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This research brief describes work documented in Lightning Over Water: Sharpening America's Light Forces for Rapid Reaction Missions (MR-1196-A/OSD).

Excerpt: As the world continues its post Cold War thaw, fears of major theater-level war have given way to a reality of increased numbers of smaller regional conflicts and crises. And as these conflicts and crises continue to grow in number and frequency, there is a growing need for a quickly deploying, rapid-reaction capability — in particular, U.S. Army light forces — to directly respond to, and intervene within, these situations. From the Gulf War through strife in the Balkans to subsequent challenges, one of the roles such light ground forces are being asked to play is that of defender against a much heavier enemy force until the heavier, more capable forces can arrive in theater; this raises the issue of how such light forces can be made both survivable and lethal enough in these missions.

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