U.S. Forces in the Middle East: Resources and Capabilities

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview

4
The Focus of US Planning and Strategy Shifts to Major Regional Contingencies

Many of the details regarding the nature of US planning for a major regional conflict in the Gulf remain classified. It is clear, however, that Secretary Aspin took a decision early in the Bottom Up Review process to choose force packages associated with a strategy and force requirements that called for an American capability to win two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts. In the briefing materials Aspin released on September 1, 1993, he justified this decision by stating: 39

This is prudent for two reasons: First, we need to avoid a situation in which the United States in effect makes simultaneous wars more likely by leaving an opening for potential aggressors to attack their neighbors, should our engagement in a war in one region leave little or no force available to respond effectively to defend our interests in another.

Second, fielding forces sufficient to win two wars nearly simultaneously provides a hedge against the possibility that a future adversary--or coalition of adversaries--might one day confront us with a larger-than expected threat. In short, it is difficult to predict precisely what threats we will confront ten to twenty years from now. In this dynamic and unpredictable post-Cold War world, we must maintain military capabilities that are flexible and sufficient to cope with unforeseen threats.

For the bulk of our ground, naval and air forces, fielding forces sufficient to provide this capability involves duplicating the major regional contingency (MRC) building block described above. However, in planning our overall force structure, we must recognize two other factors. First, we must have sufficient strategic lift to deploy forces when and where we need them. Second, certain specialized high-leverage units or unique assets might be "dual tasked," that is used in both major regional conflicts.

Secretary Aspin also stated in a booklet on the Bottom Up Review, released by the Department of Defense on September 1st, that,

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