- The Washington Times - Monday, November 5, 2001

The Weinberger-Powell doctrine that influenced presidents on when and how to use American military power for nearly two decades has given way to the unchartered war on terrorism.
Named after former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, the doctrine's major tenet is to use decisive, or overwhelming, force to achieve a clear objective.
That convention is out the window in the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan and the broader war against global terrorism. Targeted action, not decisive force, is what is needed to uproot shadowy terror networks, U.S. officials say.
President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld are trying to achieve with limited arms (air assaults, special operations and CIA covert action) what overwhelming force is designed to attain namely, the destruction of an enemy, Osama bin Laden, and ousting of a belligerent government, Afghanistan's Taliban.
But the exact "Bush-Rumsfeld" doctrine that would stand alongside the Weinberger-Powell principles is still to be written, military analysts say. It takes a significant military event, such as the Vietnam War or the nascent war on terrorism, to spur strategists to starting thinking about what it all means.
"All you've got right now are a series of disconnected policy musings that are the most immediate response to the challenge we are currently facing," says retired Army Col. Kenneth Allard, a TV military analyst who has written books on military strategy.
Analysts predict this century's first war against so-called asymmetrical threats in this case terrorism will produce a military doctrine like no other.
"We need a new vocabulary," Mr. Rumsfeld said shortly after the air war began Oct. 7. "We need to get rid of 'old think' and start thinking about this thing the way it really is."
"New think" is actually what Mr. Weinberger aimed to do in 1984. Then, in the early days of the Reagan military buildup, the defense secretary wanted to set down principles for deploying forces that would prevent another Vietnam. Mr. Powell, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, later amended the Weinberger doctrine to also call for using "decisive force."
In a Nov. 28, 1984, speech to the National Press Club, Mr. Weinberger said U.S. armed force would be used only to protect "vital interests of the U.S. or its allies." He said the action must have "clearly defined political and military objectives" and come with "reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their representatives in Congress."
Analysts say Mr. Bush is meeting those criteria. Congress and the American people are overwhelmingly backing military action. Mr. Rumsfeld has stated the objective: ousting the ruling Taliban, and eliminating bin Laden and his al Qaeda terror network. The United States holds bin Laden responsible for the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
But Mr. Powell himself agrees his principle of decisive force does not fit in Afghanistan.
"I've always talked about decisive force, meaning you go to the point of decision and that's where you apply decisive force," Mr. Powell told NBC shortly before the air assault began Oct. 7. "In the Persian Gulf war 10 years ago, you had an army sitting out there easily identifiable … and we applied decisive force against the Iraqi army. It's different this time. … I can assure you that our military will have plans that will go against their weaknesses and not get trapped in ways that previous armies have gotten trapped in Afghanistan."
One major objective in Afghanistan is not only to destroy the enemy but to simultaneously befriend the Afghan people as the United States works to form a post-Taliban democracy.
Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, says that if Mr. Bush's current strategy is successful, then local politics may be part of a new doctrine.
"Things that were an anathema to Powell and Weinberger and were partly a reaction to Vietnam are now correctly recommended as necessary to this kind of war," Mr. O'Hanlon said. "In cases where you really have to worry about the hearts and minds, and not just battlefield success, politics are an inherent part of the operations, especially when you are trying to convince people not to fight you and to change sides. So the concept of overwhelming force is not really applicable."
James Webb, a decorated Marine Corps officer in Vietnam and former secretary of the Navy, says the Powell doctrine never fit every conflict anyway.
"There are times when a nation must fight even though it is unable to amass overwhelming force. Think of the early battles of World War II," Mr. Webb said. "And there are times when overwhelming force is irrelevant, because its application does not meet the threat, which is where we are today. What is important here to use the phrase I used in my speech at the Naval Institute is 'specific lethality.' That means finding the 'point targets' in this kind of war and then obliterating them."
If the new war on terrorism gives birth to a Bush-Rumsfeld doctrine, clues to its content might be found in a series of policy pronouncements.
Mr. Bush's most significant new policy is his edict that governments that host and protect international terrorists will be treated as if they are the perpetrators themselves. In another stark marker, the president has said that foreign governments are either "with us or against us" in this war.
Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, repeatedly say, "it's a different kind of conflict" making it hard to pin down any new doctrine.
"If you try to quantify what we're doing today in terms of previous conventional wars, you're making a huge mistake," Gen. Myers told reporters. "That is 'old think' and that will not help you analyze what we're doing."


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