Landpower forum: broad cooperation necessary for 'persistent influence'

By J.D. LeipoldNovember 3, 2014

An M1A2SEP Abrams tank from Company C, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment 'Desert Rogues,' 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, sits ready while others complete the night portion of a Gunnery Table VI in the background at Red Clou... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 29, 2014) -- In the last five decades, the world's population has almost tripled and people have been empowered through the Internet and other technologies, said the commander of Army Special Operations.

Weapons that in the past belonged only to governments are now found in the hands of non-state actors and even individuals, said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, USASOC commander. He said this requires not only conventional and Special Forces to work together, but explained "persistent influence" requires like-minded militaries and agencies to work together.

Cleveland moderated an Oct. 15 session on Strategic Landpower, at the Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting and Symposium, here.

"Landpower today does in fact have a strategic quality to it," he said, adding that between the time he was born and now, the world's population has increased from 2.5 billion to more than 7 billion people, who are now connected through the Internet.

This interconnected world "requires that you have some form of persistent influence out there, and not just U.S. influence," said Cleveland. "The chief talks about a global landpower network. What he's talking about is the idea of armies of other countries and groups in other countries who have like-minded interests in peace and stability, and better governance."

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities Center and deputy commanding general for Futures at Training and Doctrine Command, offered up the four fundamental continuities of the nature of war and what the implications were for Special Forces and conventional forces working together to prevent future conflicts, shape security environments and win wars.

"First of those is that war is fundamentally political. War is an extension of politics," he said. "The political dimension of war is important because we have to conduct military operations in a way that contributes to those sustainable political outcomes consistent with our vital interests and what brought us into the fight to begin with."

McMaster said the second continuity in the nature of war is that it is human, of course, and that national security threats emanate from land because that's where people live and they are of course people-based problems that are across all domains including cyberspace.

"The third is that war is uncertain, so we have to adapt continuously to changing situations -- situations that change because of the complexity of the political and human dimension to war," he said. "Finally, war is a contest of wills, and we have to remember that as we develop our future force and develop our understanding of how Army forces fit in to overall joint efforts."

Sara Sewall, under secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, offered observations about the threat landscape as it looks from the State Department.

"When you're thinking about preventive action, you're thinking about State in the lead; you're not thinking about DOD in the lead," she said. "That doesn't mean that there's not a role for landpower... but I think from the state perspective, that preventive action is something that is really led by civilian agencies."

Viva Bartkus, an associate professor of management at the University of Notre Dame, added her take on what creates conditions for conflict saying that if a nation's gross domestic product, "the wealth of the nation" is halved, the chance for war doubles "and that's poverty," she said.

"If you nearly decrease the economic growth rate of a country by one percent, you increase the chance of conflict by one percent, that's hopelessness," Bartkus said. "The combination of poverty and hopelessness create many of the conditions that we see for conflict."

Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, also an historian and lecturer, said contributing factors for insurgency ranged from extremist political ideology, religion, lack of water, poverty to "development gone awry."

"I would argue to you, it comes down to two little words -- bad governance," he said, adding that while the military does a great job at eliminating leaders of terrorist groups, it hasn't eliminated those organizations.

"The key to really defeating an insurgency is to win over the people, then get a better government in by cultivating the right people," he said. "We need a nation-building agency that really focuses and tries to mobilize nation-building expertise from across the U.S. government."

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