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U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World: Rethinking the U.S. Approach to Force Planning

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RAND Corporation Santa Monica United States

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The state of the U.S. armed forces today is not so much debated as it is debatable. A range of beliefs is held, and these beliefs are articulated with greater or lesser degrees of authority. However, the arguments never seem to converge toward resolution. As recently as March 2014, thenSecretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asserted that, provided U.S. forces were funded at the levels called for by the administrations pending budget request, those forces would be capable of simultaneously defending the homeland conducting sustained, distributed counterterrorist operations and in multiple regions, deterring aggression and assuring allies through forward presence and engagement. He went on to state that if deterrence should fail, U.S. forces could defeat a regional adversary in a large-scale multiphased campaign, and deny the objectives of - or impose unacceptable costs on - another aggressor in another region. At the same time, thenGen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that, notwithstanding planned investments in U.S. military capabilities, he expected the risk of interstate conflict in East Asia to rise, the vulnerability of our platforms and basing to increase, our technology edge to erode, instability to persist in the Middle East, and threats posed by extremist organizations to endure. Within Congress, some elected officials decry the poor state of readiness of U.S. forces and point with alarm to growing threats from China, Russia, North Korea, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS, and elsewhere. At the same time, other voices in Congress insist that the U.S. Department of Defense DoD budget should be reduced substantially.

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Technical Report



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