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Document created: 1 September 04
Air & Space Power Journal - Fall 2004


Editorial Abstract: Identifying terrorism as a distinct threat for the foreseeable future, the national security strategy of 2002 emphasizes preemption and prevention as a standard approach for dealing with that threat. This strategy produces a narrowly defined, controversial use-of-force doctrine that has many implications for the national military strategy.

The US National Security Strategy of 2002

A New Use-of-Force Doctrine?

Lt Col Arnel B. Enriquez, USAF

 Even a cursory review of the national security strategy (NSS) of 2002 reveals a document vastly different from any of its predecessors. Although one may consider such a difference appropriate for the post–Cold War period, as the basis for subordinate strategies such as the national military strategy (NMS), it deserves close scrutiny. Such an examination will show that the NSS defines a strategic environment completely different from the one that existed just a few years ago—perhaps even unique. Therefore, the potential for equally significant changes in US military strategy demands a critical study of the effect of the NSS on a subsequent NMS.

Toward that end, this article addresses the implications of the NSS on the use of military force in pursuit of national objectives. This new doctrine appears far less cautious and more proactive than the so-called Weinberger-Powell Doctrine, which has dominated US strategic-security thinking to this point, by permitting the use of force in a preventive or preemptive manner against entities based simply on their hostile capabilities and generally hostile intent. Before discussing use-of-force doctrine and attempting to understand how use-of-force concepts in the NSS differ greatly from the previous use-of-force doctrines, one would do well to review the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine.

Review of Weinberger-Powell

Regardless of what one thinks of the -Weinberger-Powell Doctrine, any discussion of the use of force must include it—partly because, so far, (1) Weinberger-Powell remains the most prominent attempt to capture, in a single articulation, a coherent basis for use-of-force decision making; (2) it continues to influence US strategic thought; and (3) the fact that Colin Powell serves as the current secretary of state ensures that the rationale underlying this doctrine will play directly in current and near-term US foreign policy. However, the evolution of the doctrine’s name from “Weinberger” to “Weinberger-Powell” is extremely unfortunate because, although similar in form and foundation, the authoritative discourses by each of these gentlemen on this issue (a speech delivered by Weinberger in 1984 and a journal article written by Powell in 1992) differ in critical ways.1 In other words, as one finds out later, they are not the same doctrine. Nonetheless, the terms Weinberger Doctrine and Weinberger-Powell Doctrine usually refer to Weinberger’s original “six major tests,” as is the case in this article. However, the term Powell Doctrine alludes to the principles laid out by Colin Powell in his article. In any case, a critical review of both statements provides a necessary foundation for further discussion.

Definition of Doctrine

First, though, any attempt to analyze, develop, and evaluate doctrine requires an understanding of what it is. Because the originator of the Weinberger Doctrine was a senior government executive, one may be tempted to equate it with presidential doctrines such as the Monroe or Truman Doctrines. However, presidential doctrines tend to treat foreign policy at the grand strategic level in that they identify national principles or objectives without specifying particular economic, political, or military strategies. In contrast, use-of-force doctrines by their nature focus on the military instrument of power. For example, even though President Truman’s message to Congress in 1947, which defined his doctrine, asked for a specific amount of economic aid for Greece, the doctrine itself addressed the principle that “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures”; economic aid was merely a strategic action that supported this principle in the specific instance of Greece.2 Furthermore, presidential doctrines are neither systematically formulated nor documented: one must extract the doctrines of Monroe and Truman from portions of their speeches; the full meanings of their doctrines have developed over time through the interpretations of others.

Although below presidential doctrine, strategic doctrine appears to reside above joint military doctrine, which consists of “fundamental principles by which the military forces or elements thereof guide their actions in support of national objectives. It is authoritative but requires judgment in application.”3 That is, joint military doctrine guides the consideration of how force should be applied—not the broader question of whether it should be applied. Use-of-force doctrines, then, appear to lie somewhere between presidential and joint doctrine: they are specific to the military instrument of power but should serve as guides that, coupled with the strategist’s judgment, assist in determining if and how one should apply force as part of a military strategy.

The Weinberger Doctrine

Weinberger presented his six major tests for the use of force in a speech to the National Press Club in 1984 (table 1). Although he mentions virtually every US conflict that had occurred since World War I, he emphasizes that a use-of-force test does not lend itself to situations in which the decisive use of military power is clearly appropriate (e.g., defending a violation of one’s national sovereignty) or inappropriate (e.g., an unprovoked violation of someone else’s sovereignty). Rather, its utility lies in more ambiguous situations—the “gray-area conflicts” that have arisen so frequently since World War II—for which crafting a correct response has proved difficult. Although Weinberger uses historical examples from the interwar years—the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, and Grenada—to support his tests and their underlying arguments, clearly, the specter of Vietnam heavily influences his thinking. Indeed, his summary is rife with the lessons of Vietnam: “The Presi-dent will not allow our military forces to creep—or be drawn gradually—into a combat role. . . . This means we will need sustained congressional support. . . . These tests can help us to avoid being drawn inexorably into an endless morass. . . . But policies and principles such as these require decisive leadership in both the executive and legislative branches of government—and they also require strong and sustained public support.”4

Table 1. Comparison of Weinberger and Powell doctrines


Weinberger Doctrine

Powell Doctrine

If force should be used

1. Vital national interests must be at stake.
5. There must be assurance of support from the American public and Congress.
6. Force must be a last resort.

1. Political objective must be important, clearly defined, and understood.
2. Objective must be supported by the American people (by implication).
3. Use of force must be able to be combined effectively with diplomatic and economic policies.
4. Risks must be acceptable. Force should be restricted to instances in which resulting good will outweigh loss of lives and other costs.
5. Actual (as opposed to threatened) use of force should come at the end of the plan.

How force should be used

2. Commit resources necessary
to win.
3. Have clearly defined political and military objectives.
4. Continually reassess the -relationship between objectives and size of forces.

6. Clear, unambiguous, and achievable objectives must be given to forces; must be firmly linked with the political objectives.
7. Decisive means and results should be preferred [Powell uses gradual escalation as a counterexample of “decisive”] unless US objectives call for something short of “winning” [Powell uses Libya, 1986, as an example of “objectives short of winning”].

Adapted from Caspar Weinberger, Fighting for Peace: Seven Critical Years in the Pentagon (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1990), 433–45; and Colin L. Powell, “U.S. Forces: Challenges Ahead,” Foreign Affairs 71 (Winter 1992/93): 32–45.

Although Weinberger calls his principles “tests,” he does imply that one should use them as guides, as with joint military doctrine. For example, he indicates that the gray-area conflicts which demand critical thinking about the use of force will continue to challenge America for the foreseeable future and, by their nature, defy rote solutions. Furthermore, he describes them as “major tests to be applied when weighing the use of U.S. combat forces abroad. . . . I believe that these tests can be helpful in deciding whether or not we should commit our troops to combat” (emphasis added).5 Nonetheless, the first and sixth tests certainly appear to be directives with little room for judgment.

Finally, Weinberger’s is fundamentally a realist doctrine, an observation important to the analysis of use-of-force doctrines. The speech focuses exclusively on the instruments of national power, national interests, and threats to those interests; it says nothing of foreign interventions in the pursuit of values abroad. Furthermore, vital interests become the key criterion in answering the question of whether one should use force, and none of the six major tests uses values as a criterion: “We should only engage our troops if we must do so as a matter of our own vital national interest” (emphasis in original).6

The Powell Doctrine

Not specifically a use-of-force treatise, Powell’s article “U.S. Forces: Challenges Ahead” forecasts the types of missions our nation would require of its armed forces and the capabilities necessary to accomplish those missions.7 In it, he raises the issue of the use of force only as part of his larger discussion on the kinds of future missions our forces would have to execute. Acknowledging the inevitability of military operations other than war, he nonetheless characterizes as debatable the idea that the United States would commit its military to all types of missions involving the use of violent force. Consequently, his use-of-force concepts arise as a result of his exploration of the possibility of “violent force missions,” so one finds references to them scattered throughout that section of the article. Thus, his use-of-force principles do not occur in a neat list, as do Weinberger’s six major tests; rather, the reader must extract them from the text (table 1).

Unlike Weinberger, Powell does not devote significant effort to supporting his principles with historical examples; as a result, linkage between them and the specific experiences he cites is not clear. However, in his autobiography, Powell clearly demonstrates the effect of his experience in Vietnam on these principles: “War should be a politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support; we should mobilize the country’s resources to fulfill that mission and then go in to win. . . . I had been appalled at the docility of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, fighting the war in Vietnam without ever pressing the political leaders to lay out clear objectives for them.”8

Powell intends to provide guidance—not an inflexible catechism. However, what appears, superficially, as an inconsistency in his discussion may obscure that intent for some readers: “To help with the complex issue of the use of ‘violent’ force, some have turned to a set of principles or a when-to-go-to-war doctrine. ‘Follow these directions and you can’t go wrong.’ There is, however, no fixed set of rules for the use of military force. To set one up is dangerous.”9 Immediately following this criticism of principles and doctrine, however, he proceeds to provide a set of principles on if and how one should use force. But when Powell uses the terms principles and doctrine, he must mean, in this context, a checklist of “go/no go” criteria rather than guidance for making judgments. This sort of confusion underscores the importance of clearly defining doctrine and its purposes before undertaking any sort of critical analysis and development of doctrine.

Although Weinberger’s statement is unambiguously realistic, Powell’s is an eclectic collection of mixed, neutral, realistic, and idealistic language. The introduction and opening section of his article employ a thorough mix of both idealistic and realistic concepts. In discussing what tools America will use to lead the world, Powell lists the three traditional instruments (economics, politics, and armed forces) but adds a fourth: “The power of our beliefs and our values is fundamental to any success we might achieve.”10 The section of the article designated “Future Missions and Clear Objectives” makes no mention of either values or interests in the context of the use of force, and in “Future Military Structure,” which outlines the force structure required to meet America’s obligations, Powell takes a thoroughly realistic posture, mentioning threats, vital interests, and security arrangements as issues affecting force structure, never mentioning values. But his closing section is predominantly idealistic: “What our leadership in the world does mean is that [peace, prosperity, justice for all, and the elimination of war] have a chance.”11

Development of
Use-of-Force Principles

Although both the Weinberger and Powell Doctrines have more than one test or principle for deciding whether or not to use force (see table 1), each has a “primary” principle that defines the critical issue for going to war. The remaining “if” principles are “permissive” ones that do not define the reason for using force but specify conditions that must exist to permit the use of force to proceed. The others—the “how” tests and principles—are “practical” guides for determining the appropriate ways of applying force. Unsurprisingly, Weinberger’s principle no. 1 (“vital national interests”) as well as Powell’s principle no. 1 (“political objective must be important”) both serve as each man’s primary tenet. After all, Weinberger delivered a thoroughly realistic speech, and Powell clearly articulated both values and interests as motivations for US actions. Powell’s doctrine includes two permissive “if” principles equivalent to Weinberger’s no. 5 (“American support”) and no. 6 (“last resort”). However, Powell adds two permissive principles: no. 3 (“force combined with diplomacy and economics”) and no. 4 (“acceptable risks”).

In general, the primary use-of-force principle defines the key issue over which one would use force. Permissive principles, by themselves, do not drive the use of force but must hold true for the use of force to proceed, typically because these conditions ensure successful attainment of national objectives. “Overwhelming support from the public” could serve as an example of a permissive principle. Practical principles guide how force should be used once the decision to do so has been made. Finally, “preferential” principles do not necessarily have to be true before one can use force, but if they are true, they strengthen the case for such use (table 2).

Table 2. Types of use-of-force principles

The main principle(s) based on the critical issue(s), which, if true, dictates the decision to use force.
Principles that do not, by themselves, dictate the need to use force but express conditions that, in addition to the primary principle, must also be true to permit the use of force to -proceed.
Principles that do not necessarily have to be true for the use of force to proceed but, if true, positively influence the decision to use force. Preferential principles may be helpful when a use-of-force doctrine’s primary principle or the situation to which one applies it is ambiguous.
Principles that guide not the decision to use force as much as the way force should be applied, if at all.

The National Security Strategy

Because use-of-force doctrines like those of Weinberger and Powell should rely on the prevailing strategic environment, the first step in searching for a new doctrine calls for understanding that environment, upon which the NSS is based. The next steps include analyzing the NSS for its primary, permissive, preferential, and practical principles for the use of force. According to the NSS, the end of the Cold War created the current strategic environment, in which the greatest threat to the United States no longer comes from conquering states but from failed ones and an “embittered few” that possess “catastrophic technologies.”12 The United States enjoys safety from conventional, peer competitors because it “possesses unprecedented—and unequaled—strength and influence in the world.”13 New US adversaries differ from their Cold War counterparts in several important ways. They are not conventional nation-states but terrorists and rogue states. They will use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and other nonconventional means to attack—not to conquer but to instill fear. They will strike without warning; their soldiers will not be visible; and their primary targets will include civilians. This threat, a consistent theme throughout the NSS, clearly serves as the basis for that document’s use-of-force strategies. Although chapter four, “Work with Others to Defuse Regional Conflicts,” seems to address other conflicts that have concerned the United States in the past, the NSS without question emphasizes the terrorist threat.

The Search for
Use-of-Force Criteria

To understand the implied use-of-force doctrine in the new NSS, one must comprehend not only the new strategic environment and threats, but also the concepts of preemption and prevention because they play heavily in the strategy. Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, defines preemptive attack as one “initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent.”14 One infers imminence from indicators such as mobilization of an enemy army on one’s border. A preventive war, on the other hand, is “initiated in the belief that military conflict, while not imminent, is inevitable, and that to delay would involve greater risk.”15 Both preventive and preemptive attacks are proactive rather than reactive. Thus, preemption, prevention, and reaction represent three levels of threat response. At the greatest level of perceived threat, a nation believes an enemy attack is imminent and takes all necessary actions to preempt it. At the next lower level, a nation perceives the inevitability but not the imminence of an attack; in that case, the nation must weigh the risks of preventively attacking against those of doing nothing. Even if it decides to do nothing because it deems the greater risks lie in attacking preventively, the nation has still taken a proactive stance by choosing a course of inaction through rational consideration of the threat. Lastly, a nation may choose not to evaluate the nature of the threats it faces or endures a high-threat state—possibly even an attack—before taking any action.

The NSS prescribes the proactive approach, rejecting reaction as too risky in the current strategic environment because the dispersed, determined, and stealthy nature of terrorism makes attacks likely but difficult to detect and deter reliably. To the NSS, even a small percentage of successful attacks is unacceptable: “Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today’s threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries’ choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.”16

Furthermore, the distinction between preemption and prevention is blurred in the NSS (which uses the terms almost interchangeably) because the concepts of inevitability and imminence no longer appear as criteria for proactive intervention. Two new criteria now apply: (1) status as a rogue state or terrorist organization and (2) possession of harmful capability. The NSS maintains that the United States should take action against rogue states or terrorists that merely possess the capability to harm us. Intent is either no longer an issue or is presumed within the definition of rogue states and terrorists: “The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack” (emphasis added).17 The lack of distinction between preemption and prevention is consistent with how the NSS defines the prevailing threats. As already mentioned, allowing destructive capabilities to remain in the hands of radicals makes waiting to determine hostile intent too risky. Also, determining the extent of capabilities and imminence of attack and weighing the risks of action versus inaction are sufficiently difficult that the risk of waiting for perfect information becomes unacceptable. Hence, the NSS takes the approach that presuming hostile intent based on possession of capability offers the most reasonable course—and is justified morally and legally, even if it means violating the sovereignty of states by “compelling [them] to accept their sovereign responsibilities.”18

Hence, the existence of rogue states and terrorists radically motivated against the United States and its allies and in possession of harmful capability now stands as the NSS’s critical issue for determining the use of force. Clearly, however, specific cases have varying priorities. For example, compared to an inevitable but not immediate threat, an imminent terrorist attack takes priority for intervention and the use of force. However, the issue becomes one of prioritization and allocation of military resources—not a judgment that the former case does not qualify for the use of force. The destructive power of each threat serves as another factor in the prioritization scheme, with WMD threats generally assigned a higher priority than others.

The NSS also delineates preferential principles for the use of force—preferential because they describe conditions desirable but not necessary in justifying action. Indeed, the first preferential principle for using force against rogue states and terrorists in a particu-lar region calls for US partners in that area to take up a campaign that would localize threats, after which the United States would assist.19 However, the NSS promotes the multilateral approach as its most prominent preferential principle. Not limited to the use of force, it recurs throughout the document and across all instruments of power. Yet, it remains a preferential principle because the United States reserves the right to act unilaterally in self-defense.20 The NSS also appears to advocate two practical principles for using force: (1) the action must target and eliminate a specific threat and (2) the use of force should be measured (table 3).21

Table 3. NSS use-of-force principles


Force should be used proactively against rogue states and terrorists that possess the capability and motivation to harm the United States and its allies.


US partners in the region of interest should be the first to take up the fight, and the United States will assist.
If the United States must use force, multilateral action is preferred, but the United States reserves the right to act unilaterally, if necessary, in self-defense.


The action must target a specific threat and eliminate it.
The use of force should be measured.

Although the NSS acknowledges, especially in chapter 4, that regional conflicts (of the “gray area” type around which Weinberger fashioned his tests) still exist and require US attention, that chapter contributes nothing to the furthering of use-of-force doctrine for such conflicts. In fact, both of its two strategic principles for dealing with regional conflicts have to do with international institutions and nation building.

Evaluation of the Criteria

One is struck by the narrowness of the NSS’s critical issue and primary principles; it provides guidance on the use of force against rogue states and terrorists but not for any other scenario. For instance, the document offers no advice regarding the use of force in purely humanitarian situations such as Kosovo, in which the belligerents did not directly threaten the United States or support those who did. Such specificity makes the application of the doctrine easier than does Weinberger’s “vital interests” or Powell’s “political objectives,” but it also limits the document’s usefulness because it reduces the critical issue to something of a “no-brainer.” In other words, the utility of use-of-force doctrines lies in resolving the use of force in gray-area conflicts, not in situations that obviously require the use of force.

The NSS does not specify using force as a last resort or as necessarily coupled to other instruments of power. The strategy’s over-arching approach to threats is indeed proactive and parallel, advocating all traditional instruments of power and the support of allies and regional partners, but it does not preclude force as the first and/or only instrument. On the other hand, it describes the predominance of the instruments of power switching between two polar situations, one of which entails the nation building of failing states as a means of preventing the development of terrorism as early in its growth cycle as possible. If the country has not yet become a rogue state or has not sponsored terrorists, economic and political instruments are more appropriate than the military instrument. At the other extreme, an imminent terrorist attack calls for force more loudly than for economic or political solutions.

The NSS does not specifically call out Ameri-can public support as a use-of-force principle. This stance is understandable considering that the doctrine advocates the use of force against entities that are, by definition, a threat to the United States. In contrast, as mentioned above, it does not deal with the use of force in situations such as Kosovo in which US interests are debatable. Furthermore, the NSS appears to go to great lengths to “prejustify” its preemptive/ preventive approach as generally legal, moral, and logical, so that public acceptance of this justification equates to implicit public support of subsequent operations. Neither is the NSS doctrine explicit about using risk analysis to assist in the decision to use force. Again, that may not be necessary because the doctrine narrowly focuses on situations in which the risk factors for analysis, such as the determination and uncertain location of the enemy, are somewhat fixed. Finally, the NSS’s practical principle of targeting a specific threat and eliminating it sounds akin to Powell’s principle of having “clear, unambiguous, and achievable objectives” (see table 1).

One finds another significant difference between the NSS principles and the Weinberger and Powell Doctrines in their under-lying beliefs about the role of American support. The latter doctrines presume that American public support is necessary but intolerant of casualties, failure, and ambiguity of purpose. Their principles, therefore, support quick and overwhelming courses of action in order to avoid Vietnam-like quagmires. The NSS assumes that the war on terrorism is necessary and, by its nature, necessarily protracted, so rather than mold the doctrine to address American tolerances, as do Weinberger and Powell, it crafts the strategies necessary to win the war and then tries to sell that strategy to the public.

Implications for
US Military Strategy

If the military must strictly confine its strategy to the boundaries of the NSS, then US leaders, both military and civilian, should keep a doctrine like Weinberger’s or Powell’s in their hip pockets because the NSS provides use-of-force guidance for only a very narrow class of threats. Even if the national strategy proves correct in its prediction that these threats will become the most critical ones to US security for the next 20 years, it certainly admits at the same time that regional conflicts exist and require attention. Yet, its threat-based use-of-force doctrine seems far less relevant in those cases.

Furthermore, the NSS’s doctrine on military strategy changes what civilian and military leaders used to agonize over. The NSS makes nonissues of such formerly sticky matters as whether or not the United States should use force at all and, if so, to what extent—at least for the terrorist cases. Leaders must now struggle with (1) how to find, fix, track, prioritize, and target threats against which the United States must use force and (2) how to apply force. The existence of rogue states as terrorist sponsors provided some level of localization of terrorists, which, in turn, made the task of identifying and targeting them somewhat easier. However, the US position, both in practice and as documented in the NSS, of armed intervention in rogue states is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it forces the dispersion of terrorists, who then lose the benefits of state sponsorship. On the other, that same dispersion makes finding, fixing, tracking, and targeting them much more difficult, and, given the extent of today’s global communications, it may only marginally affect their functional cohesion. The dilemma for the military is that it cannot ignore terrorists based in rogue states because of the great advantages state sponsorship provides them, but the resulting dispersion makes subsequent operations more difficult. When it first targeted terrorists in rogue states, the United States may ostensibly have had the advantage of surprise, which helped eliminate most of the terrorists before they could disperse. However, with armed intervention now the standard practice, terrorists will be less likely to congregate so vulnerably. Applying force to such a dispersed enemy presents another challenge, made even greater by the covert integration of that enemy into civil societies, including that of the United States. Initially, we may not have believed that the transborder nature of terrorist organizations applied to US boundaries, but it does, and that may mean sharing the responsibility for the use of force with domestic agencies.

The final implication for the NMS involves overseas sustainment. Forward basing during the Cold War was integral to the strategies of that era. Subsequent practice called for a more expeditionary approach consistent with a smaller force structure and a disdain of lengthy deployments for fear of losing public support and getting into another quagmire. The United States preferred operations that would quickly and overwhelmingly accomplish its objectives, followed by an immediate withdrawal. For reasons explained earlier, that paradigm is entirely consistent with both the Weinberger and Powell Doctrines. However, the new paradigm anticipates a lengthy struggle with victory coming in increments.

So far, it appears that implementation of the NSS will indeed require protracted military operations, even military occupation, in some countries if the objective is truly to “eliminate” the threat. Certainly, the United States cannot withdraw its forces from Afghanistan at this time and expect the rule of law to prevail there. Likewise, the elimination of Saddam Hussein not only required an invasion, but also may necessitate a lengthy occupation of Iraq. Hence, even after the military overcomes the difficulties of finding and prioritizing targets and developing appropriate force-application strategies and tactics, the NSS seems to back the NMS into a corner. That is, the military must somehow take a force structure already strained from a high-operations tempo and sustain the lengthy deployment of forces to even more locations.

The Air Force’s recent establishment of two transitional air and space expeditionary forces (AEF) provides a case in point. The normal three-month rotational deployment cycle of the 10 Air Force AEFs, designed “to bring deployment predictability to airmen and their families,” was upset by “the operational demands of [Operation Iraqi Freedom] and other requirements.”22 The transitional AEFs supplemented the 10 standard AEFs, with the intention of meeting these increased operational demands. This is by no means a criticism of the AEF concept—rather, it is a tribute to its flexibility. The fact that the AEF cycle had to flex at all simply reflects the influence of the NSS’s use-of-force doctrine: an aggressive, more resource-intensive military strategy for the global war on terrorism.


The use-of-force doctrine implied by the NSS differs markedly from the Weinberger or Powell Doctrines, but because the latter are products of an earlier strategic environment and the lessons derived from the military engagements of that era, such a difference seems natural. However, the NSS’s heavy emphasis on the terrorist threat limits its threat-based use-of-force concepts to that class of conflicts even though the document also identifies regional conflicts as issues of strategic concern for the United States. Such conflicts gave rise to the Weinberger and Powell Doctrines, yet the NSS provides no guidance on the use of military force in those situations. Therefore, perhaps the most important lesson derived from this article is that US dominance has created a strategic environment that, although generally more stable, is vastly more diverse in its security threats. For that reason, it defies the development of a single use-of-force doctrine that is universal in its relevance and, at the same time, equally useful and specific in every situation. Thus, the post–Cold War environment makes the development of a universal or “silver bullet” use-of-force doctrine more challenging than at any other time in history. Therefore, this analysis has proved the wisdom of the joint definition of doctrine, for any use-of-force doctrine developed today can be no more than “fundamental principles by which the military . . . guide their actions,” but the success of these principles ultimately “requires judgment in application.”23


1. Caspar W. Weinberger, Fighting for Peace: Seven Criti-cal Years in the Pentagon (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1990), 433–45; and Colin L. Powell, “U.S. Forces: Challenges Ahead,” Foreign Affairs 71 (Winter 1992/93): 32–45.

2. “Harry Truman and the Truman Doctrine,” Truman Presidential Library and Museum, 2001, http://www. -trumanlibrary.org/teacher/doctrine.htm.

3. Joint Publication (JP) 1-01, Joint Doctrine Development System, 5 July 2000, GL-4.

4. Weinberger, Fighting for Peace, 444.

5. Ibid., 441–42.

6. Ibid., 440.

7. Powell, “U.S. Forces,” 32–45.

8. Colin L. Powell with Joseph E. Persico, My American Journey (New York, NY: Random House, 1995), 148, 464–65.

9. Powell, “U.S. Forces,” 37–38.

10. Ibid., 33.

11. Ibid., 44–45.

12. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: The White House, September 2002), 1.

13. Ibid.

14. Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 12 April 2001, 415, http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf.

15. Ibid., 419.

16. National Security Strategy, 15.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid., 6.

19. Ibid., 7.

20. Ibid., 6.

21. Ibid., 16.

22. “Plan Will Get AEF Back on Track, Fix ‘Disparity,’ “ http://www.af.mil/stories/123004843.shtml (accessed 30 September 2003).

23. JP 1-01, Joint Doctrine Development System, GL-4.


Lt Col Arnel B. Enriquez (BS, Louisiana Tech University; MS, Air Force Institute of Technology; MSS, Air War College) is chief of the Command, Control, Communication, and Navigation Division, Directorate of Requirements, Headquarters Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, Colorado. He previously served as director of the Command Action Group, Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas, and as program manager, Advanced GPS User Equipment, Los Angeles AFB, California. Colonel Enriquez is a graduate of Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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