This html article is produced from an uncorrected text file through optical character recognition. Prior to 1940 articles all text has been corrected, but from 1940 to the present most still remain uncorrected. Artifacts of the scans are misspellings, out-of-context footnotes and sidebars, and other inconsistencies. Adjacent to each text file is a PDF of the article, which accurately and fully conveys the content as it appeared in the issue. The uncorrected text files have been included to enhance the searchability of our content, on our site and in search engines, for our membership, the research community and media organizations. We are working now to provide clean text files for the entire collection.
asing proportion of the population remembers ler World War II nor Korea. The U. S. citizen
age was three years old at the start of the rean War and a teenager during the Cuban Mis- ns>s- For him, the sorry state of our military
Paredness before World War II and Korea does
muL'iiiiduun, it ill Uitav-
an^C^tions- Just as World War C World War n- orea were referred to as "the last war” by our nts and grandparents, Vietnam has become the
cj . 0se of us in the military profession have a spe- a obligation to the citizens we protect to explain what we perceive to be the requirements for in security. This is no easy proposition when an
tj 1 ev°ke memories of unpreparedness, great na- trauma, and mobilization, as it does in older
Tli — *
l5gQ,ar t0 this generation of Americans. In the °Ut S' most Americans supported preparedness as an of the lessons learned in the previous ^an ^ow> however, it has come to be viewed by V. y as one of the reasons we became involved in tveam' ^ we had been less able to get involved, Iocs 1p^lt n0t dave kecome involved, their argument learS j°r ad these reasons, the lessons we have ate ■ *n tdc previous three-quarters of a century tTjat'n dangcr of being ignored unless we can show stand0ur recommendations for preparedness and
structures are based on long-term naTh SCCUrity cons‘derations.
C. § CSe recent fluctuations in the perceived need for it j ' mihtary forces illustrate quite clearly how futile of t^t0 ^ase our military requirements on the moods P°st y.moment- We have experienced the immediate qUi , letnam withdrawal symptoms and seen how var ' ever>ts such as the October 1973 Arab-Israeli Can alter the situation. Both policymakers and ordinary citizens can, and frequently do, change their perspectives. Many of those opposed to involvement in Vietnam proposed aid for Israel in October 1973.
However, while moods and perceptions can change rapidly, military force structures evolve slowly. Even though we recognize this fundamental truth, the military has often been forced to defend force structures on the mood of the moment with arguments that appear paradoxical and unrealistic. Pursuing detente and simultaneously explaining the need for a continuing strong military posture, or seeking strategic arms limitations while developing new strategic systems are examples of this awkward position. The rationale for maintaining a strong military establishment and developing a force structure suitable to our needs cannot be based on the vagaries of the moment; it must be anchored in the hard rock of longterm U. S. interests and the realities of the world around us.
Today, perhaps more than at any time since World War II, we are on the doorstep of major new directions in world affairs. Many new factors are at play, but a few are paramount. First, the United States’ once commanding power in diplomacy and economics has been reduced in the years since World War II, and our military power is now matched by the Soviet Union. The directions of U. S. foreign policies, economic policies, and military force requirements for the rest of this century obviously will be affected by these power redistributions—in a manner impossible to foresee with any precision.
Second, there are many new combinations of power on the world scene. Europe is strong economically and weak politically. Japan, too, is economically strong and, like Europe, concerned that this
not have an adequate force structure unless we in ry profession can make a solid case for our views sent our recommendations and requirements in a that makes sense . .
strength be recognized by the incumbent superpowers. Nations rich in raw materials are gaining in strength as the result of their control of resources vital to the more advanced economies. China has awakened; great in years, she can aspire to new greatness simply because of her enormous size and the vigor, ingenuity, and resilience of her remarkable people. As political scientist Stanley Hoffmann observes, we have moved from a world dominated by a single strategic-diplomatic chessboard to a world dispersed into a variety of chessboards.1 The complexity of this situation is immediately apparent. Our ability to shape events and protect our interests in this complex game will determine whether we will be chessmasters or pawns in the years ahead.
Third, as events have altered the realities around us, so have they changed our security interests and voided our strategy. The physical containment of Communism is no longer a viable national policy. Geography has become important to the United States only insofar as changes in its control affect the overall U. S. teh tionships with other major powers. We must develop a set of relationships among the major power center* so that no combination of powers can threaten tbc political, economic, or physical security of the Unite1 States. This is a task for diplomacy. Yet, a foreign policy that attempts to deter and avoid nuclear tvat> keep the power balance in equilibrium, and assure the security of the United States, must be able to call uP°n military power on occasion to make it effective.
Stanley Hoffmann, "Choices,” Foreign Policy, Fall 1973, p. 5.
essential for modern industrial production. Europe Japan are even more dependent on overseas resou The political, economic, and security implication this burgeoning economic interdependence are aPP‘)C ent. Undoubtedly, they place added burdens on . world’s richest superpower, the United States. The oil embargo and the sharp differences between Eu , and the United States over how to deal with the P1 lem only serve to highlight the more fundatu j problems existing in food, energy, raw materials
Fourth, the advanced industrial nations are incre# ingly interdependent in trade and economic affairs an increasingly dependent on the rest of the world f°r energy and raw materials. The magnitude of this intet dependence is only now becoming fully visible. ^eSt ern Europe, Japan, and the United States alone condut over 60% of the world’s trade. Since I960, world tra has quadrupled; it now approaches $1 trillion pet T and is growing at a rate of more than 10% annual f The United States imports 69 of the 72 raw mated35
stakeent Such a development is of major concern. At trja ff’JaPan, and the United States, but also a second
^°netary affairs. The means to solve these problems yet to be devised, but the solutions or non- hons are going to govern world affairs for years aie.
aen presenting the case for the preservation of our •T power, the professional military officer must rec°gnize that there are four basic constituencies in- ^Vec* in providing forces for the national security. , ese constituencies include domestic, economic, for- *8n, and military policy advocates. Each group’s perl CtlVe influences its views as to the need for, and Pe of, military force structures. For instance, in a ^ fficant portion of the domestic constituency, there 35 been a pronounced change in attitude about the ^Jitary establishment in both the United States and
effenCre 1S a Scneral questioning of the relevance and ob'Ct*VeneSS militafy f°rce in achieving political iectivcs. The doubts are prompted by the destruc- anCSS mociern weaponry and also by this country’s Patent inability to control the initiatives of lesser Entries.
. e have also witnessed a so-called "social revolu- cion ” . •
]jj ’ °ne aspect of which has been an anti-military
h!°f large groups of citizens.
'nsti °re0VCr’ t*iere are fleep-seated doubts about our gov Utlons an<^ a certain degree of malaise in the rnrnents of the Western democracies. Govern- ffiis 3 auth°rity is being challenged continually, and U^Ut^^'establishment outlook is bound to affect the p.ary> one of our most visible establishments. priolnally’ WC ^iavc seen a pronounced shift in social asr'ries, with added emphasis on domestic programs opposed to defense and foreign programs, force °SC ^nvo^vec^ foreign policy view the military tjj requirements from quite a different perspective Aon t^ose involved with domestic affairs. In addi- di 1 t0 the primary goal of avoiding nuclear war, irig 1113(5 seek to prevent another power from achiev- the m3i°r regional or global hegemony. Consequently, prevnecessiry of maintaining a balance of power to
ls not only the triangular relationship between
fjjj-° e Evolving China, the Soviet Union, and the sgv Crates. And off, apart from the main arena, ^hin ot^er triangular juggling acts—for example cat)n ’ Japan, and the Soviets—are in progress and 0t be ignored.
Foreign policy strategists are likely to support a military force structure that assures rough parity with the Soviet Union, and one that will want to prevent any large area of the Third World from falling under either Russian or Chinese hegemony.
To be successful, the United States must be able to influence the perception by these countries of the relative balance of power in the world. The concept of influencing perceptions is hard for most Americans to understand. We have never been dependent on a superpower for protection and, in this century at least, we have not been in a position of casting about to see who is going to be on the winning side. However, for most small nations and many advanced ones, this perception of power is a vital ingredient in their policy determinations. Thus, U. S. foreign policy strategists will be concerned that our military force structure gives reality to the perception of power and is diplomatically useful.
Those concerned with economic policy will see international trade, finance, and economics as the major areas of conflict—areas in which they believe military power is less relevant. The solutions to the economic problems of the world have a direct bearing on our nation’s military security. Our present defense arrangements with Western Europe and Japan rely almost entirely on the U. S. nuclear shield. This basic relationship, despite many other changes, still appears to be intact. However, if we pursue economic policies that adversely affect our allies, or undercut our relationships with them, we run the danger of seriously bringing into question our intentions regarding provision of the nuclear shield. In other words, if they cannot trust us
for new weapons, force structures, and preparedness fundamental political-military considerations whichcSl) be readily perceived and understood in the presef>t' while being applicable to the future.
This may seem a difficult task, but in presenting c case for naval forces, we in the Navy and Marine have a well-stocked magazine of arguments. The df acteristics of naval forces fit well with the capab' requirements of today’s realities and future possibility
► Strategic Deterrence: Sea-based strategic missile systeI11 have proven to be the least vulnerable of all our stf3 regie forces. For the foreseeable future this invu
to work toward common interests in economics, can they trust us in some crisis situation to use our military power in the common interest when the chips are down? If our allies should come to the conclusion that we are an unreliable partner, the entire structure of our defense forces and basic concepts for defense would eventually have to be completely realigned. The opposite is also true; allies cannot undercut us, lest they force a withdrawal of our support.
From the perspective of military policymakers, the realities suggest several goals. First, they see the necessity for the maintenance of essential nuclear equality with the Soviet Union. Second, they see a continuing need for assuring the physical security of Western Europe (NATO) and Japan as an essential element in our own security. Third, they see the continuing need for counter-intervention forces. It was the counterintervention capability of the United States that prevented the Soviet Union from dominating the Middle East crisis of October 1973 or from taking actions which would be contrary to the long-term interests of the United States and its allies. Fourth, they see the need to maintain substantial military forces. Samuel Huntington argues that—as paradoxical as it may sound—the potential uses of military forces increase in an era of negotiation. Military alerts, deployments, mobilization, and weapon decisions are not only means of deterring aggression, they are also means of exerting pressure in negotiations. Thus, military strategists believe flexibility of the force structure and capabilities of the forces will be important adjuncts to negotiations, both in deterring conflict and actual crisis situations.
In the continuing debate on national security poW and military force structures, it is impossible to pred’ct whether it will be domestic concerns, foreign p°^lC' imperatives, economic factors, or military requirement that become dominant in shaping our military f°r£e structure. However, there is at least one certainty. w will not have an adequate force structure unless we 1(1 the military profession can make a solid case for °ut views and present our recommendations and requ>re ments in a manner that makes sense to the vafi°uS constituencies involved. Each constituency will have differing vision of the future, often colored by its °^!* perspective of world events. To predict the future perilous, so we should attempt to base our argum1
ability will be a key factor in maintaining our nuc
► Counter-intervention: Regardless of detente, there ^
still fundamental differences in the aspirations of £
Soviet Union and the United States. As long as 1
differences persist, there will be a need for forces 'vtl
can counter Soviet intervention in areas of direct in
est to the United States. Soviet military writers 1 made it clear that the U.S.S.R. will continue t° military power (especially naval power) to achieve P litical goals. The 1973 Middle East War exposed ^ nesses in the U. S. military force structure. For examP,^ our land-based forces and their equipment lacked p° ical mobility. They simply could not be taken | their present deployment areas for use in the . East without severe political repercussions. Depend
°ugh economically beneficial, is by no means essen-
t0 their survival or even to their present standard iving. For the advanced industrial nations, the bene-
^ Ucc the probability of such actions requires a ^ Uary force structure that can give credence to both q Perception as well as the reality of U. S. power.
Ur naval forces have provided this capabifity for 200 r(V' Because they are mobile, visible, and powerful servlnderS b' invests and capabilities, they can
aff C.C^e ^uai r°ie of keeping the sea lanes open and \ ,Cctang rhe perceptions of other nations, pla .reseen Events: The military is often accused of l)ri(?n’n8 for the last war, not the next one. There is oubtedly some truth in this observation as the ent debate over the proper force structure for sup- rrtlng U. S. commitments to Europe would indicate.
°n overseas bases was a drastic handicap; it can no l°nger be assumed that such bases will be available for Use by the United States in times of crisis. Rapidly deployable forces were in short supply; flexibility in employing these forces was limited by constraints on as*ng and by inappropriate weapon systems. Navy and Marine Corps officers can take pride in the fact that °ur limitations were only in force levels, not in types forces and capabilities. The changing realities of |°day dictate more political mobility and flexibility and ess dependence on overseas bases. Naval forces give Us these capabilities. Without them, we face increasing constraints on our ability to defend or promote the Rational interest.
Economic Interdependence: Oceanic commerce has be- COrne so important that the very survival of nations and the welfare of their peoples are dependent on the use of the seas. On any given day there are more an 5,000 ships at sea along the world’s trade routes, he deliberate disruption of the economic system of e advanced industrial nations would be a catastrophe . tremendous proportions. In contrast, the U.S.S.R. ls almost completely self-sufficient in energy and raw ^aterials. The Soviets’ participation in world trade,
s °f interdependence also result in their greatest vulnerability. The temptations to exploit this vulnerability r Political or economic gain are great, and the means . preventing such exploitation are limited. It is essen- tlal that we maintain visible and usable military power k 'hsure that political or economic coercion, backed y rriilitary force, is not used as a means of exploiting the herabilities of our economic interdependence, here are two ways that military force could be used k exploit our economic vulnerabilities: actually inter- tJ'ng with the movement of goods and materials over oceans, or through coercion which convinces sup- .ers °f raw materials that continued trading with the aUced industrial nations is not in their interest. To
But, even here, there is a consensus in objectives: only the means are in dispute. This consensus does not exist for other possible future wars. Thus, for instance, postulating a force structure that would be effective in assuring the continued availability of Middle East oil to the advanced industrial nations would immediately draw vehement political objections and could adversely affect current U. S. foreign policy. That the U. S. would want to do such a thing would be considered by many as immoral, and at best, impossible. That it may be necessary for our survival would be rejected as highly improbable. Nonetheless, the history of the past 50 years has been one of surprises. Military forces in being have proven to be essential to the survival of the United States and the protection of its interests. For example, there were few predictions of the rise of Nazi Germany, of Pearl Harbor, Korea, the Berlin Blockade, the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. Still they happened. Even though constrained in publicly planning for the next war, the United States has an urgent requirement to plan military forces that will minimize the adverse effects of future surprises. Naval forces can provide the unique attributes of mobility, flexible employment, and real power to meet this requirement—on land, at sea, and in the air.
Regardless of how cogent our arguments are, we will never be able to convince everyone of the merit of our beliefs. The best we can hope for is to convince the majority of our countrymen that spending on defense is, in fact, national security insurance. In presenting our case, we must remember that one argument is insufficient to convince all the varied constituency to garner the support needed for our national security. And, just as insurance companies are not ashamed to ask for our business since they know that we may one day thank them for it, we need not be embarrassed to ask for our countrymen’s support.
S. P. Huntington, "After Containment: The Functions of the Military Establishment,” Annals of American Political and Social Science, March 1973, p. 8.
Captain Colvin served two tours in Korea with VC-35 from 1950 to 1953. He was then a flight instructor for two years before attending the University of Colorado, from which he graduated in 1957. He attended the General Line School before being assigned to the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). Assigned to VS-29 and OpNav, he then attended Harvard University under Navy sponsorship for postgraduate study in international relations. He served in VS-30 and commanded VS-21, attended the Army War College, and commanded CVSG 56 before again serving in Op-60, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Subsequently he held a fellowship at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs and is currently participating in the Navy’s professional development program.