Operation Just Cause

Lessons for Operations Other Than War

by Jennifer Taw


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The study of past operations is helpful in defining U.S. Army roles and functions in military operations other than war (OOTW) and in assessing the range of missions and requirements the Army is likely to face in the future. Operation Just Cause (OJC) can be distinguished from subsequent OOTW — in Kuwait, Iraq, Bangladesh, Bosnia, and Somalia — in part because it was a unilateral effort that did not involve coalition issues or problems. Nor did the United States have to coordinate its efforts with nongovernment organizations or humanitarian relief organizations. Nevertheless, OJC offers the Army some practical lessons for current and future OOTW: (1) Army training in military operations on urban terrain (MOUT) is inadequate; (2) electronic intelligence is insufficient in OOTW and must be supplemented by human intelligence and imagery; (3) efforts to streamline joint operations must not overlook service-specific needs, and must take care to maximize the use of special operations forces by employing them in the specialized tasks for which they were trained; (4) more emphasis is needed on equipment technology for the special requirements of MOUT; (5) planning for OOTW must not overlook or underemphasize stability operations (as was the case in OJC); and (6) civilian agencies (including the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development) must be involved in the planning for most OOTW, but need to develop the capability to offer valuable and timely contributions.

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