The QDR: Make a Bold Move

By John H Cushman

Soon after the QDR appeared, the Congressionally mandated nine-member National Defense Panel reviewed it, urging "stronger reliance on JV 2010 in every facet of future defense planning," commenting on "the need for military adaptation and innovation," and saying that "to the extent that the QDR views major theater warfare as a traditional force-on-force challenge, this view inhibits the transformation of the American military to fully exploit our (technological) advantages." The panel clearly holds that the Defense Department has a good way to go before it captures the promise of Joint Vision 2010

The panel is scheduled to release its final report this December. It should include the following recommendations:

  • That the United States install a new strategy and operational concept to cope with the threat in Korea
  • That the United States, starting now, and consistent with that new strategy and operational concept, boldly deploy in Korea key elements outlined in Joint Vision 2010.

Change is coming on the Korean Peninsula. No one can tell if, how, or when the North will fall apart, or how the inevitable unification of the peninsula will occur. The essential requirement is to make the transition without war.

The present strategy in Korea is to deter a North Korean attack. Failing that, the strategy is to defeat the North Koreans using Republic of Korea (ROK) forces reinforced by multidivision U.S. land, sea and air forces. The strategy concedes the possible-even probable-initial loss of Seoul to the North Koreans.

This is a far cry from the mid-1970s, when the United States and the Republic of Korea were committed a new "forward defense strategy" that said we would defend Seoul, not evacuate it. Senior commanders publicly warned the North that an attack would be foolhardy in the extreme and told all who would listen that Seoul would be held. That sort of language has not been heard of late. On 12 December 1993, Air Force Chief of Staff General Merrill McPeak told the Washington Post, "I just can't answer whether we could stop them before they get to Seoul or not." Two days later, General Shalikashvili said much the same.

The great danger has always been a North Korean miscalculation-and language like this can lead to disaster; North Korea has given little evidence of abandoning its dream of reuniting the Korean Peninsula by force.

Under these conditions the new strategy and operational concept for Korea should be:

  • Virtual certain deterrence of any attack by convincing North Korea that U.S./ROK air and missile forces will devastate its homeland and that it has a zero chance of prevailing in any conflict
  • If deterrence fails, stopping North Korea north of Seoul by reinforcing ROK forces with a restructured 2nd Infantry Division (redesignated Air Assault) which, like today's 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), has 72 tank killing AH-64 Apaches.

In Korea, the United States should apply Joint Vision 2010 now, without delay, as a demonstration and joint test bed. The promise of Joint Vision 2010's technical innovation is already at hand-in information superiority, in precision engagement both through air and missile attack and Army Apaches, in dominant maneuver to the battlefield through immediate strategic reinforcement with Air Force air, Navy air and missiles, and Army aviation, and in dominant maneuver on the battlefield with air-assault tactics and tank-killing aviation-not to mention opportunities for full-dimensional protection and focused logistics.

Why wait?


More by this Author

None found for this author.

Events and Conferences

None found for this author.


Conferences and Events

WEST 2017

Tue, 2017-02-21 - Thu, 2017-02-23

San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Tuesday, 21 February - Thursday, 23 February 2017 Co-Sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute. Registration...

View All

From the Press

Guest Speaker & Book Signing

Thu, 2016-12-08

Guest Speaker & Book Signing

Tue, 2016-12-13

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership