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This report assesses the requirements of a deterrence strategy for application to potential regional adversaries. The authors argue that states content with their status quo (e.g., the former Soviet Union during the Cold War) should be relatively easy to deter, especially from seeking gain, because they are likely to be risk-averse decisionmakers. On the other hand, many regional adversaries, already dissatisfied with the status quo and anticipating further losses, can be hard to deter, though not impossible. Hence, the U.S. military problem of regional deterrence in this instance boils down to two factors: (1) how the United States can make its deterrent threats highly credible; and (2) what military capabilities are required for credible denial and punishment threats. Should an adversary be willing to take high risks, the authors suggest that the United States adopt a national military strategy based on the ability to deny the opponent's political/military objective, either by basing U.S. forces within the region in times of crisis or by convincing the adversary that they can be forward deployed rapidly if the need arises.

This report is part of the RAND monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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