pull quotes to tease you a bit.
The geo-strategist Halford McKinder once divided major states between Land and Sea Wolves. States that have an expeditionary capability are not limited to either/or status. They crossbreed their wolf packs to swim if needed and conduct operations ashore far from home when called upon. This expeditionary capability allows a state to apply strategic leverage across the physical domains. Most critically, expeditionary capabilities allow powers to deal with or minimize geographical and environmental constraints. Expeditionary forces allow maritime powers the opportunity to exploit their mastery of the seas to their advantage. Equally important, expeditionary forces can help offset the disadvantages of a purely maritime-based approach and provide even Continental Elephants the ability to project power when their interests are served by that capability.Yep - we need him as a guest.
It is a safe wager that war will always be with us. What is not a safe bet is the character and frequency of war. The causes, character and consequences of wars in the future will be influenced by many factors. Historical patterns and future trends point to shifts in the character and forms of warfare. Some of these shifts are captured by the interest in “new wars,” net wars, and “n-th generation” warfare. Most of these frameworks reflect an interest in novelty, overlook enduring elements of conflict and are short on prescriptions. A myopic focus on purely conventional threats leads us to dismiss rising challenges and the confluence of modes of conflict that led to 9/11. These two extremes should be avoided when trying to determine how to best posture U.S. forces to cover an expanding threat and mission spectrum in the 21st century.
The potential for major interstate warfare has been low, and will remain a rare but ever-present element in the international system. The fashionable presumption that interstate conflict is a thing of the past should be dashed with a clear understanding of history and human nature. “Over the past two centuries,” Donald Kagan noted, “the only thing more common than predictions about the end of wars has been war itself.”
The neat distinctions or intellectual bins we make between conventional and irregular warfare are useful, but only to a degree. The future portends potentially aggravating circumstances that will make the neat distinction between state and nonstate moot, and the delineation between conventional and irregular adversaries irrelevant. Thanks in part to globalization and the rapid transmission of ideas and technology, there is a recognizable fusion or blurring of regular and irregular modes of combat, into what might be called “combinational” or hybrid warfare.
Of course, “complex expeditionary warfare” implies a notion of complexity presumed to have been absent in the past, but one can look back three and half millennia when the Greeks fought against Troy and find the challenges no less complex. Homer’s “Iliad” dramatizes the complex expeditionary circumstances faced by the Greeks.
The Greek expedition was no simple matter. The assembly of their swift black ships was not a simple task, and the navigator originally landed miles off target. Nothing new here to veterans from Gallipoli or Normandy. Landing and storming Troy’s beaches and boggy plain was not easy. Likewise, sustaining the mission was a logistics nightmare.
Troy’s dense battlements pose no less danger or challenge than the sprawling megacities of Asia or Africa today. Achilles’ debasement of Prince Hector’s corpse should be seen in terms of its influence on the population of Troy. This effective imagery cowed the defenders of the city’s battlements and their families better than a posted video of a beheaded prisoner by al-Qaida. Clearly, the famous Trojan horse represents one of history’s first examples of the cunning inherent to the expeditionary mindset.
Whether the warriors are wearing greaves and bronze helmets, or leather boots and Kevlar headgear, the complexity is always present.