Flexible Presence: A Concept for the 21st Century
INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALYSES ALEXANDRIA VA
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With the end of the Cold War and the advent of a much leaner U.S. military, some question the value to the United States of an overseas military presence. This paper discusses why presence remains important, the objectives of presence in the context of the U.S. national security strategy, and how presence operations can help achieve those objectives. It concludes that CINCs and Joint Staff planners should think about presence globally -- anywhere it might best support our strategy. To maximize our presence reach, they should consider the capabilities of all the Services, and plan to conduct operations using situationally tailored force packages. Accordingly, they should break the Navy and the Marine Corps out of their schedules of deployments to traditional areas of responsibility and use maritime assets as part of tailored force packages wherever required to achieve our objectives. Finally, when thinking about deterrence, planners should focus on small Navy and Marine Corps task forces deployed forward, backed up by rapidly deployable forces from CONUS. They should exploit the abilities of maritime forces to loiter near the scenes of developing crises to deter conflict, and of CONUS-based forces to strike or reinforce quickly if needed. Flexible presence should be a guiding strategic concept for the 21st century.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics