This informative report from March 2019 has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Within the Department of Defense, offset strategies are policies of competition that mandate efforts to maintain technological superiority to generate or sustain a strategic advantage over near-peer competitor adversaries. The current strategy, the Third Offset, was implemented in 2014 and directs the development and leveraging of emergent, capabilities-based technologies to defend against the modernized, near-peer competitor nations of Russia and China. This thesis used unclassified resources to summarize the reactiveness of the previous offset strategies, define military supremacy, identify challenges to the Third Offset Strategy, and provide evidence that the current strategy is devalued. It also identified a list of conditions which, if met, render the strategy obsolete, ultimately determining that the Third Offset is, indeed, obsolete in its current form; it is unable to provide a strategic advantage to the United States. Finally, the thesis offers recommendations to the Department of Defense to reinforce the Third Offset Strategy with a goal of restoring its efficacy.
This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
How can the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) determine if the Third Offset Strategy is obsolete? Within the DoD, offset strategies are policies of competition that mandate efforts to maintain technological superiority to generate or sustain a strategic advantage over near-peer competitor adversaries of the state. The DoD only implements a new offset strategy after competitive adversaries attain parity with U.S. capabilities, causing the DoD to lose its strategic advantage. While the United States is transitioning between offset strategies, the country is potentially vulnerable to adversary actions and the DoD holds no strategic advantage. As their names suggest, the First Offset Strategy and the Second Offset Strategy preceded the current strategy, the Third Offset Strategy. The First Offset was implemented to counter the Soviet Union's sizeable advantages with nuclear weapons superiority in the early 1950s. In response, the Soviet Union reinvigorated its own nuclear weapons program, ultimately surpassing U.S. nuclear capabilities. To offset this, and to regain the strategic advantage, the DoD implemented the Second Offset in the 1970s, which developed superior technology in standoff weapons, precise targeting weaponry, and stealth capabilities to overcome and deter Communist nuclear superiority. While the United States was decisively engaged in its global war on terrorism, Russia and China invested heavily in modernizing their military capabilities to the point of parity with U.S. capabilities. In response, the DoD published the Third Offset Strategy in 2014. This Third Offset directed the development and leveraging of emergent, capabilities-based technologies to defend against the modernized, near-peer competitor nations of Russia and China.