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The Challenges of Peace

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Journal article

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Americans are at a crossroads in history similar to the one we faced in the middle of this century. The Allied victory in World War II transformed the international system, and leaders recognized that there could be no return to traditional policies. Economic devastation and political instability in Europe, conflict in China, the advent of nuclear weapons--all posed immediate and long-term threats to the well-being of the United States and her allies. President Truman recognized the nature of the changes in his 1949 inaugural address Each period of our national history has its special challenges. Those that confront us now are as momentous as any in the past. Today marks the beginning of a period that will be eventful, perhaps decisive, for us and the world. President Truman and others created a national strategy of containment. However, it is the process of defining and carrying out a successful strategy, rather than the strategy itself, that is instructive. For while we now look back on containment as an obvious choice, nothing was guaranteed not the strategy itself, not the instruments through which it was carried out, and certainly not its success. The military requirements to execute containment were, in the simplest terms, large standing military forces, nuclear and conventional. By the end of the Cold War, the Army had more than four divisions based in Europe, 11 more in the continental United States ready to reinforce rapidly, and a large reserve establishment. But that snapshot from the end of the Cold War is far different from what we understood the requirements to be at its beginning. The need for a large, well-trained, standing Army was driven home by North Koreas attack in 1950 until then many were uncertain that we still needed such forces. Our commitment to NATO began as a temporary measure, eventually evolving into a robust defensive capability.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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