A Grand Strategic Approach for the Long War: American National Security in the 21st Century


Ionut Popescu

Document Type


Publication Date



This paper is offering a grand strategic framework to guide US government planners in fighting the war on terror. In order to use American power to advance our political objectives in this era, i.e. to act strategically, the US government should consider acting simultaneously along two interconnected strategic lines of operation. Each line describes a set of capabilities which are required to successfully shape the international system in such a way as to advance American interests and values. On the one hand, the US needs to perfect its capabilities in Hard-Kill operations: these are divided in turn into steady-state activities like covert global operations to eliminate Al Qaeda operatives and surge operations such as successfully conducting what Gen. Jim Mattis and Frank Hoffman called Hybrid Wars. On the other hand, America needs to shape the strategic environment by actively conducting Soft-Kill activities. In a steady state, these activities include, inter-alia, training allied forces to better apprehend terrorists in their own territories, helping build economic or political institutions in undeveloped areas prone to infiltration by Islamic jihadists, and forming intelligence and military partnerships with local actors in strategically important places. In a surge status, the US needs to successfully conduct what the Pentagon now calls Stability, Security, Transition and Reconstruction operations, either to prevent a state from collapsing or following an American military intervention.


Larry Caldwell




Anderson Fund Grant

This document is currently not available here.