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Sustaining U.S. Leadership in the Asia-Pacific Region: Why a Strategy of Direct Defense Against Antiaccess and Area Denial Threats Is Desirable and Feasible

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Amid the seemingly unrelenting welter of security-related crises U.S. and allied leaders have faced in recent years, it has not gone unnoticed that trends in the capabilities of conventional military forces have, from the perspective of the United States, been moving in an unfavorable direction over the past decade or more. This realization has not been the result of any failed military operations at the hands of a regional state adversary. Indeed, in 2011, U.S. and allied forces were able to decisively tip the balance against Muammar Gaddafi s Libyan forces without really breaking a sweat. Rather, observers have been impressed by other indicators of growing threats to U.S. military dominance. The steady, impressive growth of China s military capabilities, coupled with its development of strategies for counterintervention, has been the leading source of concern in this regard. But other states, including Russia, Iran, and North Korea and even some nonstate actors, such as Hezbollah, have also demonstrated growing mastery of military capabilities that have the potential to raise the costs and risks of military intervention dramatically on their territories or in their regions. A debate over the appropriate set of responses strategic, operational, and technical has begun. The debate encompasses a range of views, from those who call for increased levels of U.S. engagement to advocates of disengagement from the security affairs of key regions. The outcome of that debate and the extent to which the United States and its leading security partners will be able to develop capabilities and concepts adequate to the challenge will be critical factors shaping future dynamics in the international system. This perspective is intended as a contribution to this debate. It does not offer definitive answers to the question of precisely what capabilities and concepts the U.S. Department of Defense DoD should pursue.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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