Swiftly Defeat The Efforts: Then What? The "New American Way Of War" And Transitioning Decisive Combat To Post Conflict Stabilization

  • July 15, 2004
  • LTC John D Nelson

Since the end of the first Gulf War the United States has fought in three decisive operations: Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. The principles of Rapid Decisive Operations influenced the pattern and conduct of operations in all three conflicts. This has been termed the "New American Way of War." These last three combat operations seem to ratify the ideas postulated in the concept of Rapid Decisive Operations, and appear to justify the force sizing choices made in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review. However, post conflict operations were never included as part of the force sizing calculus. Paradoxically it now takes more ground force to secure the peace in post conflict than to bring an end to decisive operations. This paper examines the paradox created by the "New American Way of War" and the increased need for ground forces to secure the peace compared to conducting decisive operations, focusing on the period of time in a campaign when decisive operations transition from conflict termination to post conflict stability operations.