The Atrophy of Land Power: A Strategic Risk?
ARMY WAR COLLEGE CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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The debate about land powers future will always surface in the lulls between peace and war. As part of this debate on land powers role and what it provides the nation, this paper offers for consideration a disturbing byproduct of two decades of limited war. It questions our services ability to fulfill its mandate to the joint force in conflicts beyond the stability spectrum. It asserts that the atrophying of our land power in Combined Arms Maneuver over the last two decades of persistent limited war places us at strategic risk. At a minimum, it restricts strategic options, and at worse, it threatens our services ability to win in an unforeseen high-end conflict. We are at a tipping point at which the institutional memory of how to conduct maneuver warfare beyond the platoon level is almost lost, requiring relearning versus retraining. The Army must act now to stop the decay and retrain a lost generation of professionals. This will strengthen the Armys mandate and reduce the window of strategic risk. We must rebalance our tactical, stability-oriented doctrines to meet the full spectrum of conflict. And, we must lead the next generation, creating a new culture of Army readiness and preparedness that will serve our nation and its land forces well in a volatile, unpredictable tomorrow.
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