The Future of Power Projection

SLD’s New Monthly Column

Dr. Robbin Laird

Dr. Robbin Laird

Starting this month, “Second Line of Defense” will start a monthly column on the future of power projection.  Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake will anchor the column, which include occasional analytical pieces by our regular contributors as well as guest pieces on specific aspects shaping the future of power projection.

For our first piece on the future of power projection we are honored to have recently retired General Corley, one of the most prominent of analysts of air power today assess the challenges facing the future of the US Air Force and its many contributions to national security policy.








Hon. Ed Timperlake

Hon. Ed Timperlake

Re-Shaping XXIth Century US And Allied Power Projection Capabilities
The column will address the challenges and opportunities for re-shaping US and allied power projection capabilities in the decades ahead.  The US and its allies provide the bedrock for providing for the security of the global commons and in shaping an effective global security enterprise.  In the face of financial pressures and declining platform numbers, greater capability to coalesce US and allied efforts in terms of forces, technologies and con-ops will be of increasing importance in shaping future power projection capabilities.

The challenges facing the ability to project power is going up not down. Adversaries and competitors are drawing upon new technologies and new capabilities to complicate the ability of the US and its allies to shape an effective and stable global order.  The competition between US and allied efforts to shape effective power tools, on the one hand, and adversaries and competitor’s willingness and ability to undercut such power tools, on the other hand, will be a key dynamic for the decades ahead.

A Building Block Approach
The approach of the column is to focus upon the key aspects which are re-shaping the context and character of power projection forces in the years ahead.   We are taking a building block approach, which allows us to identify and analyze the discrete aspects shaping the evolution of power projection capabilities in the years ahead. And again, our perspective is to look at forces which degrade as well enhance such capabilities.

Among the key dynamics to be discussed will include:

  • Force Structure
    What are the challenges facing the viability of US and allied power projection forces in the years ahead?  In light of force structure draw downs, funding challenges, what are effective ways to build capabilities? In light of growing competitor capabilities and technological developments, how might the US and its allies build more effective countering systems and capabilities?
  • Technological Enhancements
    How might force structure and concepts of operations be re-shaped as new capabilities are brought on line, such as remotely piloted aircraft, new naval assets, and the emergence of 5th generation aircraft?
  • Technological and Competitor Capabilities
    How will the evolution of competitor force structures and technologies re-shape the challenge for US and allied projection?  The introduction of new technologies cuts both ways as competitors draw upon technologies and new con-ops to shape enhanced capabilities, both for their own power projection and denial capabilities. What specific force structure or technological applications might be game changers?
  • Information warfare
    Identified in the nineties as a component of The Revolution in Military Affairs, Information warfare has now rapidly evolved with enhanced 21st Century technology into the potential for full spectrum “cyber war” that can be directed against both military and civilian targets. This is a totally new and not fully understood nor developed capability, that should be incorporated in all discussions of global power projection technology trends.
  • Re-shaping Con-ops
    How might the US enhance its joint capabilities to get more effective capabilities and efficiencies from its forces?  How might the US and its allies enhance their capabilities to work together?  How might a more collaborative technological system be crafted to enhance joint and coalition capabilities?

These questions are simply indicative of our approach and our focus.  But the bottom line is simple: the fate of US and allied power projection is fundamental to the peace and security of the democracies.  If such capabilities are not enhanced or maintained in a fluid and competitive globally competitive environment, the future will be remade to our strategic disadvantage.

———

*** Posted On Spetember 13th, 2010

Starting this month Second Line of Defense will start a monthly column on the future of power projection. Dr. Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake will anchor the column, which include occasional analytical pieces by our regular contributors as well as guest pieces on specific aspects shaping the future of power projection.

The column will address the challenges and opportunities for re-shaping US and allied power projection capabilities in the decades ahead. The US and its allies provide the bedrock for providing for the security of the global commons and in shaping an effective global security enterprise. In the face of financial pressures and declining platform numbers, greater capability to coalesce US and allied efforts in terms of forces, technologies and con-ops will be of increasing importance in shaping future power projection capabilities.

The challenges facing the ability to project power is going up not down. Adversaries and competitors are drawing upon new technologies and new capabilities to complicate the ability of the US and its allies to shape an effective and stable global order. The competition between US and allied efforts to shape effective power tools, on the one hand, and adversaries and competitor’s willingness and ability to undercut such power tools, on the other hand, will be a key dynamic for the decades ahead.

The approach of the column is to focus upon the key aspects which are re-shaping the context and character of power projection forces in the years ahead. We are taking a building block approach, which allows us to identify and analyze the discrete aspects shaping the evolution of power projection capabilities in the years ahead. And again, our perspective is to look at forces which degrade as well enhance such capabilities.

Among the key dynamics to be discussed will include:

· Force Structure: What are the challenges facing the viability of US and allied power projection forces in the years ahead? In light of force structure draw downs, funding challenges, what are effective ways to build capabilities? In light of growing competitor capabilities and technological developments, how might the US and its allies build more effective countering systems and capabilities?

· Technological Enhancements: How might force structure and concepts of operations be re-shaped as new capabilities are brought on line, such as remotely piloted aircraft, new naval assets, and the emergence of 5th generation aircraft?

· Technological and Competitor Capabilities: How will the evolution of competitor force structures and technologies re-shape the challenge for US and allied projection? The introduction of new technologies cuts both ways as competitors draw upon technologies and new con-ops to shape enhanced capabilities, both for their own power projection and denial capabilities. What specific force structure or technological applications might be game changers?

· Information warfare was identified in the nineties as a component of The Revolution in Military Affairs but has now rapidly evolved with enhanced 21st Century technology into the potential for full spectrum “cyber war” that can be directed against both military and civilian targets. This is a totally new and not fully understood nor developed capability that should be incorporated in all discussions of global power projection technology trends.

· Re-shaping Con-ops: How might the US enhance its joint capabilities to get more effective capabilities and efficiencies from its forces? How might the US and its allies enhance their capabilities to work together? How might a more collaborative technological system be crafted to enhance joint and coalition capabilities?

These questions are simply indicative of our approach and our focus. But the bottom line is simple: the fate of US and allied power projection is fundamental to the peace and security of the democracies. If such capabilities are not enhanced or maintained in a fluid and competitive globally competitive environment, the future will be remade to our strategic disadvantage.

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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