Today's security environment is characterized both by a range of regional security threats and by a persistent global insurgency and counterinsurgency. The ability of US forces to provide swift and tailored responses to a multitude of threats across the globe is a crucial component of security in today's complex political environment.
Transforming logistics to meet new and emerging military and geopolitical challenges is a major focus in today's military. Methods and approaches used during the Cold War have proven to be both cumbersome and ineffective in meeting the demands of the 21st century. The featured article examines one way to respond to the new challenges.
"Combat Support: Overseas Basing Options" presents research by RAND that provides an analytic framework for evaluating options for overseas combat support basing or forward support locations. The framework integrates the traditional threat-based assessments concept with capability-based planning. This framework relies on a sequenced, potentially simultaneous set of deployment scenarios, which RAND terms the multiperiod-multiscenario concept. This methodology is a major departure from the current war planning mindset.
The global geopolitical divide that once defined US military policy faded away as communist governments in Eastern Europe collapsed and the Soviet Union disintegrated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was replaced by a security environment characterized both by a range of regional security threats and by a persistent global insurgency and counterinsurgency. The ability of US forces to provide swift and tailored responses to a multitude of threats across the globe is a crucial component of security in today's complex political environment. The Air Force, as with the other services, has responded by transforming itself into a more expeditionary force. To realize its goals of global strike and persistent dominance, it is vital that the Air Force support the warfighter seamlessly and efficiently in all phases of deployment, employment, and redeployment. One of the major pillars for achieving these objectives is a global combat support basing architecture.
This article focuses on an analytic framework for evaluating options for overseas combat support basing or forward support locations (FSL). The presentation of this framework is important because it addresses how to assess these options in terms of the relevant programming costs while considering a novel approach to scenario planning. This formulation minimizes the costs of facility operation, construction, and transportation associated with meeting the training and deterrent exercises needed to demonstrate US global power projection capability to deter aggression, while maintaining the necessary storage capacity and system throughput to engage in major combat operations.
This framework is based on the notion that US interests are not only global but dynamic as well, particularly when the United States is confronted with emerging anti-access and area denial threats. Consequently, the Air Force must be ready to deploy forces quickly across a wide range of potential scenarios.
Development of a Multiperiod, Multiscenario Combat Support Planning Methodology
In recent years, the focus of contingency planners was on individual, deliberate, threat-based deployments. This led to supporting the warfighter by developing optimal combat support networks which were designed to counter known threats. An unfortunate characteristic of this type of designed network is that it often performs poorly if the set of demands, such as locations and quantities, differs from the plan. The new planning environment, with its broad and unclear set of potential adversaries, calls for robust and efficient combat support networks that meet operational requirements at reasonable costs over a wide range of contingencies.
The Air Force's new role in this environment will inevitably include a commitment to multiple, overlapping engagements in diverse geographical areas with varying degrees of operational intensity. Some of these engagements, such as drug interdictions, will occur multiple times over a short time horizon. To capture the nuances of the multifaceted, continuous deterrent environment, temporal and spatial elements with other parameters, such as combat support capability and costs must be integrated. These parameters are captured in a new planning methodology in which several likely deployment scenarios, from small-scale humanitarian operations to major regional conflicts, are considered. For any given scenario, decisions should be made regarding its likelihood of occurrence over time, its interrelationship with other scenarios, and its finality.
RAND has developed a new framework that integrates the traditional threat-based assessments concept with capability-based planning. This framework relies on a sequenced, potentially simultaneous set of deployment scenarios, which was given the term multiperiod-multiscenario (MPMS) concept. This methodology is a major departure from the current war planning mindset. Previously, whether planning for nuclear warfare against the Soviet Union or lot large-scale conventional war in the Near East, US analysts were planning for one large conflict that would occur only once and that would change the defense environment so greatly that plans for outyears following this conflict would no longer be valid.
The Geopolitical Environment
One of the United States' major defense policy goals is to deter threats and coercion against US interests anywhere in the world. This multifaceted approach requires forces and capabilities that discourage aggression or any form of coercion by placing emphasis on peacetime forward deterrence in critical areas of the world. In addition, US forces must maintain the capability to support multiple conflicts if deterrence fails. (1) Air Force core competencies, such as agile combat support, global attack, and rapid global mobility, reflect these changes m the global threat environment. Global attack capability is defined as "the ability to engage adversary targets anywhere, [and] anytime." Rapid global mobility is defined as "the ability to rapidly position forces anywhere in the world." (2)
The Air Force can rapidly airlift forces anywhere in the world if those forces are sufficiently small, and if the airlift capacity is not consumed by other requirements elsewhere. However, the United States' strategic policy goals and the reality of today's security environment require a capability that can project a continuum of power both swiftly and globally. Doing so requires a combat support system that has both the agility and the adaptability to support a broad range of potential engagements anywhere in the world.
US Operations and Exercises Since 1990
It has been more than a decade since the end of the Cold War. and in that period US forces have been involved in numerous operations and conflicts. Although the United States does not respond to every crisis in the world, the regions of the world in which it has conducted operations reflect the strategic interests of the United States and its allies. Many of the deployments have occurred in regions where the United States has either a permanent support infrastructure, such as Europe, or a longstanding presence, such as the Near East. However, a large number of …