Over the Horizon: U.S. Army Must Define Role in a Future With No Enemies

By Robert Farley, on , Column

What future does the United States Army face? During eight years of operations in Iraq and 10 years in Afghanistan, the Army has shifted from being a force focused on high-intensity conventional operations to one more comfortable fighting a dispersed enemy intermingled with the population. However, operations are winding down in Iraq, and an endpoint seems to be nearing in Afghanistan. Armed with the collective experience developed in the War on Terror, how will the Army move forward to face new challenges and threats? The answers involve political and military considerations that may contradict each other.

The fact that the Army lacks a clear opponent to define itself against complicates its ability to make a case for its future role. The Navy and the Air Force may face difficulties explaining their roles to a skeptical public, and they may also have problems developing a cooperative doctrinal framework, AirSea Battle, for potential hostilities with China. Nevertheless, they both seem to have an identifiable mission against a peer competitor opponent. Moreover, they both potentially have a big-picture story to tell about the role that they play in the world. The Navy acts as the guarantor of world maritime trade and American prosperity, while the global reach and global power of the Air Force serve as a deterrent to potential wrongdoers worldwide. ...

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