• Military force is a flexible instrument of policy.
• The contemporary strategic environment is complex and requires astute strategy.
• Certain trends, such as cyberwar and military ethics, interact in complex and often unpredictable ways.
Strategy may be complex and difficult. And yet, perhaps with the aid of theory, experience and ideally military genius, the strategist can, indeed must, utilise the military instrument in the service of policy. This can be done in a number of ways. Highlighting the fact that military power is a far more flexible instrument than many assume, this chapter explores the various uses of force in the modern world. These will be divided into six categories: defence, deterrence, compellence, posturing, offence and miscellaneous. It should of course be noted that the actual use of force will often simultaneously cover a number of these categories. It is important to remember that the categorisation of anything rarely reflects the complexities of reality in an absolute sense.
Often, discussion is limited to the first four categories. The exclusion of the fifth and sixth categories may reflect a philosophical and/or ethical shift away from regarding military force as a useful, flexible or legitimate instrument of policy. However, the conflict-ridden international security environment suggests that this is clearly a naive philosophical approach. Take, for example, the recent history of Afghanistan and Iraq. Regardless of the subsequent challenges encountered by the counterinsurgency campaigns in these two wars, it is undeniable that the offensive use of military power removed the Taliban and Ba'athist regimes.
Having discussed the use of force in general conceptual terms, the chapter will conclude by analysing the current and future state of strategy. In particular, the work will explore the interplay amongst various developments in the strategic landscape: military transformation, irregular warfare, nuclear strategy, cyberwar, targeted killing and military ethics.
The use of force
Generally speaking, defending the state/community is the primary function of military force. The defensive use of force has two functions: to repel an attack and to limit the damage caused should an attack occur. What actually constitutes an act of self-defence has become something of a debate since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the Bush administration's response to it.