Understanding the Evolving U.S. Role in Pacific Rim Security

A Scenario-Based Analysis

by John Y. Schrader, James A. Winnefeld

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This analysis considered a range of possible conflict scenarios across the Asia-Pacific region to examine the role U.S. forces might be expected to play. The scenarios ranged from civil war to major regional conflict. Several alternative postures (basing structures and force levels) were considered based on 25% and 50% reductions in U.S. defense spending (from 1990 levels). The ability of U.S. forces to provide presence, to reduce the likelihood of conflict, and to provide warfighting capability was examined for each scenario and force posture. Policy alternatives, forward basing, increased prepositioning, and overseas homeporting were examined as alternatives to reduce the impact of force posture changes. Although the postulated reductions seemed extreme when the analysis began, the levels studied are now consistent with planned downsizing activities, and the policy issues raised in the study are particularly relevant for the mid-1990s.

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