The U.S. military establishment is at a historic turning point. It can continue with the same strategy that has dominated its thinking, training and procurement for the past 32 years. That is a concept of prepared defenses and predeployed forces in Europe and in Korea, along with forward-deployed naval forces, on the assumption that being ready for those requirements will automatically be adequate for whatever other contingencies may arise.
Alternatively, it can recognize that the world has changed since the late 1940s, and take those changes into account by revising its strategy through placing more emphasis on the flexibility needed to move forces to wherever the United States may require them. Such a strategy would call for greater stress on our capabilities to use the seas and be prepared for unexpected military contingencies, rather than just for the clearly defined problems of defending Europe and Korea.
The Reagan Administration has declared that it wants naval superiority and that it wants to accelerate the Rapid Deployment Force that has been building for more than two years. It has directed an abrupt shift in defense resources to these ends. The Navy will, for instance, take the largest share of the next defense budget if the Congress agrees.
Still, one does not get the feeling that a serious debate is taking place or that an express decision to reorient our military strategy has been made. Instead, we see clear indicators of strong resistance to any shift in strategy: from those elements of the military that would have to change most and their supporters in Congress; from defense contractors who build the equipment we have been using for years and whose interests might be adversely affected; and from traditional Atlanticists who abjure any tampering with our long-established security relationship with Europe.
Foreign Affairs has just published a strong argument against change by Ambassador Robert Komer that typifies the resistance of Atlanticists.1 Mr. Komer argues for a "coalition" strategy which places primary reliance on working
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