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War is Boring: U.S. Battle Plan for Pacific Hinges on Reform, Allies

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010

In the 1980s, NATO ground troops in Europe faced a Warsaw Pact force of overwhelming size. To prepare to blunt a Soviet-led attack and overcome the Warsaw Pact's numerical superiority, NATO adopted a revolutionary new idea. The so-called "AirLand Battle" concept, which originated in the U.S. Army's training command, posited that forward-deployed NATO tanks and missile-armed infantry, supported by jet fighters carrying smart munitions, could beat a larger Warsaw Pact army.

In Europe, the AirLand Battle concept never had a chance to prove itself. But its tenets shaped the U.S. approach to ground warfare in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 as well as in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Today, the U.S. Navy is hoping to capture some of the AirLand Battle's reforming potential as it scrambles to preserve its dominance of the western Pacific in the face of a rising Chinese military. But the emerging AirSea Battle doctrine risks foundering for a lack of cash and hardware. U.S.-allied governments that could help compensate for America's waning resources might be turned off by AirSea Battle's risky aims and aggressive overtones. ...

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