Department of Defense - Caspar weinberger on military power




"I believe the postwar period has taught us several lessons, and from them I have developed six major tests to be applied when we are weighing the use of U.S. combat forces abroad….

"First, the United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies….

"Second, if we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so whole-heartedly, and with the clear intention of winning….

"Third, if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives. And we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives….

"Fourth, the relationship between our objectives and the forces we have committed—their size, composition, and disposition—must be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary….

"Fifth, before the U.S. commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress…. We cannot fighta battle with the Congress at home while asking our troops to win a war overseas….

"Finally, the commitment of U.S. forces to combat should be a last resort."

— Excerpts from "Uses of Military Power," address by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger at the National Press Club, 28 November 1984 —

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