Center for Strategic Decision Research


The Way Forward-International Cooperation In the New Security Environment

Mr. Alfred Volkman
Director for International Cooperation,
Office of the United States Under Secretary of Defense, AT&L

The title, "The Way Forward-International Cooperation in the New Security Environment," invites us to consider how nations might cooperate to meet the threats we are likely to encounter in the future. It also invites us to consider what lessons we can learn from the past. 


Since 2001, the United States has continued to learn that a dangerous world requires that we cooperate closely with our allies and friends around the world. The United States did not act unilaterally after September 11, but did depend on NATO aircraft to help protect our airspace; it also relied on the assistance of many nations, prominent among them Russia, in the battle against terrorism. The victory in Iraq was accomplished quickly because United Kingdom forces played a major role around Basra, permitting the rapid assault on Baghdad. Other coalition partners played less visible, but extremely important, roles. 

The United States will also depend on coalition partners to help win the peace. In Afghanistan, an international force is led by German-Dutch command. In Iraq, Poland is playing an important role. These are only two examples, but it is clear that the United States and its partners around the world recognize the necessity to cooperate both in waging war and winning peace.  


The victories in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated the importance of technology in modern warfare. One of the most memorable photographs of the war in Afghanistan is of U.S. Special Forces riding horses with wooden saddles and carrying GPS receivers in their hands. The wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated the importance of GPS and the need to protect it against jamming. They have also pointed out the importance of aerial refueling (417 million pounds of jet fuel were offloaded); air and sea lifts; air power and the use of precision-guided munitions (70% of munitions dropped in Iraq were guided, compared to 35% during the Kosovo conflict and 10% during the Gulf War); and aerial ground surveillance ("Even at the height of dust storms, the enemy had no place to hide," said one commander). 

In addition to technology, the fusion of information and the speed of its transmission were also key to our success in Iraq. The war emphasized the importance of the rapid transmission of information from sensor to shooter. I believe the official lessons of the war will reveal that we can make great improvements in our ability to conduct netcentric warfare, which Robert Lentz also addresses. 


Finally, our recent experience demonstrates the importance of political will. In the late 1990s, in my travels around the world, I was disturbed by the widely held view that the United States would not commit forces to combat because the American public would not tolerate pictures of body bags being loaded onto aircraft. I do not hear that opinion any longer. September 11 changed all that. However, difficult decisions still need to be made, and political will must be exercised. For example, the United States and our friends and allies must exercise the will necessary to win the peace in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our European allies must find the political will required to close the capability gap between Europe and the United States. The credibility of NATO as a military alliance demands it, and the response force agreed to in Prague will not be very capable without airlift and aerial refueling capabilities and precision-guided munitions.  

The need for cooperation among nations, the need to use the best technology available, and the need for political will are not new imperatives for maintaining security. Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo by English, Russian, and German forces who understood these imperatives. This panel will now illuminate how we can meet these needs as we move forward in the new security environment. 



















Top of page | Home | ©2003 Center for Strategic Decision Research