Retrenchment from forward deployed forces supporting alliances is a bad idea. Alliances, including forward-stationing of U.S. forces abroad makes the United States safer, its allies more secure, and all participating more prosperous. Any weakening of the U.S. alliance architecture should demonstrate how it provides greater benefits than the existing system.
Critics of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds point to regular base budget activities funded under OCO and its use to skirt discretionary spending limits. However, blaming OCO for our defense budget blunders, or calling for its complete elimination, punishes those who need OCO’s benefits without effectively punishing those who’ve instigated its abuse.
The revived interest in great power politics comes with an important, if oft unstated, corollary: the problem of small wars is now of secondary importance. But the U.S. must be vigilant against focusing solely on a conventional, symmetric future conflict and would be wise to acknowledge the coexistence of multiple categories of dangerous actors.
A strategic overcorrection has put China at the center of virtually every U.S. national security conversation and consideration. That positioning is at once distracting the United States from appropriately responding to growing trans-regional geopolitical volatility while also failing to achieve outcomes in U.S. China policy.