Small Wars Journal

U.S. Ground Force Capabilities Through 2020

U.S. Ground Force Capabilities Through 2020 - A Report of the CSIS New Defense Approaches Project by Nathan Freier (primary author) and Daniel Bilko, Matthew Driscoll, Akhil Lyer, Walter Rugen, Terrence Smith, and Matthew Trollinger (contributing authors) and Maren Leed (project director).

As an era of greater austerity rushes in, policymakers face numerous difficult choices about how to prioritize shrinking resources. This study is an effort to inform those choices in the particular area of U.S. ground force capabilities, based on an examination of how well current plans align with potential future challenges ground forces might be called upon to address.

The study team employed a straightforward approach. First, the team surveyed the existing literature and solicited expert opinion to inform a characterization of the types of operations in which ground forces might engage over the next decade. Second, to amplify that understanding, the team explored in more detail the primary tasks those operations would involve. Finally, the team assessed, at a very high level, the current and planned capabilities that future leaders might be able to call upon to conduct those missions. The results indicate that future investments in two areas—stability operations and security force assistance—may exceed what will be needed. Capabilities in three other areas—strategic responsiveness, armored maneuver, and forcible entry—are particularly important, and either are or may become areas where, should they be cut back too far, U.S. options to meet key threats would be severely constrained.