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

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview

3
The Impact of Strategy: "Base Force" and "Bottom Up Review"

The shifts that the US has made in its strategy and force plans have also had an important impact on US contingency capabilities. They too reflect the impact of fundamental changes in East-West relations, and of the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Warsaw Pact. They also reflect the impact of major breakthroughs in arms control, such as the INF Treaty and START. As a result, the US has been able to change the focus of its military strategy and force plans to concentrate largely on regional contingencies.


The First Post-Cold War Force Plan: The Bush Administration "Base Force"

These changes in strategy and force plans began during the late 1980s. President Reagan and President Bush signed several of the most sweeping arms control agreements in history. These agreements ended Warsaw Pact superiority in conventional forces, eliminated the deployment of most theater nuclear weapons, and put the US on a path that would reduce the strategic nuclear threat to the United States from more than 20,000 weapons to 3,000.

By 1990, these trends had reached the point where a comprehensive review of US strategy and forces was inevitable, and led the Bush Administration to develop the "Base Force" plan. This plan was developed in late 1989 and the spring of 1990 under the leadership of Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Colin Powell, and was announced on August 1, 1990. It reflected the Bush Administration's effort to define both the changes the US should make in its forces during the period from 1990-1997, and to establish a floor under the cuts the Congress would make in defense spending.

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