Military Engagement and Forward Presence: Down But Not Out as Tools to Shape and Win

Military Engagement and Forward Presence: Down But Not Out as Tools to Shape and Win
Military Engagement and Forward Presence: Down But Not Out as Tools to Shape and Win
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Military engagement and forward-based U.S. military forces offer decision-makers effective and efficient mechanisms for maintaining American influence, deterring aggression, assuring allies, building tomorrow’s coalitions, managing the challenge of disorder in the security environment, mitigating the risk of a major interstate war, and facilitating U.S. and coalition operations should deterrence fail.  Unfortunately, significant cuts to overseas permanent presence and continuing pockets of institutional bias against engagement as a force multiplier and readiness enhancer have combined to limit the leverage possible through these two policy tools.  Instead, reliance on precision strike stand-off capabilities, and a strategy of surging American military might from CONUS (Continental United States) after a crisis have already started to become particularly attractive approaches for managing insecurity in a more resource-constrained environment.  This approach is short-sighted politically and strategically.  Relying on stand-off capabilities and so-called “surge readiness” – instead of placing greater emphasis on forward presence and, when employed selectively, military engagement – will ultimately result in reduced American influence with friends and adversaries alike, encourage adversaries to act hastily and aggressively, and have the effect of reducing, not expanding, options available to any President.


The author’s analysis and argumentation should prove particularly relevant to defense strategists, planners, and force structure analysts as they contemplate how best to shape and employ the U.S. military in protecting and promoting American interests.  Additionally, this text should benefit those seeking a better understanding of how political leaders can more effectively wield two often underappreciated policy tools: forward presence and military engagement.  Military, international relations, political science, and organizational behavior students may find this work beneficial as it deals with national security and defense deployment issues.

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Defense Dept., Army, U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute
  • Deni, John R.
Key Phrases:
  • Down But Not Out as Tools to Shape and Win
  • National security, International cooperation
  • United States, Military policy, 21st century
  • United States, Armed Forces, Foreign countries
  • United States, Military relations
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