There is a perennial debate about force sizing that will likely influence the Biden administration’s global posture review. The debate is often referred to in professional literature as the choice between presence and warfighting. Presence in this case means having sufficient forces to deploy forward in hot spots and thereby deter aggression. Warfighting, on the other hand, means having the ability to fight and win a major conflict if one breaks out. There are at least two paradoxes involved here. One is that you need more forces to prevent wars to than to fight one, because you must be present in all the places where aggression might occur. The other paradox is that if your force is sized only to fight and win a war, you are more likely to end up using it that way because you weren’t deployed in all the places you needed to be to prevent the war from occurring. The implication is that sizing the force to the less demanding metric is penny wise and pound foolish, because once you are in a war, the costs can be astronomical. I have written a commentary on how this debate applies to sizing the U.S. Navy for Forbes, and you can read it here.
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