Events in Somalia and Bosnia, among others, have reinforced the prevalent U.S. position that U.S. forces will not be under U.N. command unless that command is delegated to U.S. force commanders, as in Korea and the Gulf. Nevertheless, the United Nations, by virtue of the collective political umbrella that it throws over security-related military activity by any coalition, will usually have to be accounted for in planning and executing such activity.

At the same time, modern civilian communications technology—instant replay of ongoing world events on evening television news —brings the ugly details of war and of related highly disturbing events to full public view. The American public views these events with ambiguity and perplexity, and these attitudes affect military planning and operations in a complex way. While the public presses for military involvement to mitigate the suffering being shown, it also does not want to inflict suffering, and it takes a cautious view of the price worth paying to uphold our interests overseas. In the absence of a direct threat to the U.S. homeland or to our most vital national interests abroad (such as materialized when Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia), few issues are seen to justify U.S. involvement in long, costly conflicts with potentially high U.S. casualties and extensive local civilian damage.

In response, the military Services are all evolving visions of their organizations and concepts of operation for future warfare. All recognize that they will be involved in such operations under joint command and with the need to operate jointly. However, the visions remain to be fully formulated and are not all consistent with each other. They differ especially in the areas of the very same questions of joint organization and operations, and also in consideration of operations in and around the highly urbanized and populated areas that will constitute the main zones of military conflict.

There are, nevertheless, many common elements in the Services' visions of their futures. The most critical of them are as follows:

  • The conviction, well founded, that the U.S. advantage in any conflict lies in advanced technology, especially technology related to the “war” for information. This includes technologies associated with command, control, communications, computing, and intelligence (C4I). The technology advance is reflected in the ability to find the military opposition; to know what the opponents are doing and to predict their activities based on real-time observation and on intelligence data; to precisely locate and identify hostile, friendly, and neutral forces in both space and time; to rapidly synthesize an accurate picture of the battlefield or zone of conflict for force maneuver and for weapon delivery; and to perform maneuvers and weapon delivery with precision. It also involves the ability to deny such information and weapon delivery to the opposition. Beyond that, there is concern about

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