In any professional military, strategic planning is implemented for contingency plans in various theaters of war. You can have a competent army but simultaneously be caught off guard in combat if your contingencies need to be thoroughly implemented.

The United States, the strongest capable conventional military on Earth, has struggled with unconventional warfare, as nation-building in unstable countries in the Near East was nearly impossible. Today, it is crucial to differentiate a competent military from its contingencies because you can be a ‘great power’ per se but falter in the war due to poor contingency planning.

What is Capability?

In military terminology, a capability is the ability to achieve a desired effect under specific standards and conditions. The core function of a capability is to accomplish a wartime objective with as minor damage to your warfare capabilities as possible.

The Armed Forces of the United States are a textbook example of achieving military capabilities through superior air and naval capabilities. As a part of military science and intelligence, strategic planning amongst commanders attempts to find ways of defeating an enemy with existing or new concepts.

Post-WWII, the United States and its Western European allies attempted to find capabilities for the threat of conventional war with the Soviet Union, which had a near-endless pool of manpower, tanks, and artillery. NATO would incorporate the central strategy of air superiority, which the Soviet Union and modern-day Russia lacked the capabilities of.

Israel, a small yet capable conventional military, adopted aerial supremacy as their primary doctrine against the Arab coalition that vastly outnumbered them. Using decapitation air raids in the Six-Day War, Tel Aviv decisively changed the fate of the modern-day Middle East in their favor and, in less than a week, forced one of the world’s fastest capitulations.

Members from 10th Special Forces Group conduct squad-level maneuvering and tactics during a Bi-lateral (BILAT) training exercise with the Kosovo Special Intervention Unit on March 10, 2022, in Pristina, Kosovo. The Kosovo BILAT exercise was conducted to strengthen relationships and increase interoperability between partner nations in the Balkans. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt Stanford Toran)

What is a Contingency?

A contingency is a military operation conducted in response to natural disasters, countering terrorist organizations, or a limited armed forces approach against an enemy. The Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) approves all contingency operations for the Armed Forces of America.