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To Maintain U.S. Primacy, Standoff Power is not Enough

Monday, Jan. 30, 2012

As the United States disengages from Iraq and Afghanistan and enters a period of declining defense spending, the argument that technology is rendering land power obsolete has been resurrected. The appeal of substituting standoff military methods -- such as air- and sea-based missiles and unmanned drones -- for a balanced capability is clear: Everyone favors minimizing U.S. casualties. Recent advances in technology have only strengthened this temptation. This means that as the U.S. military downsizes in coming years, land power may take a disproportionate cut. But before committing to such an approach, Americans must think carefully about its implications.

In the decades after World War II, the United States accepted the role of global power but sought to limit the blood cost of using force. This was done through the constant pursuit of a qualitative advantage in military technology and equipment, the use of operational methods designed to minimize U.S. casualties and cooperation with allies and coalition partners. It also led to an emphasis on standoff military methods in order to put as few Americans as possible in harm's way. ...

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