The Post-Cold War Force-Sizing Debate

Paradigms, Metaphors, and Disconnects

by James A. Winnefeld


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This report contains four "essays" on strategy and force structure. While related and presented in a natural sequence, each essay can be read as a freestanding commentary on the post-Cold War force-sizing debate between the Bush administration and the Congress. The report outlines the debate, offers different perspectives for restructuring it, and sets out recommendations for defining force requirements. The role of certitude vs. uncertainty in force sizing is discussed. It pays particular attention to the "tyranny of plausible scenarios" and the delays inherent in rebuilding forces if the United States misjudges its security needs. The report is just as relevant for the Clinton administration as it was for the Bush administration, since Secretary of Defense Aspin continues as one of the protagonists in the debate that is described.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

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