Document Type

Lecture

Publication Date

9-22-2015

Streaming Media

Publisher

Brookings Mountain West

Abstract

In my new book, "The Future of Land Warfare" (Brookings Institution Press, 2015), I attempt to debunk the new conventional wisdom (which began with the Obama administration but also permeates thinking beyond): Messy ground operations can be relegated to the dustbin of history. That is a paraphrase and dramatization, to be sure—but only a modest one, since the administration’s 2012 and 2014 defense plans both state that the U.S. Army will no longer size its main combat forces with large-scale counterinsurgency and stabilization missions in mind.

This is, I believe, a major conceptual mistake, even if not yet one that has decimated the Army. But it will cause increasing harm with time if we buy into the idea. The active-duty Army is already below its Clinton-era size and only slightly more than half its Reagan-era size. Reductions to the Army Reserve and Army National Guard have been almost as steep. None need grow at this juncture, but the cuts should stop.

Keywords

Military; U.S. Army; Defense Plans

Disciplines

Military, War, and Peace

Language

English

Comments

Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow and co-director with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and director of research for the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force and American foreign policy. He is a visiting lecturer at Princeton University, an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

This public lecture was delivered on September 22, 2015, in Greenspun Hall, on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).


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