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14 CSBA | TOWARD A NEW OFFSET STRATEGY

The Offset Strategy featured four core thrusts: the development of new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and battle management capabilities; the fielding of improved precision-strike weapons; the application of stealth technology to aircraft; and the tactical exploitation of space for ISR, communications, and precision navigation and timing.30 Much of the critical enabling technology for these thrusts was developed through the late 1960s and into the early 1970s. By 1975, DARPA had formulated a detailed, long-term R&D plan focused on improving weapon delivery accuracy; enhancing mobility and firepower of battlefield vehicles; improving communications, including with jam-resistant tactical data-links and “packet communication” networks pioneered with ARPAnet; and new weapon delivery vehicles such as cruise missiles and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs).31 Building upon this strong technological foundation, Under Secretary of Defense Perry testified to Congress in 1978: Precision-guided weapons, I believe, have the potential of revolutionizing warfare. More importantly, if we effectively exploit the lead we have in this field, we can greatly enhance our ability to deter war without having to compete tank for tank, missile for missile with the Soviet Union. We will effectively shift the competition to a technological area where we have a fundamental long-term advantage. … The objective of our precision guided weapon systems is to give us the following capabilities: to be able to see all high value targets on the battlefield at any time; to be able to make a direct hit on any target we can see, and to be able to destroy any target we can hit.32

DARPA combined several technologies for “seeing deep” and “shooting deep” into a technology integration and system proof-of-concept program aptly dubbed “Assault Breaker” in 1978.33 Key initiatives included:

30

For a brief history of this period see Michael Vickers and Robert Martinage, The Revolution in War (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2004), pp. 8–14.

31

Donald Hicks, ARPA/DNA Long Range Research and Development Planning Program, Final Report of the Advanced Technology Panel (Washington, DC: DoD, April 30, 1975).

32

William Perry, Testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearing on Department of Defense Appropriations for FY1977, Part 8: Research and Development, February 28, March 7, 9, 14, 16, and 21, 1978, p. 5598; and Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry, Preventive Defense (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2000), pp. 179–180.

33

Glenn W. Goodman, “Transforming the Warfighting Landscape,” in DARPA, DARPA: 50 Years of Bridging the Gap (Tampa, FL: Faircount LLC, 2008).

Profile for Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

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