Speech on Military Strategy, Michael Mullen, Kansas State University

During the Cold War, it was largely the strategy of containment that dominated our thinking – the notion that military force, or more importantly, the threat of military force was best applied in preventing the spread of communism through nuclear deterrence and/or conventional alliances. So came our nuclear triad, and the theory of mutually assured destruction, and the advent of NATO.

During World War II, we followed a doctrine very much akin to that used by Gen. Grant in the Civil War – attrition of the enemy force. To accomplish this, however, we needed also to attack the enemy population’s will to fight. And so came the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima and Nagasaki – on and on. Farther back in our past, we could go, from the trench warfare of World War I to the limited conventional war we fought against Spain in 1898, to the unconventional wars we fought against the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800s.

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