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A Hard Look at Hard Power: Assessing the Defense Capabilities of Key U.S. Allies and Security Partners

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Since the end of World War II, the United States has made maintaining a favorable balance of power in Eurasia a core element of its national security strategy. It did so in good measure by maintaining a large conventional military force that was based not only at home, but also in bases spread across Europe and Asia. That strategy was buttressed by developing security ties and alliances with key powers and frontline states. The implicit bargain was that the United States would help keep the peace on their door front if they would provide access from which American forces could operate and, in turn, maintain credible forces themselves to reinforce and support U.S. efforts at keeping the great power peace. The question raised by this collection of essays is Is that bargain unraveling As the following chapters note, since the end of the great power threat posed by the Soviet Union, both the United States and its principal allies have seen fit to cut the size of their forces substantially and, in most cases, slowed efforts at replacing military systems and platforms. The quandary many of America s allies have faced is, on the one hand, reforming their militaries to make them more expeditionary and useful for addressing various security problems such as piracy, terrorism, and the instability brought about by collapsing regimes. On the other hand, not having the political resources at home to prioritize defense spending in the face of domestic demands and, more recently, faltering economies are also problems that need to be considered. The result is smaller, half-modernized militaries with often significant gaps in key capabilities. The strategic problem is that, while its allies and partners have shrunk their militaries, so too has the United States.

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  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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