Offset Strategy Puts Advantage in Hands of U
Offset Strategy Puts
Advantage in Hands of U.S., Allies
By Claudette Roulo, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – January 28, 2015 – In the face of one of the most volatile security
environments the United States has faced in decades, the Defense Department's
Defense Innovation Initiative seeks to halt the erosion of the nation's military
technological superiority, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said today.
The initiative, in concert with a new offset strategy, will
put "the competitive advantage firmly in the hands of allied capabilities and
American power projection over the coming decades," Work said in remarks
prepared for delivery at a forum hosted by the Center for New American Security.
Past Offset Strategies
Offset strategies were first developed during the Cold War
and were aimed at overcoming the Soviet Union's numerical superiority and
geographic advantages, the deputy secretary said.
Eisenhower's "New Look" was the first such strategy, relying
on nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the Warsaw Pact nations. The strategy
enabled Eisenhower to cut manpower and reduce defense spending, Work said, but
eventually the Soviets responded and a second offset strategy had to be
Soviet modernization of their nuclear and conventional forces
and the approach of nuclear parity led the United States to look outside the
nuclear arsenal for deterrents, the deputy secretary said.
Following recommendations from the Long Range Research and
Development Planning Program, he said, DoD developed the "Assault Breaker"
program, which integrated conventional long-range weapons systems with early
warning and surveillance platforms. Together, these systems were intended to
break up the multi-wave armor attacks that were the hallmark of Warsaw Pact
tactics of the era.
Assault Breaker opened the door to a wave of advances in
precision-guided munitions, and, Work said, led to new concepts of operation for
the Army and Air Force, and were incorporated into NATO doctrine as the Follow-on
Forces Attack concept.
This second offset strategy "proved far more enduring than
the first, providing the U.S. military with a decisive operational advantage
that has lasted for nearly four decades," the deputy secretary said.
But that advantage has eroded, Work noted.
"To reverse this erosion and to ensure that our conventional
deterrence remains robust, DoD is embarking on a third offset strategy that will
put the competitive advantage firmly in the hands of American global power
projection over the coming decades," he said.
A number of "largely unanticipated geopolitical surprises"
disrupted the Defense Department's fiscal year 2016 budget deliberations, he
In February, Russia's occupation and annexation of Crimea
shocked the world and "may herald a prolonged period of heightened tension with
Russia," Work said.
The United States commitment to its NATO allies is unwavering
in the face of Russia's activities, the deputy secretary said.
"We are working to improve NATO’s ability to deploy faster in
times of crisis, including enhancing NATO’s Rapid Response Force, and improving
infrastructure and facilities to receive rapid reinforcements," he said.
The U.S. military continues "to help build partner capacity,
particularly in our NATO allies in the Baltics,” Work said. “I can announce that
the department’s FY 2016 budget request provides for close to $800 million to
continue these activities, and expand them, under the European Reassurance
In June, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists
launched a fast-moving offensive out of Syria into Iraq, effectively erasing the
border between the two nations, he said.
"The threat to our people and our interests, and an
opportunity to partner with a new, more inclusive Iraqi government compelled the
United States and our allies and partners to forge a counter-ISIL coalition and
use force in Iraq to confront a growing threat," the deputy secretary said.
And, the Ebola outbreak came to international attention in
August, Work said, threatening to infect up to 1.4 million people in West Africa.
President Barack Obama spearheaded an international effort to confront the
threat, Work said, which now appears to be on the way to being contained.
Defense Strategy Unchanged
These surprises did not lead to a departure from the current
strategy, he said.
"In point of fact, it’s completely in line with the [Quadrennial
Defense Review's] emphasis on innovation," the deputy secretary said. "It is
about developing the means to offset advances in anti-access, area-denial
networks that pose a growing challenge to our military power.
"The execution of a successful defense strategy ultimately is
about balancing ends, ways, and means,” Work continued. “The new offset strategy
is primarily about changing our ways and means --- the platforms, systems, and
operational concepts we use to achieve our objectives."
During the Cold War, there was a monolithic enemy, Work said,
but today the nation faces multiple potential military competitors -- including
Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. As a result, it doesn't make sense to
develop a one-size-fits-all offset strategy, he said.
And until recently, governments were behind the development
of leading-edge military technologies, the deputy secretary said. Now, many
technologies that might be associated with a new offset strategy are being
driven by the commercial sector, Work said.
"The explosion of research and development in the non-defense
sector means DoD must devise new means of pulling in commercial technology," he
"As it has in the past, technological innovation can serve as
a catalyst to our third offset strategy, but there are no silver bullet
solutions," the deputy secretary said. "Rather, we look to exploit our
traditional advantages and develop new ways of operating that impose
strategy-constricting costs on our adversaries."
Innovation must be broad-based and rooted in realistic
wargaming, experimentation, and the development of new concepts and leadership,
The United States must provide its service members with a
competitive advantage, Work said, “so that they will never find themselves
evenly matched in a conflict -- that is the essence of deterrence and what will
ultimately safeguard all of our interests.”
Challenges to power projection affect not just the United
States, the deputy secretary said. NATO's interests are worldwide, he added, and
America's allies must be more closely integrated into the effort to address
challenges in the international security environment.
"While the Defense Innovation Initiative and a third offset
strategy is a U.S. initiative, it will also require a deliberate, aggressive
effort on the part of our allies," Work said.
Innovation must be pursued with interoperability in mind, he
said. Not all of the nation's allies have the same access to technology and
operational art, and one way to address that is to think about the potential
advantages of specialization, the deputy secretary said.
"Beyond that, many or all allies have forces capable of
absorbing innovative doctrine and training that are needed to eventually join in
even the most sophisticated operating environments," Work said. "We will do all
we can to encourage and enable all allies to innovate together, in concert. But
we will also collaborate to seek niche roles and nation-specific contributions
that befit some allies’ unique will and ability."
A growing resource gap is closely related to concerns within
NATO of the technology gap, he said.
"All of us together need to decide this innovation effort is
a priority, that this is a deliberate effort, and that we can’t float along with
the current," the deputy secretary said. To secure the international environment,
he said, it is imperative allied leaders fulfill the pledge made at the Wales
Summit to devote 2 percent of their national outputs to defense.
"We must not shy away from, but rather embrace, the potential
criticism that will come from those who fear change," Work said. "We will surely
regret it if, in the future, we look back and say we didn’t go far enough. I
encourage all of our allies to join with us, be bold and push the boundaries of
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)
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