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40 CSBA | TOWARD A NEW OFFSET STRATEGY

A new offset strategy could take advantage of enduring U.S. technological, operational, and human capital advantages to project power credibly when and where necessary.

will likely confront globally over the coming decades.75 For example, in most areas of the world, persistent ISR presence could be generated with non-stealthy Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk HALE UAVs, Navy MQ-4 Triton broad-area maritime surveillance UAVs, and MQ-9 Reaper MALE UAVs as opposed to somewhat more costly “stealthy” versions of those aircraft, which would be required in mid-to-high threat areas concentrated in Eastern Europe (Russia), the Middle East/Levant (Syria and Iran), and the Western Pacific (China, Russia, and North Korea). Similarly, while offshore long-range strike capacity could be provided more affordably by DDGs than submerged platforms in most areas, additional undersea strike capacity will likely be needed when projecting power against adversaries with the ability to locate and target surface combatants at extended range (e.g., China, increasingly Russia, eventually Iran, and possibly Syria). Finally, as with both its antecedents, a “third” offset strategy should take full advantage of U.S. alliance and security relationships.

Leverage Enduring U.S. Advantages to Project Power Differently Just as the United States exploited its lead in information technology to “look deep” and “shoot deep” into Warsaw Pact territory in the late 1970s and 1980s, confounding Soviet war plans by threating to slow the movement of and weaken reinforcing ground units, a new offset strategy could take advantage of enduring U.S. technological, operational, and human capital advantages to project power credibly when and where necessary, reduce the effectiveness of adversarial investments in A2/AD capabilities, enhance crisis stability and conventional deterrence, and impose costs on rivals as part of a long-term competition. Based on current trends, it appears that enduring sources of U.S. military advantage include unmanned operations; extended-range air operations; low-observable air operations; undersea warfare; and complex systems engineering, integration, and operations.

Unmanned Operations The United States is on the forefront of unmanned system development and operations, especially with respect to advanced autonomous air vehicles such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk and X-47B UCAS-D. With over a decade of experience operating hundreds of UAVs around the world—most especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen—the U.S. military has established a

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In 1981, for example, Secretary Brown asserted, “even with the most sophisticated weapon systems, however, we cannot allow the numerical disparities between us and the Soviets to widen further. Thus, we continue to plan our forces on the basis of a “high-low” mix of high performance, high technology systems with less complicated, less expensive systems. Brown, Department of Defense Annual Report Fiscal Year 1982, p. x.

Profile for Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Toward a New Offset Strategy  

Exploiting U.S. Long-Term Advantages to Restore U.S. Global Power Projection – This report provides a preliminary outline for an offset stra...

Toward a New Offset Strategy  

Exploiting U.S. Long-Term Advantages to Restore U.S. Global Power Projection – This report provides a preliminary outline for an offset stra...