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Striking the Balance: US Army Force Posture in Europe, 2028


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In August 2018, then-Secretary of the Army Mark Esper directed the US Army War College to make recommendations regarding what US Army force posture, capabilities, footprint, and command and control structure in Europe were necessary to meet the objectives identified in the unclassified Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) by 2028. The study also drew on key documents such as the Army Vision, Army Strategy, Army Modernization Strategy, and The US Army in Multi-Domain Operations, 2028. The ideal force posture needs to accomplish a range of ongoing and contingency missions and also be adaptive enough to remain viable despite any number of potential swings in resources, military balance, or the domestic politics of allies. Put differently, the challenge of developing force posture is to develop one solution that might be put to the test by a range of different possible futures. Preparing for a range of possible futures leads the team to favor adaptability and resilience along with strategic and operational effect. In an era of upheaval, the US Army cannot afford to stake its utility to the nation on a force posture that can be rendered obsolete by a single budget, new technology, or foreign election. Within the context of Europe, the US Army must develop a force posture that best navigates the tensions between three priorities identified in the unclassified summary of the NDS (any future reference to the NDS in this executive summary will be a reference to the unclassified summary of the NDS, referenced above): deterring or defeating armed conflict at acceptable cost, successfully competing below armed conflict, and maintaining global responsiveness and institutional flexibility through the global operating model and dynamic force employment. Any acceptable solution must fall within the bounds of all threenone can simply be disregarded as unimportantbut there is scope for hard decisions as to which elements should be emphasized over the others.



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