Fu­ture wars seen as longer, dead­lier af­fairs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY SHAUN WATER­MAN

The wars of the fu­ture will be longer, dead­lier and waged against a more di­verse va­ri­ety of en­e­mies than ever be­fore, and U.S. armed forces must be ready, Deputy Sec­re­tary of De­fense Wil­liam J. Lynn III said June 8.

Speak­ing to the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter na­tional Stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton, Mr. Lynn iden­ti­fied what he called “three strate­gic trends” that are shap­ing “our fu­ture na­tional se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment: lethal­ity, du­ra­tion and asym­me­try.”

In a 21st-cen­tury world trans­formed by the in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy revo­lu­tion, a greater range of ad­ver­sar ies, from crim­i­nal gangs to ter­ror groups and rogue states, have ac­cess to the dead­li­est of weapons, Mr. Lynn said.

“For cen­turies, the most eco­nom­i­cally de­vel­oped na­tions wielded the most lethal mil­i­tary power,” he said, but not any­more.

Ter­ror­ists and in­sur­gents can strike civil­ian and mil­i­tary tar­gets with im­pro­vised weapons and deadly ef­fect, he said. “Rogue states seek nu­clear weapons. [And] some crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions even pos­sess world-class cy­ber­ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

The grow­ing di­ver­sity of po­ten­tial en­e­mies able to strike with deadly ef­fect at the United States or U.S. forces “means we can­not pre­pare ex­clu­sively for ei­ther a high-end con­flict with a po­ten­tial near-peer [na­tion­state] com­peti­tor or a lower-end con­flict with a coun­terin­sur­gency fo­cus,” he said.

In­stead, the U.S. mil­i­tary “must be able to con­front both high-end and low-end threats [. . . ] we will need both fifth­gen­er­a­tion [jet] fight­ers and counter-IED tech­nol­ogy,” he said, re­fer­ring to the im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices (IEDs) used by mil­i­tants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In ad­di­tion, tra­di­tional mil­i­tary think­ing about wars, which saw them as in­tense but short conflicts like the first Gulf War, is out­moded.

“This con­struct does not fit our cur­rent re­al­ity. [. . . ] Our de­ploy­ments to Iraq and Afghanistan have now lasted longer than the U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion in World War I and World War II com­bined,” he said. “The stress this places on our force turns out to be far more chal­leng­ing to man­age” than tra­di­tional conflicts.

“We must plan to sus­tain long-term com­mit­ments for a range of plau­si­ble conflicts,” which means chang­ing the way “we size, struc­ture and uti­lize” the Na­tional Guard and re­serves, he said.

“We need the abil­ity to scale-up force struc­ture for longer conflicts,” he said, mean­ing the mil­i­tary needs to be able to mobilize larger num­bers of troops for longer pe­ri­ods of time.

The third trend Mr. Lynn iden­ti­fied is the growth of asym­me­try in war­fare.

No longer are bat­tles fought be­tween sim­i­lar forces, “cav­alry on cav­alry, [or] ar­mor on ar­mor.” To­day, he said, “the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary is dom­i­nant by al­most ev­ery mea­sure [. . . ] ad­ver­saries can de­feat us only if they side­step our con­struct for the use of force” and “tar­get our weak­nesses and un­der­cut our ad­van­tages.”

The grow­ing di­ver­sity of po­ten­tial en­e­mies able to strike with deadly ef­fect at the United States or U.S. forces “means we can­not pre­pare ex­clu­sively for ei­ther a high-end con­flict with a po­ten­tial near-peer [nation-state] com­peti­tor or a lower-end con­flict with a coun­terin­sur­gency fo­cus,” said Deputy Sec­re­tary of De­fense Wil­liam J. Lynn III.

Thus, in­sur­gent groups avoided di­rect com­bat with U.S. forces but sought to de­stroy ex­pen­sive weapons sys­tems and kill troops with road­side bombs that can be built for a few dol­lars.

“Tra­di­tional pow­ers also seek asym­met­ric ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” he said in an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to po­ten­tial nation-state ad­ver­saries like China. He cited the quest for cy­ber­war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties as the best ex­am­ple.

In con­trast to state-of-theart con­ven­tional weapons sys­tems, cut­ting-edge cy­ber­ca­pa­bil­i­ties are easy and cheap to ac­quire. “A small num­ber of highly trained pro­gram­mers, us­ing off-the-shelf equip­ment, can de­velop toxic tools and de­ploy them to great ef­fect,” Mr. Lynn said.

More­over, cy­ber­ca­pa­bil­i­ties are spread­ing, he said. Other coun­tries could be de­terred from at­tack­ing, even with de­ni­able cy­ber­weapons, by U.S. mil­i­tary power.

“So even though na­tion­states are the most ca­pa­ble ac­tors, they are the least likely to ini­ti­ate a de­struc­tive [cy­ber]at­tack,” he said. “Ter­ror ist groups, how­ever, have no such hes­i­ta­tion.”

“So in cy­ber, we have a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to act be­fore the most ma­li­cious ac­tors ac­quire the most de­struc­tive tech­nolo­gies,” he said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Deputy Sec­re­tary of De­fense Wil­liam J. Lynn III

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