February 19, 2024

Does the US Army’s future lie in Europe or Asia?

Source: The Economist

What remains unsettled, says Billy Fabian, a former infantry officer and Pentagon planner, is how, precisely, the army’s combat forces should be organised for future wars: the balance between firepower on the one hand, dominant in Ukraine, and so-called manoeuvre elements, such as infantry and armour, on the other. “Fighting land wars is the army’s raison d’être,” he says, “and Ukraine raises tough questions that challenge deeply ingrained elements core to the army’s self-conception.”

Hanging over these reforms is the larger question of where the army will be asked to fight. National defence strategies published by the Trump and Biden administrations instruct the Pentagon to focus on China. In fact, the army grew its footprint in Europe after Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014. It has since reinforced the continent with a corps and division headquarters, an infantry and armour brigade, a rocket artillery battalion and numerous other support forces. In contrast, relatively few new forces have flowed into Asia.

For many years, the us Army’s principal role in the Pacific was to guard bases, provide air defence and handle logistics. To the extent it was a “manoeuvre” force, in military parlance, it was focused on North Korea. Other services have looked down their noses at it. “The navy has a stranglehold on the leadership of Indo-Pacific Command,” says Stacie Pettyjohn of the Centre for a New American Security, a think-tank in Washington. “They see the army only in a supporting role in a maritime theatre.”

Read the full story and more from The Economist.


  • Stacie Pettyjohn

    Senior Fellow and Director, Defense Program

    Stacie Pettyjohn is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Her areas of expertise include defense strategy, post...

  • Billy Fabian

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Defense Program, Senior Analyst, Govini

    Billy Fabian is an Adjunct Senior Fellow in the Defense Program at the Center for New American Security. He is also a Senior Analyst at Govini, a national security focused dat...