Twenty-five years ago, while a young student of military science, I was often found with my head in the books of the great post-Marlborough masters of strategy – Men like Antoine Jomini, Frederick the Great, and Carl von Clausewitz: The latter of whom, it has been said, “distilled Napoleon into theory.”
They were not the only military theorists I studied, but I do remember wondering if there would ever be another work like Jomini’s “The Art of War” or von Clausewitz’ “On War,” that would succinctly lay out principles of fighting and winning wars of the future.
After all, most of the books, treatises, field manuals, and documents on the subject – including the U.S. Army’s periodically updated “Principles of War” (and later the Marine Corps’ “Warfighting”) – published after the close of the 19th century were based in large measure on the works of numerous military strategists from Sun Tzu, more than 2,500 years ago, to J.F.C. Fuller in the 20th century.
But the 21st century and the new Global War on Terror with its frontless, asymmetrical, computerized, potentially nuclear battlefield has demanded new sets of principles or maxims; not only for battlefield commanders, but for civilians who themselves are now directly involved.
That is exactly what Frank J. Gaffney and his colleagues have accomplished in “War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World.”
Not a tactical guide for ground-combat commanders, “War Footing” is a highly readable strategic blueprint for all Americans, who – for the first time in history – must also know who the enemy is, what his goals are, why we as a nation must commit to destroying him before he destroys us, and how we do it.
Drawing on a veritable who’s who of national security experts like former CIA director R. James Woolsey, retired Generals Tom McInerney and Paul Vallely, retired Admiral Robert R. Monroe, national-security expert Alex Alexiev, military historian Victor Davis Hanson, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, internationally acclaimed journalists/editors Claudia Rosett and Caroline Glick, Middle Eastern scholar Dr. Michael Rubin, military/defense analyst Daniel Goure, terrorism expert Dr. J. Michael Waller, and many others – all of whom contribute specific chapters and sections to the book – Gaffney presents 10 steps for successfully waging and winning the war against terrorism.
Following a foreword by Woolsey and an introduction by Hanson, the book launches into Part I, “Understanding the Problem,” which includes steps one and two for understanding the enemy and really supporting the troops who – taking a snippet from the basic “mission of the Marine rifle squad” – must “locate, close with, and destroy the enemy.”
Here Gaffney, himself a national security expert and the founder of the Washington, D.C.–based Center for Security Policy, hones in on what I was taught as a Marine, and what I have been preaching to my family, friends, and readers since 9/11. “If we [every man and woman living in America today] don’t understand the enemy we are fighting and the actual nature of this conflict, we have little likelihood of surviving this war, let alone prevailing in it,” he writes. But Gaffney and his contributors don’t just make sweeping if-then statements. They boil down the complexities of our enemy in a fashion that can be quickly and easily digested by all of us who need to know.
Part II (steps three and four) tackles the economic particulars of the war on terror, including primers on both U.S. energy security and the money used to finance terror.
“America is fighting this war, as the saying goes, with one hand tied behind its back,” writes Gaffney, who goes on to explain that – unlike our use of our superior military forces and high-tech battlefield wizardry – we have failed to make use of our superior economic and financial power against our enemies. “We need to adopt a War Footing stance that includes measures that use our money to punish our enemies while rewarding the responsible – and profitable companies – that are on our side,” he says.
Part III (steps five, six, and seven) address the issues of homeland security, including the border security problem and the often-ignored – marginally understood – threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
An EMP is one of the effects – in addition to blast, heat, and radiation – of an air-bursting nuclear weapon. Likened to an “atmospheric tsunami,” an EMP is an extremely intense electromagnetic shockwave that could effectively knock out all communications, electrical grids, computers, automobiles, aircraft, trains, and boats – anything electronic – in the blast’s line-of-sight. For all intent and purposes, the entire United States’ financial, trade, food and water delivery, military, security, transportation, and medical systems would be wiped out in an instant.
An EMP attack achieved by launching a nuclear-tipped missile from an approaching freighter could potentially kill millions through starvation, disease, and society’s collapsing into utter lawlessness. According to the book, an EMP attack “could kill – indirectly – far more Americans than a nuclear weapon detonated in our most populous city.” An unsettling reality indeed.
Part IV (steps eight, nine, and 10) offers solutions to the problems of how to unite and organize the American people, and thwart the terrorists, not simply at home, but abroad. Here the book moves closer toward the Clausewitzian approaches to waging war; not in the sense of mass and maneuver for soldierly understanding, but in the sense of global strategic objectives for the near and distant future. And these objectives – from waging the war of ideas to worldwide regional objectives to wielding effective diplomacy – must be understood by every American and instilled in our future soldiers, policymakers, diplomats, academics, economists, and business leaders if we are to survive.
Gaffney concludes that America is not simply fighting a global war on terror. “To be sure, it is a global war,” he says. “But what we have established is that, given its complexities and stakes, this conflict should be called what it plainly is – the War for the Free World.”
This is an important book with strategic considerations, implications, and a war-plan we ignore at our own peril.