Striking the Balance: US Army Force Posture in Europe, 2028—A Study Sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of the Army

Authors: J.P. Clark and C. Anthony Pfaff

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Within the context of Europe, the US Army must develop a force posture that best navigates the tensions between deterring or defeating armed conflict at acceptable cost, successfully competing below armed conflict, and maintaining global responsiveness and institutional flexibility through the global operating model and dynamic force employment. While Russia’s economy, and consequently military capability will likely shrink over the next 10 years, which can make them more dangerous as the Kremlin continues to try to punch above its weight. The ideal force posture needs to accomplish a range of on-going and contingency missions and also be adaptive enough to remain viable despite any number of potential swings in resources, military balance, or the domestic politics of allies. This study recommends five possible strategic approaches and specifies what conditions and priorities optimize each.

The principal investigators recommend invest in a multidomain alliance. This strategic approach enables the joint force and multinational partners to get the most of their capabilities and makes best use of the Army’s top modernization priorities, such as long-range fires in a way that alters the strategic balance of a theater to avert a potentially catastrophic, albeit low probability, scenario of armed conflict. More importantly, this strategic approach is far more stable in a crisis, as it does not place policymakers in having to rush this critical, escalatory capability into theater at a moment of high tension. Moreover, invest in a multidomain alliance has the flexibility to allow a later build-up of heavy forces if conditions still warrant.