Thursday, April 13, 2017

U.S. - China Competition: Asia-Pacific Land Force Implications

This research project is a Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA)-directed study, conducted by the Army War College and co-sponsored by the Commander, U.S. Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) and the Headquarters, Department of the Army, Directorate of Strategy and Policy (HQDA G-35). The report presents findings and recommendations derived from an 8-month, quick-turn, student-led research and analysis effort. The central theme of the research effort is U.S.-China competition and the development of relevant land force recommendations to compete effectively in the gray zone between peace and war.
Findings include: (1) counter-intuitively, the Asia-Pacific is a land force centric, maritime theater; (2) the U.S.-China relationship emerges as the central “determinant dynamic” for the future of Asia-Pacific international relations; (3) a range of economic, diplomatic, and security relationships impact gray zone competition in the theater; and, (4) the U.S. Army requires a change in mindset to compete successfully in the gray zone, and senior defense and Joint Force leaders must understand the nature of this space to create a force capable of competing.
The report offers nine specific recommendations and a two-tier implementation plan to integrate those recommendations into defense management processes.
The first category facilitates changes in both the mindset and the way that the U.S. approaches winning in gray zone competition. This first recommendation calls for an integrated campaigning concept to provide a new lexicon, new campaign design, and new principles to guide the conduct of cooperative and coercive theater campaigns.
The second recommendation category addresses access and readiness through partners and presence.
The primary implementation objective is a rebalance of defense management processes and resource prioritization, from an exclusive combat readiness focus to an appreciation of the interrelationship between war fighting and winning the gray zone competition. The implementation plan recommendations embrace a two-tiered (near-term, longer-term) approach. Near-term, “first-steps” include concept and doctrine development to allow for “functional area analysis” and “functional needs analysis” assessments to establish feasible requirements.
Long-term force management options include capabilities developed exclusively for use by U.S. forces, U.S.-developed capabilities for FMS, and regional partner-generated capabilities. Unless the threat profile in the region shifts significantly, U.S.-centric development of the full spectrum of recommended solutions may not be feasible. Therefore, it is imperative that the United States collaborate with regional partners to develop concepts and conduct JCTDs that will facilitate strategic force management options. No matter who fields this capability, the United States must provide leadership in the near-term to incentivize and mature the concept and capabilities. Regardless of the U.S. economy, defense budgets, or threat profile facing the United States in the next 20 years, the report recommends immediate action on “near-term” recommendations to make a future decision between strategic force development options possible.

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