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U.S. Projection Forces: Requirements, Scenarios, and Options

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Research paper

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Each year Department of Defense DoD funding requests include money for the operation and modernization of U.S. projection forces -- forces that are configured primarily to respond rapidly to Presidential directives for long-distance entry into enemy territory against armed opposition. They include the two divisions of the U.S. Army XVIII Corps the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airmobile Divisions, the three active Marine divisions and air wings, and parts of the sea-based Navy and Air Force tactical air forces. The issue before the Congress is one of choosing among alternate levels and modernization programs for these forces. Since World War II, most of these forces have been used primarily outside NATOs Central Region in Europe. They are generally thought of in relation to non-European contingencies and, in fact, are likely to be used if the United States were to employ military force rapidly outside Europe. Projection forces are planned, however, to help the United States pursue what has been called a one-and-one-half war strategy, namely, the capacity to wage simultaneously a major conflict centered in Europe with the Warsaw Pact and a less demanding military contingency elsewhere. Thus, the size and structure of the projection forces that the Congress is asked to fund derives from the way the DoD estimates they might be used both in Europe and elsewhere. The scenarios DoD employs as analytic devices to size and structure forces are purposely constructed to be very demanding. These scenarios reflect major assumptions that inherently generate high force requirements 1 that the United States would have little support from allies 2 that a half war demanding considerable U.S. resources could occur concurrently with a major war centered in Europe 3 that such a conflict might involve Soviet forces and 4 that many forces employed in a half war -- particularly ground forces -- could not be redeployed for operations in the major conflict.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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