Managing Military Operations in Crises
A Conference Report
This report documents the results of a conference on Military Operations and Crisis Management, held at RAND in January 1990 to explore issues concerning the use of military force in crises. The conference brought together active-duty and retired military officers, analysts, academic experts, and policy officials. Together they examined the constraints on and special requirements for force employment in crises that potentially involve the superpowers in a nuclear escalation. Tension can arise between the conflicting logics and imperatives of force and diplomacy when two nuclear-armed superpowers seek to have a war without shooting at each other. The logic of force employment in crisis thus differs from that in war. Conference participants concluded that the political signal that might be intended by the manipulation of military forces may not be understood by the adversary. Political leaders must understand the possible costs and risks in military terms of actions taken with military forces. Military leaders, on the other hand, must recognize the nature of the crisis management challenge to political leaders. Finally, political leaders must communicate their objectives clearly to those in charge of implementing them.