the Ability to Deploy Adequate Combat Power on a Timely Basis to Defend U.S.
Interests Wherever They Are Threatened
Maintaining Strategic Nuclear Forces Adequate to Deter a Nuclear Attack on the U.S. or Its Key Allies
Maintaining a Network of Military Alliances with Friendly, Like-Minded Nations
This report identifies a considerable number of U.S. interests. Many are vulnerable to military aggression or coercion of the type that could require the threat or use of military force in response.
For example, ensuring a reliable flow of oil from the Persian Gulf enjoys a broad consensus in the U.S. as an interest that must be defended with military force if necessary. Overt aggression against or threats to friendly oil-producing nations could occur with relatively little warning, as was the case in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1991. A key element in deterring such threats and aggression is the capability of the U.S. to respond with adequate force to repel an aggressor. This requires that the U.S. military maintain the combat, support, and transport capabilities to deploy quickly and effectively a large force far from U.S. territory. This requirement was the key focus of the Bottom-up Review.
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During the Cold War, a key component of national security strategy was the maintenance of adequate strategic nuclear forces to deter the Soviet Union from a nuclear attack on the U.S. The conclusion of the START II treaty and greatly improved relations with Moscow have made the threat of a massive nuclear attack on the U.S. less likely than at any time in decades. Nevertheless, thousands of nuclear weapons are still deployed on the soil of the former Soviet Union, and even after the START II treaty is implemented, Russia can retain some 3,000 deliverable strategic nuclear warheads. Since the consequences of a massive nuclear attack on the homeland are so severe, the U.S. must never be without adequate deterrence against such an attack.
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While the traditional role of U.S. post-war alliances--to provide a check on Soviet military power--is no longer critical, they still serve important military and diplomatic ends. U.S. interests span the globe, but Washington cannot bear the sole responsibility for responding militarily to threats to those interests that are held in common with the other market democracies. Not only is operating in a coalition often a political imperative, but the number of instances requiring military action is increasing, and U.S. forces are being stretched thin.
It is impossible to predict in advance which nations will be willing to join a coalition to participate in a specific operation. Nevertheless, by maintaining alliances with like-minded nations that include an element of military cooperation, the U.S. will remain familiar with the military operations of a number of potential coalition partners. This will facilitate coalition operations if and when deployment of a combined force takes place.
U.S. alliance networks with European and Pacific nations provide a powerful hedge against the re-emergence of a regional aggressor. They also provide a forum for the alliance members to discuss security issues openly, to help prevent the emergence of disputes or to resolve those that do arise.
The presence of U.S. forces with substantial military capability makes U.S. security commitments in Europe and in Northeast Asia credible. The periodic presence of U.S. naval forces in other regions, such as the Persian Gulf, also promotes U.S. influence. Would-be aggressors in regions where the U.S. maintains a presence must factor a potential U.S. military response into their calculations.