Cognitive Targeting: A Coercive Air Power Theory for Conventional Escalation Control Against Nuclear Armed Adversaries
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB
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With the resurgence of Russia, the rise of China, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to regional powers such as North Korea, the post-Cold War geo-political environment characterized by U.S. hegemony is fading away. In the emerging, multipolar environment, the likelihood of engaging in an escalating conventional conflict with a nuclear-armed opponent is increasing. The assumptions and theories that guided U.S. military successes in the Cold War, and the post-Cold War era no longer have explanatory power in the emerging environment. This study analyses the applicability of three operational targeting paradigms to coerce a nuclear-armed adversary in a regional crisis, while simultaneously deterring nuclear aggression, thereby de-escalating the conflict. This study uses J. F. C. Fullers three spheres of war to order the principles and elements of war and understand the coercive ability of utility targeting a capabilities-based targeting paradigm, CBTP, axiological targeting a will-based targeting paradigm, WBTP, and cognitive targeting a decision-based targeting paradigm, DBTP. By examining the order of each targeting model, along with its ability to coerce and deter - based on the doctrine and policy of nuclear-armed adversaries - this analysis suggests that cognitive targeting is the only paradigm that can produce positive results in coercing action while deterring nuclear escalation.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Government and Political Science
- Nuclear Warfare