Redefining Land Power for the 21st Century

  • May 01, 1998
  • Dr William T Johnsen

Divisive debates over the future force structures of the U.S. Armed Forces have continued despite the Report of the Commission on Roles and Missions for the Armed Forces (May 1995) and the more recent reports of the Quadrennial Defense Review (May 1997) and the National Defense Panel (December 1997). Part of the reason for the bitter nature of these debates is due to parochial partisanship. Part is due to a lack of clear understanding of the individual components of military power or of their collective interrelationships. This latter conclusion may be particularly true for land power. Responsibility for this misunderstanding does not always fall at the feet of outside observers. No official definition or general articulation of land power currently exists. And, because land power is self-evident to most who wear Army or Marine Corps green, they see little need to explain land power to a broader audience. But, if national leaders are to have a fuller under- standing of land power, its central role in the growing interdependence of military power, or the policy options that land power's versatility brings to security policy planning and execution, then such explanations are imperative. To help fill this conceptual gap, the author offers a definition of land power to meet the demands of the 21st century. While defining land power is his primary purpose, he also places land power within the overarching context of total military power. Additionally, he highlights the growing interdependence among the components of national power.