Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Building for War The Case For A Mixed Strategy In The Asia Pacific
Authors: El-Fakir, Alex
Advisors: Friedberg, Aaron
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: The current debate over U.S. military strategy in the Asia Pacific asks policymakers to choose how to fight China in an eventual conflict. Two strategies have come to define the debate: Air Sea Battle and Offshore Control. There is, however, no quantifiable way to decide which is better. Consequently, with no method of evaluation, and as other issues have come to the fore in international security, the debate over U.S. military strategy in the Asia Pacific has stagnated. Instead of continuing to look at the debate over military strategy in the Asia Pacific as purely a problem of high-level strategic concepts, such as deterrence, reassurance, and long-term competition, this paper proposes that the problem be looked at in another way. Specifically, the paper focuses on the motivation behind the military strategy debate, linking strategic thinking to budgets and the militaries they produce. Given the significant amount of time it takes to develop and field new weapons systems, it is important that policymakers decide today what capabilities they want in future decades. These capabilities are determined by the military strategy that they choose. Thus, when policymakers are choosing a military strategy, they are actually choosing how they want the military to be sized and shaped over the next few decades. In other words, they are determining the military’s long-term force structure. Using a novel strategy, this paper estimates future force structure scenarios over the next thirty years as a proxy for evaluating which military strategy against China the United States should adopt. To do this, the paper first estimates the force structure outcomes of current force sizing plans. Then, it presents alternative force structure scenarios under three alternative military strategies. The first two, (1) Air Sea Battle, (2) Offshore Control, represent the two mainstream military strategies against China. The third, (3) a Mixed Strategy, represents a scenario in which U.S. policymakers either cannot come to a consensus and attempt to pursue both Air Sea Battle and Offshore Control or alternate between the two strategies over the next thirty years. In each of these scenarios, the estimated budget is held constant and equal to the estimated budget of The Current Plan. This is done to simulate the tradeoffs that policymakers must make when deciding how to spend resources, since defense budget dollars are scarce resources. Finally, the paper assesses the advantages, risks and constraints of each resulting force structure scenario. This assessment is conducted using the quantitative data calculated from the analysis. Then, it is adjusted to account for the effect that new warfighting concepts and future technologies may have on force structure decisions, if successfully developed and implemented. Lastly, the paper compares the relative importance of these advantages, disadvantages, and risks with respect to expectations about future trends, such as the probability of conflict with China, the direction of the U.S. defense budget, and the effectiveness of future technology. Through these analyses, the paper finds by deliberately pursuing a Mixed Strategy, in which the United States intentionally adopts both Air Sea Battle and Offshore Control or alternates between the two over time, policymakers will build a force structure that provides the greatest geostrategic assurance to the region with the lowest amount of risk. In addition, the Mixed Strategy could also allow the United States to get ahead of the long-term competition curve and hedge against unforeseen changes in the future. The paper recommends that U.S. policymakers deliberately build U.S. force structure in the Asia Pacific, using the Mixed Strategy as a guideline, and concludes with four additional recommendations that are designed to keep U.S. force sizing goals up-to-date and on track as the context of U.S. military strategy in the Asia Pacific evolves over time.
Extent: 126 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

Files in This Item:
File SizeFormat 
PUTheses2015-El-Fakir_Alex.pdf1.13 MBAdobe PDF    Request a copy

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.