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How to Win America’s Next War

In the face of growing threats from China and Russia, the US can no longer take its military superiority for granted according to Elbridge Colby, the Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. In fact, Colby believes that if the US military doesn’t undergo a “dramatic change” as soon as possible, it may soon fail to protect America’s interests against offensive moves by China or Russia.

Last year, the US Defense Department identified great-power competition as the main strategic threat to the US. While Colby believes this signifies an important shift from the previous focus on terrorism, the US military will need to make fundamental changes in order to prevent the US from providing China and Russia with an opportunity to “unravel US alliances and shift in their favor the balances of power in Europe and Asia.”

Colby argues that the most troublesome scenario here is one in which China or Russia launches a swift, powerful campaign against a US ally to capture territory before the US has time to react and subsequently ensures “that the counterattack needed to eject it would be so risky, costly, and aggressive that the United States would balk at mounting it.” A Chinese campaign of this kind in the Western Pacific could allow it to control “the world’s largest and most economically dynamic region,” while Russian action in Europe “could fracture NATO and open Eastern Europe to Russian dominance.”

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