America’s Conflict Spectrum: How It Affects National Security
By Dr. Monique M. Maldonado
Contributor, In Homeland Security
The United States has an ever-changing predicament that indefinitely affects the direction of global security, peace and economic stability. It is imperative that our nation remain vigilant on the evolution of war and technological advancement, because there will always be international conflicts.
The U.S. military continuously alters its strategic platform to mitigate modern tactics and adversarial engagement against emerging enemies. This tactic has become more evident in the twenty-first century, particularly in regard to the Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Staying keenly cognizant of trends and cultures has predominantly been a trait of the United States’ military operatives. Such preparation has been detrimental to safeguarding military forces and maintaining perpetual combat readiness to fight current and emerging threats on the conflict spectrum.
The conflict spectrum is essentially the United States’ awareness on the effectiveness and capability track of international conflict. Understanding such concepts is vital for the comprehension of new and evolving wars.
Conflict Refines US Comprehension of War
According to Paul Scharre, a former infantryman of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Iraq and Afghanistan, “conflict has refined and expanded our understanding of war and our lexicon must change as well.” He also emphasized how modern terminology has affected military strategies because what was first considered a low-intensity conflict has metamorphosed into a conflict of greater magnitude.
Furthermore, global foes have a significant advantage that detrimentally affects U.S. national security. “Sophisticated nation-state adversaries have expanded the spectrum of military operations by investing in advanced technologies designed to blunt U.S. power projection and thwart U.S. advantages,” Scharre states.
The purpose of the conflict spectrum is to identify the classification and physiognomies of a specific threat and how the United States relates to it on a global scale. The U.S. military strategy is a key functioning force in determining the measurability of future conflict.
According to authors Sam C. Sarkesian, John A. Williams and Stephen J. Cimbala of U.S. National: Policymakers, Processes, & Policies, the conflict “assesses U.S. capabilities and effectiveness.” They also state that although the threat of war among states has decreased, the major concern is increased conflict between intrastates that is high on the conflict spectrum.
Unconventional Conflict Is Global Security Threat
In addition, unconventional warfare is contagious and poses a major threat to the United States, its allies and security partners. For example, since its inception in 2006, ISIL has proven to the world that it is not only just a terrorist organization, but also a global, insurgent movement with powerful forces.
ISIL took over major cities in Iraq and Syria (which have been reclaimed and taken back). It is currently on the verge of capturing Ar-Rutbah, a town in the Western Al Anbar province of Iraq, according to Chris Tomson of Al-Masdar News.
Moreover, to show their strength and sophistication, ISIL has influenced or been directly responsible for nearly 150 terrorist attacks in 30 countries around the world. According to CNN, ISIL has “killed at least 2,043 people and thousands more.” The strategy of ISIL is difficult to detect because experts cannot seem to “divine the precise role that international terrorists play in this or that attack.”
Furthermore, ISIL is currently the richest terrorist organization in the world with a net worth of $2 billion. ISIL’s wealth sets a precedence for sophistication, unconventional tactics and deadly, covert attacks on its enemies.
Understanding Conflict Spectrum Key to Protecting National Security
The United States’ current National Security Strategy outlines initiatives to mitigate global conflict and threats like ISIL. It also advises America on national values, interests, conflicts, top concerns and solutions on the international continuum.
Understanding the conflict spectrum and having the ability to maintain dominance is indicative of military capabilities and protecting national security. The key to maintaining U.S. global supremacy is for our leaders to realize that conventional conflicts have declined and today’s conflicts are all about asymmetrical and unconventional warfare.
In the book, A New Epoch — and Spectrum — of Conflict, authors John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt stated “no good old-fashioned war is in sight.” American terminology and new initiatives on national interests have progressed since the Cold War. Even Gulf War eras and grasping these ideologies today are the keys to achieving the ultimate goal of protecting national security.
Comprehending the type of wars the United States will face is a major step toward maintaining supremacy. Conflict can be mitigated by responding with modern measures, such as counterinsurgency. According to Michael R. Melillo of Outfitting a Big-War Military Small-War Capabilities, counterinsurgencies “…includes peacekeeping, stability and support operations, nation-building and humanitarian missions.” The scale of defeating and containing the enemy is predicated on the sophistication of enemies’ threats.