Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


• Keeping those critical assets mobile will still further diminish

the attractiveness of the sanctuary as a military


• Digging and hardening fortifications will decrease the effectiveness

of attack by aircraft or drones and raise the

number of casualties that the enemy must expect from

a ground assault.

• Alliances with friendly sponsoring states will be even

more important for positional defence. Only they can

provide the most effective weapons, especially advanced

shoulder-fired weapons including the following:

• Man-portable air defence systems, capable of bringing

down helicopters with enormous strategic consequences,

as against the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

• Such sophisticated antitank-guided weapons as the

Russian Kornet, which was able to knock out previously

invulnerable Israeli tanks in South Lebanon.

• Self-forging IEDs, capable of destroying the most

heavily armoured vehicles, which hugely complicate

Western operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing

a persistent drain of casualties, inexorably undermining

public support.

• Volumetric munitions, as a new and disturbing class

of potential nonstate weapon.

• In the aggregate, all these measures should, as in South

Lebanon, significantly lengthen the expected duration of

any conventional offensive, with morale and publicity

benefits, and further raise the casualties that the enemy

must anticipate. And in these situations, most media

commentators will now automatically quote some version

of Henry Kissinger’s much-mutated Vietnam aphorism

that conventional armies lose if they do not win, but guerrillas

and NSAs win if they do not lose and need only to

survive. This will be a potentially self-fulfilling expectation.

It can in itself constitute a major disincentive for

government forces to engage in high-intensity assaults.


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