As the Biden administration charts a new strategy for the Department of Defense, it will need to make difficult decisions on force structure and optimization, with real implications for readiness.
The Defense Department should start preparing now for an uncertain post-coronavirus budget environment. It should clearly identify the “crown jewel” capabilities it cannot sacrifice, start cutting end strength and lower priority force structure, and prepare for a robust debate over global security commitments and budget constraints.
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.