Since the summer of 1979 there has been an accelerating effort in the United States to increase capabilities for non-NATO contingencies in the Middle East, particularly in Southwest Asia, the area surrounding the Persian Gulf. The newly created Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) and related programming and diplomatic initiatives have been central elements in this effort. This paper reviews origins of the RDJTF, progress in its development, and possible problems on the horizon. The paper's emphasis is on the remarkable political and managerial events that made the RDJTF and related initiatives feasible. Although the RDJTF's capabilities are still limited, they are much better than in 1979 and improving rapidly. Nonetheless, the problems we face in Southwest Asia are severe and will remain so.
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