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Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel observes a training scenario at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 16, 2014 (DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt).

Hagel’s ‘Third Offset Strategy’ Key to Maintaining U.S. Military Supremacy

Monday, Dec. 29, 2014

In a Nov. 15 speech to the Reagan National Defense Forum, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the creation of a Pentagon initiative to develop new military technologies and operational concepts to counter growing threats to U.S. military supremacy. He noted that potential American adversaries are increasingly able to field advanced weaponry that rivals U.S. capabilities at a time when the Pentagon finds itself in a severely constrained fiscal environment. According to Hagel, the new initiative will seek to produce breakthrough innovations and eventually “develop into a game-changing third ‘offset’ strategy” that will allow the United States to remain the world’s dominant military power in an increasingly challenging security environment.

The two previous U.S. offset strategies were implemented during the Cold War. The first, adopted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration during the 1950s, relied on the vast size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal to offset the Soviet Union’s enormous numerical superiority in conventional forces. The second offset strategy began to emerge two decades later. By the mid-1970s, the Soviets were approaching nuclear parity with the United States, a development that appeared to undermine the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Having downsized considerably after the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military continued to find itself heavily outnumbered by Soviet forces. American defense planners turned to advanced technology as a way to even the playing field. ...

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