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Underkill: Scalable Capabilities for Military Operations amid Populations

Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The U.S. military is ill-equipped to strike at extremists who hide in populations. Using deadly force against them can harm and alienate the very people whose cooperation U.S. forces are trying to earn. To solve this problem, a new RAND study proposes a "continuum of force"--a suite of capabilities that includes sound, light, lasers, cell phones, and video cameras. These technologies are available but have received insufficient attention.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4712-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    During counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, the population is not just the field of battle but the prize of battle. Success depends on earning the cooperation of the people, whose security thus becomes one of the chief responsibilities of COIN forces. Early 21st-centrury battles have demonstrated the disadvantages faced by a force that lacks adequate options to act forcefully against insurgents without risking death or serious harm to noncombatants. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and, most recently, Gaza, enemy fighters have hidden in dense populations, challenging—practically daring—U.S., coalition, or Israeli forces to attack. In all three cases, superb armies with precision...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The Policy Setting
    (pp. 11-26)

    American generals like to say that the purpose of U.S. forces is to fight and win the nation’s wars. But they and the rest of us know that nowadays it is not that simple. In the current security environment, conflict with the armed forces of other states is but one of several important missions.¹ Since the Gulf War of 1990–1991, U.S. forces have engaged in protracted COIN campaigns, postconflict stabilization and reconstruction operations, clandestine searches for terrorists, humanitarian intervention, multilateral peacekeeping, local security-force capacity-building, domestic and foreign disaster relief, and a variety of other missions. These missions differ markedly...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Possibilities
    (pp. 27-40)

    Before analyzing in detail the capabilities required for a continuum of force, there is a need to assess whether such a continuum is possible, broadly speaking. The basic standard of effectiveness for the continuum of force suggested here is the ability to control a situation or group of people without killing, harming, or alienating noncombatants while at the same time disadvantaging any enemy combatants in their midst. Bydisadvantaging, we mean restricting and reducing the ability of enemy combatants to carry out hostile intentions, interfere with U.S. missions, or fight another day. Meeting this standard will not be easy. To...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Requirements
    (pp. 41-82)

    Chapter Two laid out a general case for making U.S. military forces capable of employing a continuum of force. Chapter Three indicated that such a capability ought to be possible. The next step is to identify the properties and composition, predicated on operating requirements, of continuum-of-force capabilities. Our method of doing so was to choose, describe, and analyze a large set of representative situations across a wide range of mission areas in which the binary choice between deadly force and inaction may be inadequate.

    The chosen scenarios, presented by overall mission area, are

    Eliminating important targets. Specifically,

    conducting deep urban...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Technology Options
    (pp. 83-94)

    Having established that a continuum of force, as a total system, will require (1) capabilities that produce effects, (2) information and communication, and (3) user skills, the search for options can begin with the first requirement: the means of affecting physically, physiologically, or psychologically the functioning and behavior of persons of concern.

    A number of technologies that lend themselves to producing such operationally relevant effects are being pursued by the military research and development community, and by JNLWD in particular. However, we did not restrict our investigation of relevant technologies to options already being pursued; for example, we also examined...

  14. CHAPTER SIX A Promising Approach
    (pp. 95-110)

    The preceding chapter identified options to enable small military units operating amid populations to defuse threats, including unexpected ones, and to carry out their missions without having to kill or harm noncombatants. Although the list of alternatives identified is not exhaustive, it is indicative, and thus permits preliminary conclusions about which technologies are most promising.

    The alternatives can be assessed according to criteria based on strategic and policy requirements (from Chapter Two) and operating requirements (from Chapter Four). As previously described, we drew operating requirements from numerous representative scenarios across the following types of important noncombat missions:


    humanitarian intervention...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Operation, Preparation, and Organization
    (pp. 111-122)

    Having found that a suite consisting of sound, light, lasers, cell-phone communication, and video observation could provide a continuum of force, we turn next to the important matter of developing a concept of operation (CONOP) to maximize the utility of such a suite in the field. As previously stated, this combination of capabilities has the potential to reduce reliance on unnecessary levels of force against the populace while still accomplishing the job at hand through a flexible sequence of operations that may include warning, sorting, dissuading, disorienting, impeding, and (if necessary) incapacitating groups who are hostile, nonhostile, or some of...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Feasibility, Integration, and Implementation
    (pp. 123-130)

    The two preceding chapters demonstrate that the need for a general-purpose continuum-of-force capability that is scalable from nonviolent to lethal effects could be met by aportable suite of directed sound and light, including lasers, area-wide cell-phone messaging, video-cameras, and a well-prepared, specialized team-within-unit. Before considering how such a suite could be integrated, it is important to be sure the technical hurdles associated with each component are known and can be overcome with reasonable effort. These components seem feasible, but a closer examination is warranted before drawing conclusions.

    As already noted, directed sound may be used to hail or warn...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Conclusion and Recommendations
    (pp. 131-134)

    As is always the case with the development and deployment of a new capability, one is left facing the question,Who is to do what now?We recommend the use of a well-established model: the executive agent. Currently, the Marine Corps is the executive agent for nonlethal weapons. We have made clear that “nonlethal weapons” is far too narrow as both a concept and a capability. The task is to create a continuum of force from the nonviolent to the lethal in the form of a portable, versatile, scalable, and feasible general solution—an integrated suite that the typical small...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 135-138)