(Source: Warontherocks.com – Tom Greenwood and Owen Danielsmay) – The Pentagon should train For – And Not Just Talk About – Great-Power Competition

The Pentagon has committed to competing with China and Russia — but it’s not training that way. If the United States is to be truly prepared for great-power competition, its forces need to train as they expect to operate in theater. The U.S. Cold War experience offers valuable lessons, positive and negative, about how best to equip the joint force to handle near-peer adversaries. Relearning the mechanics of great-power competition will require changing exercises and experimentation, and the Pentagon should emphasize joint exercises to draw on the collective capabilities of its services.

Focusing on joint exercises conjures a “back-to-the-future” feeling. For decades during the Cold War, major overseas training exercises featured prominently in the U.S. military’s playbook, and with good reason. Big exercises — training thousands of troops across services, domains, and sometimes nations — enhance joint force readiness by improving interoperability and building command, control, and communications among services and coalition members; demonstrate the value of relationships with allies and partners; and send a range of messages to adversaries.

To update the joint force for the challenge of China and Russia, the United States should build on these Cold War lessons by ensuring that its large-scale joint exercises also test U.S. forces’ ability to operate in multiple domains against “gray-zone” threats. (…)

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Photo © U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet, LPhot Dan Rosenbaum, HMS Kent, Royal Navy, as published in ibid