Land power fundamental to strategic success within human domain
February 25, 2013
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- During the opening day of the 2013 Association of the United States Army's 2013 Winter Symposium and Exposition, senior leaders highlighted the Army's unique capabilities within the joint force to influence populations, shape the operational environment and achieve long-lasting strategic victory.
Lt. Gen. Keith C. Walker, Training and Doctrine Command deputy commanding general of Futures and director of Army Capabilities Integration Center, said "in the final analysis, tactical and operational success rests on controlling the air, sea, land, cyber and space domains," but added that strategic success requires lasting influence over the human domain.
During an Institute of Land Warfare presentation titled "The Nation's Strategic Hedge," Walker emphasized how influence over the human domain was the critical element in achieving lasting peace, and a key role the U.S. Army will play in future joint operations.
"The U.S. must never enter a conflict with a strategic plan limited to engaging and destroying an enemy's forces," Walker explained. "Lasting strategic success is not a function of enemy units eliminated or targets destroyed. A successful strategic outcome rests … on the ability of Soldiers, Marines and special operations forces to defeat an enemy force and seize and hold territory by direct physical interaction with local populations … in order to create the conditions of a lasting peace."
Walker provided historical perspective by explaining how it was land power that ultimately brought about strategic victory in World War II.
"Without diminishing the role of air or sea power," he said, "It was land power that brought about victory in Europe, later the rehabilitation of Germany, and it was through land power that the U.S. wrested away Japan's key strategic outposts, allowing our Navy and U.S. Army Air Corps to close with the Japanese home islands."
Walker also noted that the U.S. success in World War II was no accident, but the result of Army and Marine Corps professionals who spent years in between the world wars thinking long and hard about the future of war and land power's role in it. "This was a time of intellectual ferment," Walker said, "and one of the great lessons the Marines and Army learned was that in periods of forced austerity like the great depression, thinking is absolutely free."
As the U.S. draws down its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Walker said the U.S. is transitioning to a period of innovation not unlike the interwar period -- a period where the Army and industry partners must work together to support forward-deployed forces in their efforts to succeed within complex future operating environments.
"Such a global environment suggests the need for continuous forward engagement of land forces -- that forward engagement is increasingly crucial to our success. Forward-deployed forces demonstrate our commitment to peace and stability in a region; they deter, they shape the environment, fulfilling perhaps our most important role of preventing a consequential event from ever occurring in the first place." He added that if hostilities start, land forces are immediately available to assist and enhance the joint effort, and that their presence and the partnerships they engender may well bring operational access without ever having to fight for it.
In closing, Walker emphasized that "without the combined capabilities and capacity of land power -- Army, Marines and special ops -- lasting strategic success anywhere in the world is at significant risk."