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Understanding and Accounting for National Will in Strategies that Use Military Force - Case Studies of Gulf War, Desert Storm, Operations in Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation Joint Endeavor

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This paper argues that national will is crucial to the successful use of military force; and therefore military strategists and policy makers must understand and continuously account for the impact of national will throughout strategy development and implementation. After highlighting recent challenges regarding the use of military force by the United States, the paper exa This paper argues that national will is crucial to the successful use of military force; and therefore military strategists and policy makers must understand and continuously account for the impact of national will throughout strategy development and implementation. After highlighting recent challenges regarding the use of military force by the United States, the paper examines a basic model for explaining strategy from the Army War College. While the model is useful in capturing the synergy that must exist between political and military objectives and strategic risk derived from compatibility issues of ends, ways, and means, it does not capture the risk to a strategy related to national will. A way to improve upon this basic conceptual model is to incorporate the element of national will as an integral and vital part of any strategy that involves the use of military force. National will is the foundation that both the political objective and military strategy must rest upon. As such, national will defines the limits of what is acceptable in terms of a strategy's ends, ways, and means, and also determines the amount of deviation from reality that is tolerable during a strategy's implementation. Similarly, national will is a critical component in determining the time available for the strategy to achieve desired results before change or abandonment is required. Finally, national will impacts the effort and efficiency of all of those involved in developing and carrying out the associated strategy. A strategy is more likely to be successful when national will is understood and accounted for by military strategists and policy makers because it lends itself to achieving a critical three-way balance between the people, military, and government. While lengthy ongoing military operations convey a pessimistic outlook on the United States' ability to successfully develop and implement strategy, there are several recent examples of success that highlight the importance of understanding and incorporating national will into strategy. Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as, Operations Joint Endeavor in Bosnia-Herzegovina provide excellent examples, from both a conventional and low-intensity perspective, of how political objectives, military strategy, and national will are properly synthesized and balanced throughout strategy development and implementation to ensure success. US military operations in Somalia provide a valuable lesson in how taking this critical balance between objective, military strategy, and national will for granted, even after it is obtained, can cause it to be lost and lead to strategic failure. National will is defined and discussed later in more detail, however, the basic definition comes from what international relations scholar, Hans Morgenthau, refers to as national morale, "the degree of determination with which a nation supports the foreign policies of its government in peace and war." Strategy is defined using Joint Publication (JP) 1, "a prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives".


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This paper argues that national will is crucial to the successful use of military force; and therefore military strategists and policy makers must understand and continuously account for the impact of national will throughout strategy development and implementation. After highlighting recent challenges regarding the use of military force by the United States, the paper exa This paper argues that national will is crucial to the successful use of military force; and therefore military strategists and policy makers must understand and continuously account for the impact of national will throughout strategy development and implementation. After highlighting recent challenges regarding the use of military force by the United States, the paper examines a basic model for explaining strategy from the Army War College. While the model is useful in capturing the synergy that must exist between political and military objectives and strategic risk derived from compatibility issues of ends, ways, and means, it does not capture the risk to a strategy related to national will. A way to improve upon this basic conceptual model is to incorporate the element of national will as an integral and vital part of any strategy that involves the use of military force. National will is the foundation that both the political objective and military strategy must rest upon. As such, national will defines the limits of what is acceptable in terms of a strategy's ends, ways, and means, and also determines the amount of deviation from reality that is tolerable during a strategy's implementation. Similarly, national will is a critical component in determining the time available for the strategy to achieve desired results before change or abandonment is required. Finally, national will impacts the effort and efficiency of all of those involved in developing and carrying out the associated strategy. A strategy is more likely to be successful when national will is understood and accounted for by military strategists and policy makers because it lends itself to achieving a critical three-way balance between the people, military, and government. While lengthy ongoing military operations convey a pessimistic outlook on the United States' ability to successfully develop and implement strategy, there are several recent examples of success that highlight the importance of understanding and incorporating national will into strategy. Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as, Operations Joint Endeavor in Bosnia-Herzegovina provide excellent examples, from both a conventional and low-intensity perspective, of how political objectives, military strategy, and national will are properly synthesized and balanced throughout strategy development and implementation to ensure success. US military operations in Somalia provide a valuable lesson in how taking this critical balance between objective, military strategy, and national will for granted, even after it is obtained, can cause it to be lost and lead to strategic failure. National will is defined and discussed later in more detail, however, the basic definition comes from what international relations scholar, Hans Morgenthau, refers to as national morale, "the degree of determination with which a nation supports the foreign policies of its government in peace and war." Strategy is defined using Joint Publication (JP) 1, "a prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives".

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