David H. Hackworth
May 7,1996



STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Stockholm is composed of 14 islands surrounded by the Baltic Sea and Lake Malar. This enchanting city, encircled by sparkling. pristine water-ways and linked by a bracelet of bridges, is justifiably renowned for its beauty.

In the old heart of this fairy tale city, I watched fishermen haul in large catches of healthy fish, and there was nary a robber or dope dealer in sight. There were also no beggars, no street people, no litter, no sirens - only pleasant people who made me feel safe and welcome.

Our globe-trotting lawmakers should whip over here on one of their taxpayer-sponsored junkets and find out how their Swedish counterparts run this admirable country a lot more successfully than they run ours.

The Swedish army invited me to participate in discussions at its War College and with its elite Coastal Rangers on combat leadership and how wars of the future will be fought. The Swedish War College, as opposed to ours, still teaches about weapons and tactics and how to win wars. And its Rangers, as hard-core as ours, are chips off the old Viking block - a rare group of professional fighting men.

During one far-ranging seminar, we theorized that future wars will wear two masks: one, high intensity conflict (HIC), and the other, low intensity conflict (LIC).

HIC will be faster, more destructive, more lethal, with continual mind-blowing technical breakthroughs dramatically changing current doctrine, forces, weapons and budgets. HIC will be a microchip-computer-satellite-controlled electronic chess game in which combatants will vaporize one another long distance.

Because all this exotic stuff will gobble up defense dollars big time, future HIC forces will be radically smaller. By the middle of the 21st century, 10 spaceships carrying 100 Star War troopers will be able to mass anywhere in the world within a few hours, with more firepower than a World War II tank division.

Stuff right out of Buck Rogers! The 21st century gear will make Desert Storm weapons as obsolete as Viking swords and longboats.

But HICs won't happen with the frequency of 20th century wars. The HIC bang would be too destructive. No modern state would survive to walk away as a winner.

Instead, conflict between opponents will be played out much like the Cold War nuclear stalemate between Moscow and Washington, with a doctrine similar to mutual assured destruction to keep the missiles in the silos. Hopefully, this Mexican standoff will last forever or, worst-case scenario, until some fruitcake like Saddam Hussein sits behind a high-tech command console with his finger on the button.

Paradoxically, while we ready for HIC high noons, there will be hundreds of LICs, fought mainly in the world's big cities. In these man-to-man shoot-outs, HIC high-tech goodies would be as useless as a Star War missile in a street fight in the back alleys of Mogadishu.

LICs will be fueled mainly by tribalism, religious fundamentalism, nationalism and ethnic showdowns. They'll be controlled by the ayatollahs, war lords, gang and drug bosses, Mafia-like crime syndicates and rent-an-army mercenary generals like former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Carl Vuono, who recently did his thug thing in Croatia and is now making a buck in Bosnia.

At last count, there were about 60 LICs going on around the globe, and they'll become even more frequent as the New World disorder expands

By around the year 2000, LICs, spearheaded by terrorism, will burn like summer forest fires around the globe. These attacks will include Sarajevo-like razing of cities, frequent terrorist bombings like the ones in New York City and Oklahoma City, chemical attacks such as the sarin gas released last year in the Japanese subways, biological attacks and even nuclear attacks from portable, suitcase-size atomic weapons.

Obviously, a large soldier-intensive force will be needed to fight LICs, but under present Pentagon priorities there won't be enough defense dollars to go around. Most are already earmarked to prepare for HICs.

But defense planners must prep for both LIC and HIC, not just the big-bang war, which, while great for all the defense contractors' bottom lines, is bad news for the city dwellers.