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Abstract

Over the last several years there have been a number of calls for the development of a new theoretical doctrine to govern the force structure of the United States military. The last big change in doctrine occurred in the post-Vietnam era. It involved not simply the change to the all-volunteer force, but an abandonment of escalation brinkmanship and open-ended missions. The subsequent Powell Doctrine demanded the use of overwhelming force and clear objectives and boundaries for military intervention. As the new millennium approached, the deficiencies of the Powell Doctrine became apparent — the multilateral approach of coalition building and the logistic assembly of forces and equipment was too cumbersome to respond to the new threats from non-state entities. This led to the development of the concept of Force Transformation as embraced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Yet the modernization plans envisioned by him are meeting significant resistance within the military because of September 11, Afghanistan, and Iraq — in short, such dramatic change is too risky given these immediate challenges and the entrenched interests of the military bureaucracy. This paper outlines a number of changes in the overarching social conditions and the various technological advances in weapons development. Next, the paper discusses the resistance to change in the military that was demonstrated in the first Gulf War and the problem of the overextension of the Guards and Reserves. Finally, the paper examines a few scenarios of reorganization and three possible paths that the military can pursue.

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