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Targeting the True Center of Gravity in the U.S. War on Terrorism

Targeting the True Center of Gravity in the U.S. War on Terrorism published on

Authored by Naval War College

In contrast with previous wars aimed at overcoming ideologies such as fascism in World War II or communism in the Cold War, the current “Global War on Terrorism” represents the first American war aimed at a means to an end vice the end itself. Without doubt, the increased ambiguousness of the adversary in this war presents new and more complex challenges in successfully assessing the Clausewitzian dictum of center of gravity. Previously, it was sufficient to pronounce a nation’s military, or its leadership, or its national wealth as its center of gravity, and having identified such, a suitable set of objectives could be fashioned to damage or destroy an adversary’s ability to wage war or his will to fight. However, a war against terrorism demands that one go much further. It is not enough to target any particular terrorist group’s tangible critical factors, such as money, manpower, and bases in the efforts to eliminate that organization. In addition, one must stamp out the very reason that group came into being in the first place, or at least mitigate their influence on their constituent (or non-constituent) audiences. Therefore, the true center of gravity in this conflict can be none other than the connection between a terror organization and its popular base; the true center of gravity is its message.

Publication Date:
Aug 06 2014
1500748412 / 9781500748418
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
Political Science / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism


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