Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2014

The Future of American Landpower: Does Forward Presence Still Matter? The Case of the Army in the Pacific

John R. Deni

May 2014

The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College


The time has come for a reappraisal of the U.S. Army’s forward presence in East Asia, given the evolving strategic context and the extraordinarily high, recurring costs of deploying U.S. Army forces from the 50 states for increasingly important security cooperation activities across the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater. Without unduly harming America's commitment to deterrence on the Korean peninsula, a reconfigured Army forward presence could help to achieve U.S. objectives throughout the theater more effectively through more regular, longer-duration engagement with critical allies and partners, while reducing the recurring transportation costs associated with today’s practice of sending U.S.-based units to conduct most exercises and training events across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Certainly, there are some major challenges involved in reconfiguring the Army's forward presence, but these are not insurmountable. Furthermore, to avoid trying would severely limit the effectiveness and the efficiency of the Army’s contribution to broader U.S. national security goals.