AUGUST 10, 2023

Strategy || Dimension of Strategy || US War on Terror


Global war on terrorism is an international military and political activities launched by the USA government (George W. Bush) after the 9/11 attacks. Strategy is a plan or goal that uses various tactics to achieve. 

It is basically the use of military power for political purposes. Different dimensions are required to form a strategy. Misapplication of any dimension is considered as weakness of a strategy. 

In this paper, I will discuss about the dimensions of strategy and how was the use of various dimensions in the formulation of strategy of the “Global War on Terrorism”.


  •       Strategy is how to effectively use the power of one state and plan to achieve one’s own advantage by destroying the advantage of others.
  •          Strategy is the way how military power is used or distributed to achieve a goal.
  •          Strategy is an issue that connects military power and political purposes.

The dimensions of Strategy

The strategy has a total of seventeen dimensions which are divided into three categories:

1. People and Politics (people, Society, Culture, Politics and Ethics and morality)

2. Preparation for war (Economic and logistics, military administration, intelligence and information, technology and strategic theory and doctrine)

3. War Proper (Military operations, Command, Friction, Chance and Uncertainty, Adversary and Time)

To discuss various dimensions of strategy I will focus on the Global war on terror.

People and Politics


People means a part of politics and politics can never survive without people. The people represent the state.

George W. Bush represented the USA by declaring war on terrorism. Iraq is represented by Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda (the Taliban, Afghanistan) is represented by Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban grew up fighting in a mountainous terrain and they were so organized that they could not be defeated in the long run. On the contrary, being a super power, the tendency to dominate the thinking of the American people can be noticed. Carrying out attacks is a historic responsibility for America and its allies.

Over time, people’s thinking and consciousness changes, which represents politics in different ways. The USA went to war with the Taliban in 2001 but they currently settlement an agreement. With the change of time, they are now focusing on other policies (climate change, covid19, China-USA relations etc.)


The USA adopts an aggressive policy while the less powerful states adopt a defensive policy to protect themselves. The society of the USA is an opener society, while the society of Afghanistan and Iraq is a conservative society.


          The culture of each state is different. Society teaches us how to handle any work. The culture of the USA is different from the culture of Iraq and Afghanistan.


               Culture determines whether politics is good or bad. One man’s terrorist another man’s freedom fighter.

Ethics and Morality

               No ethics will work in strategy making. Whatever is beneficial for the state will be done. There was no ethics behind the USA war on terror. They start it to achieve their own interests. It is said that counter terrorism is not the politics of suppressing terrorism and not the politics of establishing democracy, it is the politics of oil.

Preparation for War

            A state must ensure its economic, intellectual, technological and military capabilities before engaging in war.

Economic and Logistics

              In addition to providing food to the troops, security measures must be taken. A state must be economically strong to ensure these. To ensure these is the responsibility of the civilian/political leaders. No one can predict the final cost before the war starts. The state must be watchful in this regard at all times. The Iraq war was estimated to cost 2 billion a month, but three months later the estimated monthly expenditure doubled to 3.9 billion.

Military Administration

                       George W. Bush increased military power to oust Al-Qaeda in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Tower. He trained the traditional Army, recruited additional troops and formed trained military units (Special Operations Forces -SOF) to conduct war on terrorism.

Special Forces Capabilities:-

                             1. Special Reconnaissance and surveillance in hostile environments.

                             2. Foreign internal defense.

                             3. Offensive Action

                             4. Counter-terrorism operations

                             5. Counter-insurgency

                             6. Sabotage and demolition

Information and Intelligence

The formation of a strategy depends on adequate amount of information, technology, politics, geography and munitions. Deception plays an important role in formulating strategy.

Al-Qaeda has been blamed for 9/11 attacks and USA identified that Osama bin Laden stayed in Afghanistan, and based on that information, the USA has developed a strategy to attack there.

USA government knew that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that was wrong information. The USA has been the victim of misinformation in the war on terror, the price of which is still to be paid.

Based on technology that the USA had, various strategies were adopted, including assassination of Osama bin Laden. Black Hawk down helicopters were used to kill Osama bin Laden and drones were used to provide round-the-clock information to the white house. Also existing technologies in the USA- Electrical-optics, Integrated circuits, embedded computing, Infrared sensor and motion detector.

Facebook, twitter, Snapchat and YouTube have been shown to be the means of communication between terrorists and Osama bin Laden and inspired his followers through videotapes. This information influences the formulation of USA strategy.

Strategic Theory and doctrine

The main goal of the invasion of Afghanistan was to overthrow the Taliban, establish a democratic government. To corner the Taliban and the invasion of Afghanistan, make and implement of various tactics that are part of strategic doctrine.

The USA planned to overthrow the Taliban through a framework and took preparation for war by increasing economic power, military power and creating public opinion that is strategic theory.


Technology is very important for war and it depends on the society how the user will use the technology. The USA developed technology after 9/11 attacks. They had high quality drones explosives etc. They use offensive technology as the superpower of the world.

War Proper


Military Operations          

Military Operations are usually about threatening the enemy and implementing strategies and tactics.

Al-Qaeda was blamed and Taliban leader was told to hand over Osama bin Laden to the USA and close all Al-Qaeda training camps. Otherwise, USA will attack them. The Taliban leader did not agree, asking the USA to provide evidence that Bin Laden was behind the attack, which the USA denied.

Operation Enduring freedom” began on October 7, 2001. NATO participated in this war. Initially the USA didn’t send troops in Afghanistan. They threw bombs from above and conducted with them by helping anti-Taliban groups. Shortly afterwards, USA and NATO troops entered in Afghanistan, and the Taliban were forced to relinquish power in mid-November. The USA learned of bin Laden’s location in December and sent local militant groups of Afghanistan. They could not catch Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban officially collapsed in December and Taliban leaders including Mullah Omar, fled the capital Kabul and took refuge in various mountain caves. From there, Taliban continued to fight against the USA and NATO.

The USA has not been able to seize absolute power in Afghanistan. Many areas were still under Taliban control.

In 2009, Barak Obama adopted a new plan. He sent 17,000 troops and talked of making a deal with Pakistan. He planned to assassinate him and succeeded. However, the USA has not yet achieved its goal. More anarchy is created instead of peace.


Command is very important for conducting war. No strategy can be perfect without a balance between military leaders and political leaders.

USA president George W. Bush has served as political leader in the war on terror. Later Barak Obama came as a political leader. Osama bin Laden assassination shows a balance between political leaders and military leaders.

Bureaucratic organizations/political leaders legitimize the war and supply the cost of the war. On the other hand, the military leaders conduct operations. It is never possible to conduct to war without two compatibilities.

Political leaders decide whether or not to go to war, and ceasefires are also conducted by political leaders. Compromise agreement with Taliban executed by political leaders (Barak Obama, Donald Trump, Joe Biden) and calls for troop withdrawal by 2021. 

However, there is little consensus between military and political leaders on strategies for the war on terror.  Although allegations made by political leaders against Saddam Hussein in the Iraq war, the overall situation on the battlefield was the troops disintegrated and showed sympathy for Saddam.

Friction, Chance and Uncertainty

There was uncertainty about how long the Iraq war would last. Plans to open a large front in the North were thwarted when the Turkish government refused to allow mechanical and armored USA military units to pass through Turkey.


There must be animosity between the two sides to conduct the war. After 9/11 attacks, hostile relations developed between the United States and Afghanistan. Allegations of weapons of mass destruction have caused animosity between Iraq and the United States. War broke out in various states in the name of establishing democracy.


            That war must be fought when it needs to be fought because if it is done later, it will not have any legitimacy. Conducting war before and after the time will not be effective that means states have to war at the right time.

          In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the United States identified Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization, launched an offensive against Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban. But later, a long stay in Afghanistan in the name of establishing democracy was unprofitable for the United States. The invasion of Iraq on false charges in the name of terrorism has not yielded any effective results in the long run.


             Dimensions have not been properly applied in the strategies developed by United States for the war on terror. And that’s why the war on terror has had short-term success, but not long-term success.


             In order to conduct a war, one must form a strategy and use different dimensions to create a strategy. To know whether a strategy is good or bad, one needs to know about the application of dimensions as well as contexts and themes. The united States attacks on various states in the name of the war on terror are not succeeding in the long-run, but are creating more chaos (the rising of ISIL/ ISIS)


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