Key point: American overextension, both domestically and abroad, has temporarily weakened the United States, and the “third offset” alone cannot mend it.
U.S. defense planners hope that the Pentagon’s “Third Offset” will deter nations like China and Russia from risking war with the United States by expanding our narrowing technological lead. Superficially, the United States’ pursuit of a decisive technological advantage sends a signal to the world: America will remain ready to deter aggression abroad, now and in the future. Unfortunately, the weakness of the U.S. fiscal situation, loss of national manufacturing capacity and vulnerable global supply chains make this advantage hard to achieve and difficult to maintain during a conflict. Even worse, China and Russia may see the United States’ pursuit of a decisive technological advantage and acquisition of smaller numbers of expensive weapon systems as evidence of U.S. willingness and ability to fight a short, clean war—but not a long one.
A Different Kind of War Than Desert Storm
Many defense professionals cite Desert Storm as an example of a victory won by technology, but technological superiority had less to do with victory than the weakness of the Iraqi military. When coalition forces crossed into Iraq in 1991, they invaded a country with a GDP of $50 billion (2016 dollars), an economy roughly the size of Montana. The Iraqi paper tiger fielded a poorly trained and unmotivated army, outclassed in every aspect by the U.S.-led coalition.