Likely Environments of Future Military Operations
The 21st century will see the U.S. military continuing to be fully committed to responding to a full spectrum of missions, from peacekeeping and other military operations other than war to major theater war. These operations will be conducted in a world where sophisticated military equipment can be purchased by anyone with adequate funds, and some military capabilities can be purchased through commercial markets. Commercialization in such areas as information technology, space operations, imaging, and global positioning, and the increased need and desire of the United States to use commercial technology for military use, reduce the ability of the United States to protect these technologies. Also, when an adversary is able to make use of commercial space and information technologies, it will be more difficult for the United States to preclude their use in time of conflict.
Given the U.S. military strengths and vulnerabilities and the difficulty,
if not impossibility, of an adversary effectively matching the United States
in organization, training, and military equipment, a potential adversary's
strategy is likely to entail the development of asymmetric capabilities to
effectively counter the United States. Asymmetric opportunities for a would-be
adversary include finding low-cost means of precluding the U.S. ability to
project its military power, particularly in landing forces in another country,
by exploiting the aversion of the U.S. public for casualties; developing ways
to counter the effectiveness of U.S. air power and precision munitions; and
seeking ways to preclude or undermine U.S. information superiority.
Such trends portend a future in which low-cost ballistic and cruise
missiles, weapons of mass destruction, and information attacks are a threat.
Weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological weapons,
will be available to the full range of threats, from rogue nations to
transnational actors, international criminals, and terrorists. Attacks on
targets within the continental United States may be launched to reduce the
DOD's ability to command, control, deploy, and support its forces, or--if
launched against non-military targets in the United States--to influence the
American public. It will be harder to predetermine threats to U.S. interests,
and attacks against the continental United States may well occur in the United
States as terrorist attacks or as integral parts of an overall campaign
against the United States.
The changed and changing world environment has a number of important military implications for the U.S. military. U.S. command and control must be global, capable of supporting a wide range of operations anywhere in the world, must operate in any terrain and on the move (by ship, plane, or land vehicle), and must be sustained from early warning and crisis management through post-conflict tasks. Also, given the U.S. public's aversion to U.S. military casualties, the U.S. military has placed an even greater emphasis on high-technology solutions, such as precision munitions and remote delivery.
Service component forces will operate jointly under a joint commander and, in many cases, will be combined with allied and coalition forces. To carry out command and control, the joint commander must receive information about the threat, operational environment, and status of his service component forces, and must be able to communicate with his component commanders about decisions related to the integrated allocation and employment of service assets.
As the United States responds to situations around the world, it will do so with other international powers, either regional allies or coalitions formed in response to the specific crisis, and operations will not only be joint, but combined. The type of missions and the international composition of the force will require coordination with multiple departments, agencies, and organizations (non-governmental as well as governmental), including those of coalition partners. The combined joint task force commander, when American, would have the same command and control requirements with his entire combined forces as he would have with his U.S. forces.