Winning the War: Advanced Weapons, Strategies, and Concepts for the Post-9/11 World
A former Vietnam Green Beret commander and developer of "non-lethal defense" at Los Alamos, retired Army Colonel Alexander argues that too much emphasis has been placed on developing the mass killing power of modern weapons. He makes a predictable alternative case for developing a spectrum of nonlethal technologies, not merely unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors able to penetrate solid obstacles, but face recognizers and brain scanners as well. He advocates synergizing these tools with a new generation of lethal technologies based on "things small and smart," especially robotic systems that will replace humans in such high-risk missions as mine clearing and security patrolling. According to Alexander, in future conflicts these high-tech methods will increasingly be juxtaposed with techniques as old as warfare itself. He cites post-September 11 operations in Afghanistan, where precision-guided bombs supported cavalry charges, then segues into a series of hypothetical future scenarios ranging from a hostage situation in Nepal to major conflicts in the Middle East. While Alexander offers one scenario in which an "obliging enemy" fights a tactically conventional battle and is easily destroyed, he takes pains to demonstrate that America's future wars are most likely to be asymmetric. In the book's final hundred pages, Alexander recommends eviscerating terrorist funding, developing media as a strategic weapon and using precision weapons to target terrorists' families, but predicts an increase in the level and success of terrorist activity to a point where an outraged citizenry calls for massive retaliation with no clear target in sight; Alexander obliges with a series of even more apocalyptic recommendations for winning "World War X." Connections to political and social realities may be tenuous-but no one can accuse him of unwillingness to think outside the box.