Many of us served in the era in which the “two war” doctrine governed U.S. military strategic planning. That doctrine contemplated the fighting of two concurrent wars against lesser powers such as North Korea and Iraq or Iran. Less often discussed was the prospect of war with major world powers, particularly those countries with significant power projection capabilities.
However, such scenarios are considered when the U.S. military develops warplans. Famously, “War Plan Orange” was our pre-WWII plan for a possible war with Japan. National Interest suggests that some aspects of WWIII would resemble the last world war:
As was the case in World War II, the U.S. Army would bear the brunt of defending Europe, while the Navy would concentrate on the Pacific. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) would play a supporting role in both theaters.
During WWII, America’s “Europe first” strategy meant that resources and personnel would initially be allocated more heavily toward the European theater in order to knock Germany out of the war, after which resources would be shifted to the fight against Japan. National Interest suggests that a different approach might be used by the U.S. in coordination with its allies in the next war:
The U.S. military would be under strong pressure to deliver decisive victory in at least one theater as quickly as possible. This might push the United States to lean heavily in one direction with air, space and cyber assets, hoping to achieve a strategic and political victory that would allow the remainder of its weight to shift to the other theater. Given the strength of U.S. allies in Europe, the United States might initially focus on the conflict in the Pacific.
Every war has tragic costs, and a U.S.-Sino-Russian conflict would be particularly horrifying. Our continued hope is that our political leaders will ensure our troops get the training and materiel support they need to deter conflict when foreign actors can be deterred, and to win should the tragedy of another world war ever materialized — no matter who or how many the enemies might be.
For further information, read more at nationalinterest.org.
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