For a nation whose security is predicated on an enduring strategy of dissuasion, the most fundamental risk is failure of deterrence. To mitigate the risk, the U.S. must sustain a modern, ready, and capable military force, a responsive Interagency, and an engaged private sector. Strategic risk can also mount through the accumulation of shortfalls in recapitalization and modernization, stale approaches, and unwillingness to let go of outdated structures and hierarchical relationships. America’s global posture and future success depend upon the ability of its people to adopt new concepts, constructs and technologies, suitable to the ever-shifting dynamics of the strategic environment.
In the age of knowledge, decision superiority, resiliency, agility, mutually supporting governance structures, and reliable partners are indispensable to victory. So is a holistic policy that balances today’s exigencies with the far-reaching implications of looming threats. America will succeed in the 21st century only by developing and resourcing a strategy that closes the gap between ends and means. The window of opportunity is shutting fast. Time is not on our side.
As a global power with global commitments and distant allies, the U.S. needs freedom of access across the global commons. Global reach, power and vigilance are the indispensable means through which America promotes and defends its interests, reassures allies, and deters opponents. This strategy, in turn, hinges on the ability to maneuver in all domains: on land, at sea, in the air, space, and cyberspace. Since these domains are increasingly interdependent, loss of dominance in any one could lead to loss of control in all.
No modern war has been won without maritime and air superiority. No future war will be won without maritime, air, space, and cyberspace superiority. To promote and defend America’s interests, the Joint Force must attain cross-domain dominance: the freedom to attack and the freedom from attack in and through: the oceans, the atmosphere, space, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Cross-domain dominance integrates systems, capabilities, and effects to gain competitive advantage in all domains. It maximizes synergies among the Services, generating a new array of simultaneous, synchronized effects—presenting multiple dilemmas to the opponent. This, in turn, allows Joint Force Commanders to achieve the desired outcomes in peace, crisis and war.
War is a human endeavor -- a contest of wills. The better trained, the more determined airman, sailor, soldier, marine, coastguardsman, or civilian will, ultimately, carry the day. People are America’s true asymmetric strength. The Nation cannot falter or fail to provide them the wherewithal to win.
The U.S. will have neither the buffer of time nor the barrier of oceans in future conflicts. The character, tempo and velocity of modern warfare already severely test America’s ability to adapt. Rising to this challenge is not a choice; it is a shared responsibility and a national imperative.
Dr. Lani Kass is the Corporate Strategic Advisor at CACI. She served as the Senior Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, directed the Air Force’s Cyber Task Force, served as Special Assistant to CSAF, and was the first woman Professor of Military Strategy at the National War College. During her 20 years at NWC, Dr. Kass educated several generations of the nation’s senior-most strategic leaders. She served the U.S. government with great distinction for 28 years and retired from Federal Service in September 2011.This article expresses her personal views and does not reflect the positions of any organization, public or private.
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