Disengaging from Consequence Management
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Almost twenty years ago, Caspar Weinberger defined the uses of military power in remarks made before a luncheon meeting at the National Press Club. The Secretary of Defense outlined six conditions to be met before committing troops overseas. They required that any decision that put the Armed Forces in harms way must be based on vital national interests, a clear determination to win, well-defined political and military objectives, a continuing reassessment of the relationship between force structure and objectives, a reasonable assurance of popular support, and the appeal to the use of force only as a last resort. One does not have to be a fan of the so-called Weinberger doctrine to appreciate the benefit of ending military operations in a timely and decisive manner. Leaders value planning that enables disengaging from one operation and deploying to another. And the same capability is valued in domestic assistance. Indeed, it is notable that the current Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has registered his reluctance to commit military assets to aid civilian authorities without a clear exit strategy. Although planning is a scarce commodity during the early stages of such operations, part of the process should be dedicated to exit planning as well as engagement planning. Like disengaging from overseas commitments, exiting domestic missions is not exclusively a military decision. But while the Armed Forces are supporting partners, they need not be passive. Active interagency partnerships are essential in creating an effective disengagement strategy.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Forces and Organizations