1st Edition

US Defence Strategy from Vietnam to Operation Iraqi Freedom Military Innovation and the New American War of War, 1973-2003

By Robert R. Tomes Copyright 2007
    224 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    224 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    US Defence Strategy from Vietnam to Operation Iraqi Freedom examines the thirty-year transformation in American military thought and defence strategy that spanned from 1973 through 2003.

    During these three decades, new technology and operational practices helped form what observers dubbed a 'Revolution in Military Affairs' in the 1990s and a 'New American Way of War' in the 2000s. Robert R. Tomes tells for the first time the story of how innovative approaches to solving battlefield challenges gave rise to non-nuclear strategic strike, the quest to apply information technology to offset Soviet military advantages, and the rise of 'decisive operations' in American military strategy. He details an innovation process that began in the shadow of Vietnam, matured in the 1980s as Pentagon planners sought an integrated nuclear-conventional deterrent, and culminated with battles fought during blinding sandstorms on the road to Baghdad in 2003. An important contribution to military innovation studies, the book also presents an innovation framework applicable to current defence transformation efforts.

    This book will be of much interest to students of strategic studies, US defence policy and US politics in general.

    Acknowledgments i

    Chapter 1. Military Innovation and Defense Transformation 1

    Study Overview

    Chapter 2. On Military Innovation 17

    Introducing Military Innovation Studies

    Coming to Terms with Military Innovation

    Contextualizing Innovation

    Military Innovation Studies: A Sketch of Resources

    On Innovation for Profit

    Learning From the Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe

    Chapter Conclusion

    Chapter 3. American Military Strategy from World War II to Vietnam 60

    On ‘Carrying a Twig’: Postwar Defense Planning

    Changes in the International Security Environment

    The Truman Doctrine and Shifts in Strategic Planning

    The New Look

    Further Evolution of Deterrence Strategy

    Flexible Response and the Emerging Framework for Innovation

    The Soviet Nuclear RMA: On the Strategic and Operational Threat

    American Military Strategy and the Legacy of Vietnam

    Chapter Conclusion

    Chapter 4. Military Innovation in the Shadow of Vietnam: The Offset Strategy 110

    The Post-Vietnam Security Environment

    Framing the Post-Vietnam Strategic Context

    Toward Technological Innovation: DARPA and the Offset Strategy

    An Emerging Revolution in Army Doctrine, Training, and Operational Art

    Air Power Developments: Precision Warfare, Tactical Aviation, and Space Power

    Leveraging the Information Revolution

    Shifts in National Security Planning

    Chapter Conclusion

    Chapter 5. Expanding Missions, New Operational Capabilities 186

    Chapter Overview

    The Reagan Buildup and Shifts in National Security Planning

    Time-Dominance, Interdiction, and Battlefield Integration

    Military Thought and Doctrine: AirLand Battle and Follow On Forces Attack

    New Security Challenges and Military Missions at the End of the Cold War

    Chapter Conclusion


    Chapter 6. From RMAs to Transformation:

    Rediscovering the Innovation Imperative 247

    Revisiting the American RMA

    From RMA Thesis to Transformation Policy

    Revisiting Information Superiority

    The Bush Doctrine and Preemption

    Chapter Conclusion

    Chapter 7. Conclusion: Revisiting the Military Innovation Framework 303

    Revisiting Necessity, Context, and the Security Environment

    Perceptions of Innovation Attributes


    Organizational Factors

    Revisiting the Innovation Milieu

    A Final Theme From the Thirty-Year Transformation

    Notes 350


    Robert R. Tomes

    ‘This book offers a very thoughtful and sophisticated analysis of the processes and prospects of defense transformation. Drawing on the experience of the Cold War and the aftermath of the Vietnam war, it  brings the reader right up to the current debates about "revolutions in military affairs" and the Bush Doctrine on preemption.’ Professor George Quester, University of Maryland

    ‘Essential reading in order to understand, from a military, technological and geopolitical perspective, the dramatic transformation on US defense posture from the end of World War II to the present "war on terrorism".’ Jacques S. Gansler, Vice President Research, University of Maryland, former Under Secretary of Defense (1997-2001)

    ‘If you really want to understand what has happened to the U.S armed forces since Vietnam, read this book.’ Professor Martin Van Creveld


    'Combining a scholarly background with real world experience, Robert Tomes is one of the bright young national security analysts who will shape the foreign and security policies of the Unites States in the coming decades. US Defence Strategy from Vietnam to Operation Iraqi Freedom will establish him as a leading expert on military transformation. This conceptually grounded book provides historical account of the thirty year journey toward the modern U.S. military that is fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and hotspots around the globe.'  Dr Peter Dombrowski, Chair, Strategic Research Department, US Naval War College