Time's Cycle and National Military Strategy: The Case for Continuity in a Time of Change

  • June 01, 1995
  • Dr David Jablonsky

Every April the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute hosts its Annual Strategy Conference. This year's theme, "Strategy During the Lean Years: Learning from the Past and the Present," brought together scholars, serving and retired officers, and civilian defense officials from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to discuss strategy formulation during times of penury from Tacitus to Force XXI.

Dr. David Jablonsky, Professor of National Security Affairs at the Army War College, posits that the current challenge is to understand the role of both change and continuity in the dual aftermath of the end of the Cold War and a great military victory in the Persian Gulf War. The seeming end to the threat posed by the East-West confrontation of the past fifty years notwithstanding, the international community still looks to the United States, the world s only superpower, for leadership. But, argues Dr. Jablonsky, the U.S. military is caught between having to trim its size and force structure on the one hand, while preparing for a plethora of nontraditional missions on the other. Dr. Jablonsky makes the case that despite the vastly changed world order, basic principles of international relations still apply, and the United States would be ill-served by abandoning those principles. The current U.S. national security strategy and its derivative national military strategy are, indeed, products of change and continuity resulting from the dynamics established in inter-state relations over the past fifty years as well as by the end of the Cold War. For whatever else may have changed, national security remains the primary duty of the nation-state and the responsibility for achieving that mission still belongs to the military.