A new report argues U.S. adversaries may go beyond the "gray zone" aggression of fracturing American alliances and deploy a strategy of rapidly inflicting unacceptable losses on U.S. and partner military forces. Is this vision of future conflict based on false strategic and political assumptions?
Last week the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command released a new report entitled, “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028.” The title might seem to suggest that the document would only interest die-hard military geeks. But despite its complex and arcane phrasing, the report is actually a fascinating window into how the Army sees future armed conflict and how it intends to prepare for it.
The report expands on the National Defense Strategy, which the Pentagon unveiled in early 2018. That document identified America’s primary security threat as “revisionist powers,” particularly Russia and China. The Army’s new report expands on this idea, labeling Russia the “pacing threat” that will shape capability development over the next few years, while flagging China as the more pressing long-term adversary. While very different in national objectives and capabilities, the report notes, Russia and China “operate in a sufficiently similar manner to orient on their capabilities collectively.” What works to deter or defeat one of them, the Army believes, will also work against the other.