The Shifting Priorities in U.S. Defense Posture

I have always been intrigued by the global force posture of the United States. Our nation has an extensive network of overseas military installations, a global naval presence, and a system of alliances and agreements that facilitate military interventions around the globe. Through all recorded history, no empire or country has every maintained a global military presence comparable to that of the modern United States. Through my preliminary investigation, I have already begun to understand how the U.S. global force posture developed into its current state. By the end of my research, I will have a greater understanding of the government’s vision for its future, and how that new vision is already being implemented.

Our global force posture arose out of World War II: the conclusion of the war left the U.S. with an expansive military force which controlled substantial amounts of territory. With the growing threat of communism and the creation of the USSR in Eastern Europe, the overseas force posture of the United States began to evolve, quickly becoming an integral part of U.S. Cold War strategy. The conflicts in Korea and Vietnam further illustrated to U.S. leaders the necessity of extensive overseas bases and pre-positioned forces.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century, the United States began to reconsider the purpose and necessity of the overseas basing system. Furthermore, new technological innovations, including the World Wide Web and the personal computer, led U.S. officials to consider the dangers potentially posed by warfare in cyberspace. As a result of these considerations, the United States government outlined significant changes in U.S. strategic priorities for the 21st century. These changes have already begun to impact the structure of the U.S. military and the global force posture of the United States.

Through my research, I will examine which of the government’s declared priorities have received the most attention, funding, and action on the part of the United States government. In order to determine these relative priorities, I will examine the reviews put out by the Department of Defense, the actions taken by Congress, and the changes in U.S. force posture which have taken place over the past decade. The results of my research will reveal the true priorities of Washington, knowledge of which is crucial to understanding the future of our nation’s security.

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About Jeff Ostrich

I am a Politics Major, Medieval & Byzantine Studies Minor at The Catholic University of America, and I will graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in May 2012. My research topic for the CSPC Presidential Fellows Program is "The Shifting Priorities in U.S. Defense Posture."
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