U.S. Low-Intensity Conflicts 1899-1990
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
Pagination or Media Count:
Multifarious low-intensity conflicts LICs, which occupy the imprecise space between normal peacetime competition and combat equivalent to that in Korea and Vietnam, have threatened or supported important U.S. interests throughout the Twentieth Century. Recurrence seems certain, perhaps at increased rates, because successful LIC operations allow highly-developed states to achieve selected objectives while reducing risks in a world where the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, missile delivery systems, and other sophisticated devices makes mid- and high-intensity warfare increasingly unattractive to rational decisionmakers. LIC techniques that are cheap to employ but costly to counter also may enable weak nations and subnational groups such as transnational terrorists, insurgents, and narcotic cartels to compete effectively with powerful opponents, much like Lilliputians tied Gulliver. Officials responsible for U.S. national security consequently need abilities to deter and, if necessary, conduct LIC operations of all kinds whenever and wherever situations require. Incompetence otherwise might result in destabilized friendly governments, isolate them from the United States politically and economically, reduce U.S. access to crucial resources and sea lanes, deprive America of important privileges particularly transit rights and overseas facilities, and open opportunities for opponents to exploit resultant U.S. weaknesses.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics