Thursday, February 29, 2024

US Military Theories of Victory for a War with the PRC

The return of strategic competition and the war in Ukraine have highlighted the stark risks of conflict with nuclear-armed great powers: Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Such a conflict would entail escalation risks that the United States has not seriously considered since the Cold War. A key question for the U.S. Department of Defense is how to prevail in such a war while limiting the scope of escalation. A better understanding of this challenge can help inform force development and prepare future leaders for high-stakes deliberations on the risks and trade-offs involved in fighting another great-power war, should this war come to pass.

This paper outlines potential U.S. theories of victory for a war with the PRC and analyzes their associated escalation risks. The paper is intended for defense strategists and force planners interested in preparing for future conflict with a nuclear-armed adversary. The research was commissioned by the Department of the Air Force and conducted within the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE as part of a fiscal year 2022 project, “Winning Wars While Managing the Risks of Escalation.” Data collection and analysis began in October 2021 and continued through September 2022.


Post a Comment