Ethnic Conflict: Implications for the Army of the Future

  • March 01, 1994
  • Dr Gary L Guertner, Maj Gen William A Stofft

Ethnic conflict is an ascendant phenomenon replacing ideology as a social force most likely to promote violence and regional instability. The ferocity of ethnic violence and its potential for escalation increase the political pressures for U.S. leadership and collective engagement. The U.S. Army has a direct interest in ethnic-based conflicts because land power is the dominant means for intervention through coalition peacekeeping and peace-enforcement operations. For these reasons, the Army War College was tasked to identify potential Army requirements for responding to ethnic-based, regional conflicts. This study pinpoints specific patterns of ethnic conflict, and cautions that each may confront military planners with unique circumstances and requirements. Political and military strategies must be tailored to fit a broad spectrum of ethnic conflict. Specific Army requirements are discussed, the most important being a thorough understanding of the complex political environments of ethnic conflict before committing our forces.