Back Next 



Rationale for integration of non-lethal weapons into US Air Force (1986)

Excerpted from:


Lt Col David J. Dean, USAF, _Editor_

With a Foreword by CONGRESSMAN NEWT GINGRICH [Pentagon Defense Policy Board, 2001]

Air University Press, Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, June 1986. ----------------------------------------------------------------

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data

Low-intensity conflict and modern technology.

Papers presented at a workshop conducted by Air University Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education (CADRE), March 1984. Includes bibliographies. 1. Low-intensity conflicts--Congresses. 2. Munitions--Congresses. I. Dean, David J. II. Air University (U.S.) Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education. U104.L69 1986 355'.0218 86-3537 ---



The United States is on the verge of a dramatic change in its ability to cope with low-intensity conflict. We must become a great deal better in the process of fighting this kind of "small war"; the world will not give us any choice. We may learn to adjust our current systems, procedures, and understanding quickly and intelligently, in which case we will come to cope with low-intensity conflict very rapidly. Or, we may learn this difficult art in a grudging, confused, and halting manner, in which case the next 20 years will be very painful and very expensive, both for the United States and for the case of freedom.

This book is a serious effort to make thinking about and working on low-intensity conflict easier, more understandable, and more effective. It is a major contribution to what is a growing literature and dialogue on the obligation of the United States to respond to the challenge of low-intensity conflict. This book is needed because the United States finds itself dramatically challenged by conflict below the level of full-scale war. Unfortunately, our recent intellectual and bureaucratic traditions and systems fail to address adequately the challenge of low-intensity conflict. The organization of power in the State and Defense Departments and the relationships between the Congress, the news media, and the executive branch are all unsuited to fighting a low-intensity conflict effectively.

The United States has a long history of coping rather successfully with low-intensity threats. From the opening up of the West by the US Cavalry in the face of the American Indian to the Philippine insurrection at the turn of the century to the US Army's pursuit of Pancho Villa into northern Mexico to the US Marine Corps presence in Nicaragua and Haiti in the twenties, the United States systematically subdued low-intensity threats to America's policies. Generally, these forces were used almost without debate or news coverage. The country went about the process of becoming more prosperous and more powerful in the pursuit of everyday life, while allowing its professional soldiers to engage quietly in dirty little wars in faraway places with almost no regard for legal nicety or the technical problems of international law.

However, the dominant tradition of the American State Department, the American news media, and the average American intellectual community was shaped not by the American experience in the West or the Philippines or Mexico and Central America, but rather by the nineteenth century tradition of European thought. The European tradition is based on the concept of sovereignty and formal declarations of war. Sophisticated lawyers focused on the laws of England, Germany, and France. Sophisticated academicians educated in England, Germany, and France came to shape the concept of legality which had application to Europe, but totally ignored European behavior outside of that continent. In Europe, boundaries were not to be crossed by foreign armed forces without a formal declaration of war. Once the boundaries were crossed, a formal war would immediately ensue. That practice did not pertain to most of the world. British colonial expeditions against local tribes, bandits, and guerrilla operations, for example, were routine and primarily military. These expeditions went virtually unreported except in books like those of Winston Churchill. When they were covered it was as spectacular adventures against backward local natives. The emphasis was almost always on the heroism of the British rather than on the use of overpowering force against clearly overmatched natives simply fighting for their own freedom. If the British campaigns against the Mahdi, the Zulu, and the Afghans in the nineteenth century were covered today, we would notice major shifts in emphasis and bias in that coverage. The British approach to low-intensity conflict in the nineteenth century was virtually schizophrenic. This approach had no place among the legal niceties of international laws that governed sovereign states which tended to be only European. Thus, wars could be fought in the gray area between civilized and uncivilized nations without anyone noticing. The post-World War II United Nations declared, in effect, that all of us are civilized and have human rights. The European concepts of sovereignty and international law became applicable to all people. This new approach radically changes the approach of low-intensity conflict.[work-around needed to circumvent human rights law]

It requires that an entire new area of international law be developed with those situations in which one state does not wish to declare war, but, nevertheless, finds itself engaged in violent action or facing the potential for violent action with other states. This area of international life lacks an intellectually adequate American tradition. Our first great challenge in the area of low-intensity conflict, is in the next 20 years, to invent a theory of law and structure of behavior that allows us to survive and win "small wars," with a framework that maintains certain basic rights for every human being.
[ = "war on terror" framework, pseudo humanitarian wars--Serbia, Libya...--contributor]

In addition, in the nineteenth century tradition, there was no serious consideration given to systematic organized terrorism. There were occasional acts of violence committed by specific and usually identifiable anarchists. These acts were mostly dealt with by various police forces operating quietly on the fringes of society, in situations in which the policemen were heroes. There was almost no consideration given to the possibility that a sovereign government was backing the anarchists. Thus, there was no state-backed terrorism which directly threatened a particular government. Whether it is the Irish Republican Army, the Palestine Liberation Organization, or Islamic fanatics [ mujahedin funding began 1979-cont.] with direct backing from Libya, Iran, or Syria or indirect backing from Cuba and the Soviet Union [or direct backing by William Casey-cont.] , state-backed terrorism poses a new threat to the West for which we have no framework to respond. We are going to have to develop a capacity for striking at the cause of terrorism and the source [domestic phoenix program] of terrorist support if we are to survive in a free country. That is the second great challenge of our time in low-intensity conflict.

Finally, in the nineteenth century, there was no single empire systematically creating conflicts around the planet, looking for weaknesses in its opponents which could be exploited by new methods of warfare violence. The simple fact is the Soviet empire and its colonies have studied the West and have come to the conclusion that our greatest vulnerability is in low-intensity conflict. In this type of conflict, the Soviet Union suffers little if its client is defeated but gains greatly if its client wins. Since the Soviets have discovered the blind spot in our intellectual armor for competition [-US achilles heel was its democratic traditions & selective respect for human rights; the baby thrown out w/ the bathwater--cont.], we can expect more and more low-intensity conflict for the foreseeable future. Only when we have developed a deterrent to low-intensity conflict [= war of terror & 'the database' proxy irregulars' --cont.] as successful as our nuclear deterrent and our deterrence of conventional war in Europe will we be able to suppress Soviet efforts in this area. As long as the Soviet Union thinks it can cause the United States trouble in Central America while we do them little harm in Afghanistan, and as long as they can begin various minor wars using second and third level puppets, clients, and colonies while we are incapable of responding except by the direct use of American forces, the Soviets are going to have a great advantage. They are going to pursue this zone of international competition with great intensity and great savagery. Intellectually, politically, and professionally, low-intensity conflict may be the most serious area of competition with the Soviet Empire over the next 30 years [Newt the oracle—they went down 5 years after this writing--cont.] . The free world must find a legal, political, and diplomatic formula which enables us to cope with low-intensity conflict. Until we find a way to deal with Soviet-supported or other low-intensity conflict, we are going to remain at a grave disadvantage in the competition for survival on this planet. This book is a serious step toward grappling with the technical, intellectual, and military problems of low-intensity conflict. The breadth of topics covered clearly indicates the complexity and range of difficulties which Americans and our allies in the free world have to explore if we are to develop a successful response to low-intensity conflict. Any student of American survival and any citizen concerned with understanding how this nation can cope with the challenge of low-intensity conflict more effectively will be served by studying this work. Its authors are to be commended for a job well done and a process well initiated.

[Original signed] Newt Gingrich House of Representatives [...] (Pages 249 to 260)