USA / Welt

Glob­al Con­di­tions, Trends Indi­cate Years of Con­flict, Army Chief Says

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2009 — As the Army con­tin­ues to bat­tle rad­i­cal extrem­ists in Iraq and Afghanistan, glob­al trends and con­di­tions por­tend the like­li­hood that “per­sis­tent con­flict” will occur around the world for some years to come, the Army’s top mil­i­tary offi­cer said here yes­ter­day.

The war against ter­ror­ism “is a long-term, ide­o­log­i­cal strug­gle,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. told an audi­ence at the Atlantic Coun­cil of the Unit­ed States. The coun­cil pro­motes con­struc­tive U.S. lead­er­ship and engage­ment in inter­na­tion­al affairs.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan con­tin­ue, Casey said, the neg­a­tive effects of glob­al­iza­tion pre­cip­i­tat­ed by the world eco­nom­ic cri­sis, com­bined with grow­ing urban­iza­tion and an increased com­pe­ti­tion for resources, are among ear­ly 21st-cen­tu­ry trends that indi­cate the poten­tial for addi­tion­al con­flicts in the near future.

“Against that back­drop, we look out at trends that we see around the globe,” Casey said. “And the trends that we see, I believe, are more like­ly to exac­er­bate the con­di­tions that we see now than they are to ame­lio­rate them.”

Casey then ticked off some of those trends:

— Up until the world eco­nom­ic cri­sis, Casey said, glob­al­iza­tion “was gen­er­at­ing pros­per­i­ty around the world, but it was gen­er­at­ing it uneven­ly and cre­at­ing ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ con­di­tions.” The have-not regions, he said, are most­ly con­cen­trat­ed in the south­ern hemi­sphere and con­tain peo­ple who “are much more sus­cep­ti­ble to recruit­ing” by ter­ror­ist and extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions.

— Tech­nol­o­gy, like glob­al­iza­tion, has become “anoth­er dou­ble-edged sword,” Casey said. Com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy that’s used to con­nect peo­ple and busi­ness­es across the world also is employed by ter­ror­ists to export their ide­ol­o­gy and expe­dite their plans.

— Pop­u­la­tions of some devel­op­ing coun­tries are expect­ed to dou­ble over the next decade, the gen­er­al said, putting more pres­sure on already har­ried gov­ern­ments to pro­vide ade­quate ser­vices for their peo­ple. Mean­while, he said, the world’s peo­ple “are increas­ing­ly mov­ing to cities,” a trend that makes for tough urban fight­ing dur­ing times of con­flict.

— Anoth­er demo­graph­ic-relat­ed world trend involves an “increased com­pe­ti­tion for resources” among devel­oped and new­ly devel­op­ing nations, Casey said.

How­ev­er, the two most wor­ri­some sce­nar­ios, Casey said, involve “weapons of mass destruc­tion in the hands of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and safe havens – coun­tries or parts of coun­tries where the local gov­ern­ments can’t or won’t deny their coun­tries as safe havens for ter­ror­ists to plan oper­a­tions.”

All of these trends and con­di­tions indi­cate “that we will oper­ate in an era of what I call per­sis­tent con­flict,” Casey said. He defined such con­flict as “pro­tract­ed con­fronta­tion among state, non­state and indi­vid­ual actors who are increas­ing­ly will­ing to use vio­lence to accom­plish their polit­i­cal objec­tives.”

Such con­flicts, Casey said, could per­sist up to “a decade or so ahead of us.”

The fight­ing that occurred in south­ern Lebanon in the sum­mer of 2006 that pit­ted Israeli troops against Hezbol­lah ter­ror­ists, Casey said, is an exam­ple of the type of war­fare that’s like­ly to be expe­ri­enced in the years ahead. In 2006, Hezbol­lah guer­ril­las “used impro­vised explo­sive devices to chan­nel­ize well-equipped attack­ing Israeli forces into ambush­es, where they fired at them with state-of-the-art anti-tank guid­ed mis­siles,” Casey said. The ter­ror­ists, he said, also shot down an Israeli heli­copter with a sur­face-to-air mis­sile.

Hezbollah’s use of hybrid war­fare — a mix of irreg­u­lar and con­ven­tion­al tac­tics and weapon­ry – rep­re­sents “a fun­da­men­tal­ly more com­plex and dif­fi­cult chal­lenge than the chal­lenges of fight­ing large tank armies on the plains of Europe,” Casey point­ed out.
Casey pre­dict­ed that future U.S. foes are like­ly to employ irreg­u­lar and hybrid tac­tics in the years ahead. Mean­while, he added, the U.S. Army is engaged in adapt­ing itself to con­front the new strate­gic envi­ron­ment of the 21st cen­tu­ry.

First, he said, the Army is work­ing to mas­ter irreg­u­lar war­fare “to pre­vail in coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paigns.”

Sec­ond, the U.S. mil­i­tary needs “to con­tin­ue to engage with oth­er coun­tries’ secu­ri­ty forces,” Casey said, “when we’re asked to help them build the capa­bil­i­ties they need to deny their coun­tries to ter­ror­ists.”

Third, he said, U.S. forces need to con­tin­ue to work with civ­il author­i­ties in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“And you have all heard peo­ple say time and time again that we will not win this con­flict by mil­i­tary means alone,” Casey said, not­ing that secur­ing suc­cess in Afghanistan and Iraq is pred­i­cat­ed on the effec­tive inte­gra­tion of all ele­ments of nation­al pow­er, includ­ing diplo­ma­cy, recon­struc­tion, gov­er­nance, rule of law and oth­er types of assis­tance.

Last­ly, and no less impor­tant, Casey said, “we have to be able to deter and defeat hybrid threats and hos­tile state actors.”

By Ger­ry J. Gilmore
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice