Deterrence in Professional Military Education
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIR FORCE RESEARCH INST
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It is now commonplace to hear or read about the urgent need for fresh thinking on deterrence and for rebuilding the intellectual and analytic enterprise that produced concepts which guided the West through the existential dangers of the Cold War. We hear this admonition from senior civilian and military leaders, subject- matter experts, and commentators and we hear it with good reason. No one paying attention would disagree that we face deterrence challenges that are different and in some ways more complex than those we encountered in the Cold War or even the first phase of the post Cold War period. In the emerging security environment, we confront a broader array of antagonists armed with a wider range of conventional and unconventional capabilities consequently, we must consider the possibility of crises and conflicts with which we have little experience and that could unfold in ways difficult to predict and rehearse. Questions that preoccupied us during the Cold War how to promote stability, deter nuclear attacks, and manage the risks of escalation are still with us, although in very new contexts that now encompass novel factors such as cyber weapons and hybrid warfare. The institutional response to this set of challenges in the Department of Defense DOD is a work in progress in key areas such as concept development, planning, capabilities, leader awareness, and education. We have made progress in acquiring a stronger understanding of adversary doctrine and developing deterrence concepts that can guide operational planning moreover, complex escalation scenarios increasingly are the focus of tabletops and war games in the strategic forces community. Nevertheless, significant deficits exist at the regional level, where geographical combatant commands still struggle to understand how conventional conflicts could escalate to the nuclear level and what that would mean for US campaign plans.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History