National Military Strategy 2004

NYT — A New Strategy Document Calls Attention To The Transition Between War And Peace [RSS]

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has approved a new national military strategy that makes clear to the nation’s war planners that they must pay greater attention to preparing for the complicated and dangerous transition between the end of major combat operations and the return of civil authority.

That is the very stage of events that is proving so daunting now in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The new strategy seems to be seeking ways to avoid similar problems in any future war.

“Winning decisively will require synchronizing and integrating major combat operations, stability operations and significant postconflict interagency operations to establish conditions of stability and security favorable to the United States,” the strategy document states.

While the American military was widely praised for its swift offensive into Iraq that captured Baghdad in just three weeks, the subsequent fight against a tenacious insurgency, combined with a political process that appears to be stumbling in advance of the June 30 transition to Iraqi sovereignty, makes clear that victory cannot yet be declared in the war in Iraq.

In its broadest terms, the “National Military Strategy 2004” sets priorities for America’s senior officers, including the job of winning against terrorism, increasing the ability of the four armed services to fight together and transforming the military with new technologies and fresh concepts even as it is stretched by multiple deployments.

In authorizing the new military strategy, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also defines three core missions for the regional war-fighting commanders and heads of the armed services: to protect the United States, to prevent conflict and surprise attacks and to prevail against adversaries.

A 23-page draft of the unclassified strategy document has circulated at the Pentagon since it was signed by General Myers and forwarded for approval to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in advance of delivery to Congress. The complete document also contains a classified risk assessment by General Myers.

This is about twelve years overdue.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Military Affairs, Terrorism, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Terry Tucker says:

    Regrettably, with 20/20 hindsight, the uncertainty of the meaning of the end of the cold war resulted in a paralysis of strategy. Mostly a “lets wait and see what happens attitidue.” Although many eyes and essays were looking to the small war debate, most (the Army) had ignored the myriad lessons from the Marine Corp on the future of warfare; and, all the rhetoric on “joint/combined operations” was impossible to implement (and hardly marginally better today) because of the political silo’s between the branches. It is amazing to me that the Center for Military History has captured the essence of many of these fine lessons in that great collection of books that are commonly referred to as the the “Green Books”, yet, those lessons were ignored as well. We were saved from this crisis by the events of 9/11, and to echo some common sentiment, We had neither the will nor political support for any of the two Quadrennial Defense Review’s implications in this so called “Interwar Period of 29 Feb 1991 and SEPT 10TH 2001.
    Never the less I beg to differ with the implication that the “Army” miscalulated the size and intensity of the insurgency post vitory in Iraq. To that dubious honor goes to Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz who ignored the warnings of then CSA, General Eric Shinsecki.