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Naval Institute Press
A War of a Different Kind: Military Force and America's Search for Homeland Security

A War of a Different Kind: Military Force and America's Search for Homeland Security

by Stephen M. Duncan


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The radically new homeland security, military, and legal strategies developed by the United States in the months following the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon are given comprehensive treatment in this book by a former senior Pentagon official, combat veteran, and criminal prosecutor. Stephen M. Duncan draws on a lifetime of military and legal experience to examine the many questions relating to the role of the armed forces in homeland security, including elements of constitutional and criminal law, foreign policy, tradition and custom, federal-state and inter-agency relations, and politics, as well as military strategy and operations.

Among the diverse subjects the author discusses are military tribunals and the International Criminal Court, the statute governing the use of military personnel in law enforcement, defense transformation, the constitutional power of the president, and the reorganization of the government to meet the terrorist threat. Duncan also discusses the strategy and tactics used in Afghanistan and Iraq and critically evaluates the nation's political leadership before and after the 9/11 attacks. His book gives readers access to a wealth of information essential to an understanding of the full picture and at the same time puts them in the midst of policy debates to grasp the immediacy of the situation. This important and absorbing historical narrative will attract general readers as well as those with experience in national security issues, politics, and the law.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591142201
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Publication date: 04/28/2004
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.31(d)
Age Range: 1 Year

About the Author

Stephen M. Duncan served as assistant secretary of defense in two administrations and as a federal criminal prosecutor in a third. A resident of Alexandria, Virginia, he is also the author of Citizen Warriors.

Read an Excerpt


Military Force and America's Search for Homeland Security

Naval Institute Press

Copyright © 2004 Stephen M. Duncan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-59114-220-2

Chapter One

The Unthinkable

[N]ight fell on a different world.

-President George W. Bush, Address to Congress, 20 September 2001

Almost eight months into the first year of the new millennium, most Americans were focused on routine as well as important domestic matters. Gloomy economic news and the resulting increase in public pessimism had triggered new debate on Wall Street and in Congress about how to respond. Speculation was growing that an anticipated report from the National Academy of Sciences would contain recommendations that differed significantly from the new Bush administration's policy regarding federal funding of human embryo cell research. The cover of a Time magazine asked, "Where Have You Gone, Colin Powell?" One of its articles explored the thesis that the secretary of state's star was shining "less brightly than expected." Editorialists were engaged with questioning the proper balance between interdiction/law enforcement and prevention/treatment in the war on drugs. The disappearance of a congressional intern and the continuing denial of knowledge about the disappearance by the California congressman for whom she had worked and with whom she had had an affair, was still receiving national attention. Sports fans were awaiting a decision by former NBA star Michael Jordan about whether to make a comeback with a team that had won only nineteen of eighty-two games the previous season.

At the Pentagon, efforts were under way to carry out the ambitious plans of the recently elected president. In a 23 September 1999 campaign speech at the Citadel in Charleston, George W. Bush had called for defense leaders to challenge the status quo and envision "a new architecture of American defense for decades to come." In an important article a few months later, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, who would become Bush's national security advisor, had asserted that "the next president should refocus the Pentagon's priorities on building the military of the 21st century rather than continuing to build on the structure of the Cold War. U.S. technological advantages should be leveraged to build forces that are lighter and more lethal, more mobile and agile, and capable of firing accurately from long distances." She identified four key priorities that should be addressed by the next administration, one of which was "to deal decisively with the threat of rogue regimes and hostile powers, which is increasingly taking the forms of the potential for terrorism and the development of weapons of mass destruction." A respected academic who would soon be appointed to the Pentagon's internal Defense Policy Board had written alter the election that U.S. military forces suffered from several serious, long-term problems. "The first," Eliot Cohen argued, "is strategic. American strategy still relies on a Cold War-derived understanding of military power and fails to focus on the challenges of the new century: homeland defense, a rising China, and what can only be termed 'imperial policing.'"

After the 2000 elections, a multitude of military analysts ventured forth with their own prescriptions. Most seemed to focus, at least implicitly, on the question of whether to engage or contain nations that had the potential to become a great-power challenger to U.S. interests. Two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee offered seven principles for shaping a new national security strategy, including a policy of "realistic restraint" in the use of U.S. military force. Gen. Tony Zinni, USMC, the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command, argued the inevitability of U.S. military forces being engaged in humanitarian operations, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and other nontraditional military missions. He categorically rejected the 1980s Weinberger-Powell doctrine, which had urged the use of U.S. combat forces only as a last resort, only for vital U.S. interests, only if there was reasonable assurance of public support, only if overwhelming force was used, only if the political and military objectives were clear, only if an exit strategy was in place, and only if the intent was to win.

This was not the first time in recent years that U.S. political and military leaders had reassessed the nation's defense strategy and our country's role in what was being referred to as the "post-Cold War world." Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 several significant assessments had been made of the military posture of the United States. Each had its strengths and weaknesses, but all had been criticized because they failed to reflect all the perceived changes in the international security environment.

When George H. W. Bush assumed the presidency in January 1989 the first breezes of the later storm winds of change in the security environment were already being felt. Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost were the subject of intense discussion. On 12 May 1989 the president declared that it was time to move beyond a foreign policy of the containment of communism to "a new policy for the 1990s-one that recognizes the full scope of the change taking place around the world." As the months passed, worldwide political change seemed to accelerate. On 25 August the Solidarity movement gained power in Poland, thus becoming the eastern bloc's first noncommunist government. On 9 November the East German government opened the Berlin Wall. On 29 December Václav Havel, a former leading opponent of communism in Czechoslovakia, was elected his country's president.

In 1990 the worldwide political upheaval continued. On 11 March the Lithuanian parliament declared independence from the Soviet Union. On 18 March the first free elections were held in East Germany. On 4 May the Latvian parliament declared independence. In his March 1990 statement of the national security strategy, the president described the change in the international landscape as "breath-taking in its character, dimension, and pace." The "familiar moorings of post-war security policy," he said, were being loosened "by developments that were barely imagined years or even months earlier."

On 2 August 1990 President Bush hoped to start building momentum for substantial changes in both the defense strategy and the size and shape of the U.S. Armed Forces. In remarks prepared earlier for delivery in Aspen, Colorado, during a visit by Margaret Thatcher, Britain's prime minister, the president declared, "We are entering a new era: The defense strategy and military structure needed to ensure peace can and must be different." Fate intervened to obscure his words. Early in the morning of the same day, two armored divisions and a mechanized infantry division of the Iraqi Republican Guard attacked targets in Kuwait. Commando teams and a special operations force attacked other targets. The United States soon turned from the complexities associated with the end of the Cold War to those associated with the conduct of a hot one eight thousand miles away. The military intervention was called Desert Storm.

Work in the Pentagon became intense. Even as a military force of more than a half million troops and its logistical support was being transported to Saudi Arabia for the armed conflict against Iraq, efforts continued to shape and reduce the overall size of the military force structure that would be included in the president's defense budget recommendations to Congress in January 1991. Since the early months of 1990 a major policy debate on the subject had been taking place. In my official capacity as the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, I was in the middle of the debate. A major factor influencing the discussions was the congressional mandate contained in section 1101 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1990; it required the secretary of defense to convene a study group to consider several issues, including the "optimal structure of military forces required to meet the threat." An interim report had to be submitted to Congress by 15 September 1990 and the final report was due 31 December.

Opinion within Congress on what the study was really supposed to accomplish was mixed. Some members had an almost naive hope for a recommendation that would be quantitatively based and so rational and free of political bias and value judgments as to constitute some sort of inevitable truth. Others were merely seeking support for their own views. As discussed elsewhere, complex decisions about the design of a nation's armed forces inevitably involve judgment. There is no mathematical formula that will guarantee a perfect military strategy or a perfect size, shape, and active/reserve mix of military forces. The exercise of judgment necessarily requires choices among competing factors and interests, all of which entail some risk.

Eventually, the Bush administration recommended to Congress a force referred to as a "base force"; it was defined as that force structure below which the nation should not go if the United States wanted "to retain superpower status." The general idea was to reduce the military forces by approximately 25 percent and to maintain a relatively vigorous tempo of operations until further developments made it clear that the long-standing Soviet threat really had dissipated. In round numbers, the proposed force would include 12 active army divisions and 8 Army National Guard or reserve divisions; 450 navy ships, including 12 aircraft carriers; 16 active U.S. Air Force tactical fighter wings and 12 Air National Guard or reserve tactical fighter wings along with modernized airlift capability in the air force; 3 active U.S. Marine Corps division/air wing teams; and undefined numbers of special operations forces. The base force recommendations quickly became obsolete. On Christmas Day 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The ambiguity to which President Bush had referred earlier instantly became greater.

Soon after the Clinton administration assumed office in January 1993, Les Aspin, Clinton's secretary of defense, commenced what became known as the bottom-up review (BUR). Agreeing that the new post-Cold War security environment was "more complicated, more ambiguous, and constantly changing" and asserting that a national defense was needed to meet "the real dangers of the new era," the BUR attempted to select "the right strategy, force structure, modernization programs, and supporting industrial base and infrastructure" for the new era. The recommendations of the BUR were presented to Congress on 1 September 1993.

The key factor in the BUR, just as it had been to a great extent in the base force recommendations, was "the number of major regional conflicts (MRCs) for which the United States had to prepare." The recommended force structure from the BUR, scheduled to be achieved by 1999, would, so Aspin argued, "achieve decisive victory in two nearly simultaneous MRCs." It included l0 active army divisions and 37 Army National Guard brigades (15 with enhanced readiness); 346 navy ships, including 11 active aircraft carriers and 1 reserve/training carrier; 13 active air force tactical fighter wings and 7 Air National Guard or reserve tactical fighter wings; and 3 active marine expeditionary forces.

Members of Congress and many reformers outside of the government, however, remained frustrated with continuing interservice rivalry and what was perceived to be a combination of institutional inertia and a lack of vision by Pentagon leaders. The slowness of change was not the result of intentional resistance so much as cultural factors, such as a reluctance to reduce current readiness to meet current threats in order to develop future readiness for future threats. Eliot Cohen described the cause of the inertia: "Having won its wars cheaply (if not decisively), buttressed by formal and informal lobbies that understand their interests well, and led by competent but harried men and women who have neither the time nor the inclination to question their institutions' methods of doing business, the military will resist transformation."

After making a formal finding that the BUR was insufficient "on several points, including (A) the assumptions underlying the strategy of planning to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts; (B) the force levels recommended to carry out that strategy; and (C) the funding proposed for such recommended force levels," and concluding that a more comprehensive review was needed, Congress took action. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, which became effective on 1 October 1996, contained a "Military Force Structure Review Act of 1996" subsection. Originally sponsored as an amendment by Senator Joseph Lieberman, the legislation established a quadrennial defense review (QDR) process.

Designed to force each new administration to review the nation's defense program at the beginning of its term of office, the new law required the current secretain of defense, "in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," to complete a comprehensive examination of the defense program in 1997. In order to obtain an independent (i.e., outside of the Pentagon) nonpartisan evaluation of the work of the QDR, the legislation authorized a nine member National Defense Panel. The duties of the panel were to assess both the results of the QDR and to submit a variety of possible force structures of the U.S. Armed Forces through the year 2010 and beyond. Not later than 15 May 1997 the secretary of defense was required to submit to Congress a report of the results of the QDR, including the panel's assessment of it.

In a message that accompanied his 1997 submission of the QDR report, new Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen declared that the nation could not expect to "comprehend fully or predict the challenges that might emerge from the world beyond the time lines covered in normal defense planning and budgets." Having determined that the United States must continue to be engaged globally, that is, the country must exercise "strong leadership in the international community" and retain the goal of being capable of winning two major theater wars nearly simultaneously, Cohen recommended a transformation of the U.S. Armed Forces. This was defined vaguely as an exploitation of "the potential of information technologies and [the] leverage [of] other advancing technological opportunities [that would] transform warfighting."

Only policy analysts who had operated in Washington for years could have anticipated the enormous fallout from Cohen's use of the word transformation in referring to changes needed within the country's armed forces. The term quickly became the new buzzword of the Pentagon, congressional staffers, and defense contractors.


Excerpted from A WAR OF A DIFFERENT KIND by STEPHEN M. DUNCAN Copyright © 2004 by Stephen M. Duncan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1The Unthinkable1
2Locust Years24
3Counterterrorism Strategy on the Run48
4Organizing at Home for a Long War79
5The Threat and the Bureaucratic Maze103
6Posse Comitatus and Military Force117
7Mobilizing the Citizen Warriors141
8American Due Process and the Laws of War167
10Building for Tomorrow213
Postscript: A Volatile Second Year242

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