As the United States eventually gets around to looking at the world, a new strategy as well as a new approach to using the tools available to the national command authority will be necessary. Currently, the US is in strategic free fall. The Iraq engagement is ending, the Afghan withdrawal will accelerate, the US will “lead from behind” and the budgetary and debt crisis will accelerate strategic freefall.
Whether this is reversed by political outcomes in 2012 is anyone’s guess, but what is being proffered so far will not amount to a reversal of strategic thinking. Over the past two years, we have seen the Arab spring, the Libyan crisis, the neglect of the Arctic, the further decline of homeland security assets and capabilities, a tepid response to the Gulf Oil Spill, a continued decline in US power projection capabilities, and no real sense of urgency about the place of the US in the world. The US government has begun to look like a giant think tank, rather than a force for re-shaping US forces as we come out of a decade of land warfare. Platitudes are not “strategy” “strategy” “strategy”.
But it is possible to re-think the future of US power projection capabilities, leverage the new platforms we are building and to focus on how we can have enhanced capabilities with allies as they invest their money to have future force capabilities. The coalition part of the equation is crucial to the US and the F-35 program for one was built around it; if US leaders continue to be focused on themselves and their woes and not commit much more fundamentally to this core coalition program, our allies may reflect the comment from Animal House: “Your F….: You trusted us.”
But it is possible to leverage various experiences and capabilities inherited and being built to move forward and to embrace the future with innovation and vigor. We are beginning series on building a Pacific strategy and see this is a modest step in this direction.
This series will be a contribution to the Strategic Whiteboard