The Acme of Skill: Nonkinetic Warfare
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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Nonkinetic warfare, conflict that does not involve using force to inflict physical damage, is rapidly gaining in importance. Scholars of war even from the time of Sun Tzu have articulated that the enemys destruction is neither essential nor necessarily the best route to ultimate victory. The insurgency attributes that have characterized many wars since World War II suggest that the objective of warfare has shifted from the kinetic destruction of military forces to the nonkinetic impairment of the enemys will to fight. Four global trends identified in this paper -- economic prosperity, freedom of information, the rise of nationalism, and globalization and interdependence -- are possible causes for this shift because they make war a less attractive option than ever. As the last major conflict between major powers, the Cold War was won with barely a single kinetic conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union -- an excellent model of nonkinetic conflict and perhaps a sign of things to come. In the Cold War, the military largely played a supporting role. In an age characterized by the information revolution and globalization, the information and diplomatic instruments of power will rise in importance. Even in a supporting role, the military instrument nonetheless remains relevant, not least because kinetic conflict can never be ruled out. However, the militarys nonkinetic potential needs to be developed for it to be more effective in todays world. Three ways to achieve this end are to develop an interagency approach to the military, assign a supporting diplomatic role to the military, and develop a comprehensive and coherent information strategy not only for the military, but for all levels of government.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Unconventional Warfare