March 31 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Security Year: General Rating: 10
By Dick Pelletier
In The American Way of War, historian Russell Weigley describes a grinding strategy of destruction employed by the US military over the last 150 years. To end the Civil War, Grant felt he had to completely destroy Lee soldiers. In World War I, Pershing relentlessly bombarded and wore down Germany’s proud fighting machine. And the Army Air Corps pulverized major German and Japanese cities to win World War II.
These wars were not won by tactical or strategic brilliance but by the sheer weight of numbers – the awesome destructive power that only a fully mobilized and highly industrialized democracy can bring to bear. In these conflicts, US armies suffered and inflicted massive casualties. Our ability to both inflict and endure such casualties more effectively than could our adversaries ultimately resulted in victory.
However, this strategy is no longer effective. Inspired by latest information technologies, the US military has adopted new warfare tactics that eliminate the bloody matches of old. The new style seeks quick victory with minimal casualties on both sides and utilizes speed, flexibility, and surprise. It relies on precision firepower and integrates naval, air, and land forces into a seamless whole. This technique was clearly demonstrated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
But experts predict that even this latest approach must change. Today, we experience conflict that includes warfare in which dominant military powers are confronted by a wide range of adversaries – from non-state radical ideologies (al Qaeda), to transnational criminal elements (Russian Mafia), to rogue states (N. Korea, Iran) – all employing unconventional tactics.
From suicide bombers to information warfare, the threat has become inescapable. 9/11 brought world attention to “suicide warfare” and it has been echoed many times around the world; and experts say we can expect this trend to continue. Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski warns that “future terrorist groups will view 9/11 as the standard for success.”
And even more dangerous, today’s enemies are trying to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear arms. These weapons in the hands of organizations like al Qaeda which is not connected to any nation, represent extreme danger. In response to these threats, the US military is considering radical solutions; one of which includes a better understanding of our enemies.
Recognizing that military power alone cannot beat 21st century terrorists; former DARPA director Robert Popp believes that intelligence must improve. “We need more Arabic speakers, more experts who understand tribal relations in Pakistan, and diplomats who can win over audiences on Al Jazeera, the popular Arab TV channel,” Popp says.
Also, forward-thinkers believe that future technologies will help. Over the next two decades, biotechnologies promise to improve health and extend lives, and nanotechnology could bring an end to food, water and energy shortages worldwide. As these breakthroughs materialize, they will increase prosperity everywhere and eliminate much of the underlying causes of unrest in developing nations.
Could these technologies, along with exponentially-advancing A.I. end all crime, violence, and wars? Experts say yes, this miracle could happen and it could become reality by as early as mid-century. Welcome to a “magical future” where hostilities are replaced by excitement over new technologies and the awe of exploring space.