April 28, 2015

The Pentagon's Third Offset Strategy: What US Allies and Partners Need to Know

By Van Jackson

When the Department of Defense (DoD) undergoes strategic change, allies and partners would benefit greatly from not only paying attention, but reading between the lines and playing a constructive shaping role. Even small changes in how DoD does business in Asia can lead to big implications for the strategies and defense investments of allies and partners.

Since 2014, the Pentagon’s most senior officials—former Secretary Chuck Hagel, Deputy Secretary Bob Work, and now Secretary Ash Carter—have delivered numerous speeches expounding on what they describe as a “third offset strategy.” Although many seem interested, there is remarkably little public discourse or debate among Asian allies and partners about the third offset.

I can think of three plausible reasons for the lack of such discussion among Asian allies and partners (including their citizens): they are wholly reassured by DoD’s efforts to regain military-technical superiority; they don’t see changes in U.S. weapons investments, doctrine, or force posture as having an impact on them; or ignorance—they don’t know what the Pentagon is talking about once the hyphenated word “military-technical” is introduced and subsequently don’t know what questions to ask or what issues to debate. The former two explanations, that they’re confidently assured and that they think it’s irrelevant, seem far less likely than the latter.

Read the full op-ed at The Diplomat.

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