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Hollow Force: Scare or Dare?

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Research rept. Aug 93-Apr 94,

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As the defense drawdown continues, there is a deep-seated concern about the readiness of military forces. Many leaders in Congress, Department of Defense, and the Services remember the turbulent era in the 1970s when the military was characterized as a hollow force. In this context a hollow force implies giving the appearance of readiness when in fact, the capability is really not there. This paper studies the history of the hollow force of the 1970s and reflects on the potential for hollowness again in the 1990s. The debate focuses on the potential of hollowness as a scare or a dare. If hollowness is a scare, it suggests an inevitability of unreadiness which will occur regardless of actions taken to avoid it. Conversely, if hollowness is a dare it presents a challenge which decision-makers can overcome if they take proactive measures. In the final analysis, there are four proactive measures which leaders must take to avoid another hollowness. These include developing better predictive systems to analyze indicators leading to hollowness streamlining the infrastructure to do away with overhead costs and redundancy planning defense drawdown cuts which leave remaining units well supported and emphasizing integrity and honesty. World events and technology have changed the face of warfare. One thing has not changed-future military forces will still require readiness support. During the defense transition, we may face temporary shortages and slight declines in readiness. We should not allow this to scare us into inaction. The real challenge--the dare--is to ensure military readiness in the next millennium.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations

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