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Fighting Words: Communications and Extended Deterrence in the 21st Century

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Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

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US Army School of Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Recent policy documents and US Army doctrine have stressed the return of inter-state strategic competition. The attention on near-peer competition is a departure from the emphasis on counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and stability operations that has dominated military and foreign policy circles since September 11, 2001. The renewed focus on inter-state competition is accompanied by an urgency to reassure the allies and partners of the United States of Americas security guarantee in the face of aggression and intimidation by revisionist powers such as China and Russia. This monograph examines the four parts of an effective deterrent threat it must be capable, credible, calculated, communicated as outlined in Thomas Schellings seminal Cold War work, Arms and Influence. These variables serve as the lens of analysis for four cases studies of extended deterrence two that were successes, and two that were failures. This monograph establishes that the qualities of an effective extended deterrent threat hold true across time and space, and outside of the Cold War paradigm. The author concludes that while the essential variables of an effective extended deterrence threat remain unchanged, communication is not only the most important of the four, but also the one most influenced by new technologies and social trends. The author concludes that the United States can harness social media to better communicate extended deterrent threats to challengers, and to reassure allies and partners.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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