Strategy, National Interests, and Means to an End

Stephen D. Sklenka Lieutenant Colonel


The U.S. inability—or unwillingness—to connect strategic ends and appropriate means to accomplish those ends has occurred so often over the past 15 years that one could make a credible argument that it has become a disturbing and pervasive characteristic of the modern American way of war. Beginning with a theoretical discussion of the relationship among ends, means, and strategy, this paper continues by examining specific cases of U.S. intervention from the previous decade and Operation Iraqi Freedom to demonstrate that when the U.S. commits its military forces, success can only be achieved if clear ends are identified, appropriate means are leveraged against those stated ends, and a coherent strategy is developed to coordinate the ends and means.