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Smarter Power, Stronger Partners, Volume 1: Exploiting U.S. Advantages to Prevent Aggression

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Technical Report

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RAND Arroyo Center Santa Monica United States

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The proliferation of anti-access and area denial A2AD capabilities threatens to undermine the viability of offensive force projection. Thus, certainty that the United States could decisively defeat any state in all circumstances could be eroding. The U.S. military has taken steps to mitigate these A2AD challenges, but the focus has been primarily on technical and tactical fixes to maintain offensive force-projection capabilities. Meanwhile, the problem is growing, and strong underlying factors favor A2AD over force projection economically and operationally. The research reported here examined trends in military capabilities among potential U.S. adversaries, and the report proposes an alternative way for the United States to secure its interests. Specifically, after accounting for the underlying motivations, technology, and economics of A2AD, the authors argue that countering A2AD will require a new and fundamentally different strategy. Informed by case studies involving China, Russia, and Iran that are detailed in a companion volume and expanded on here, the authors conclude that the United States should, with its partners, adopt a military strategy based on using A2AD to prevent aggression to defend its interests rather than defeating A2AD outright. This strategy would seek to prevent international aggression by enhancing U.S. and allied A2AD capabilities Blue A2AD, pursuing new approaches to limiting the vulnerability of U.S. and allied forces to enemy A2AD, and employing nonmilitary means of coercing would-be aggressors. They conclude that such a strategy would be more effective and likely less expensive than the current approach to securing U.S. global interests.

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