Agility and Innovation in the Third Offset Strategy

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter firmly believes that in order for the U.S. armed forces to maintain their global preeminence, they must innovate at a level—and pace—beyond what has been required in the past. In a keynote address at a recent CSIS event, Carter outlined the vision and progress driving the concepts of what is known as the Third Offset Strategy. “Today we have the finest fighting force the world has ever known…. But it’s also a fact that our military’s excellence isn’t a birthright.”

The first offset strategy emerged out of a necessity to gain an advantage over the Soviet Union in a way that would not require the U.S. to match or even exceed Warsaw Pact forces, man for man. The solution was to leverage the U.S.’s technological advantage. President Dwight Eisenhower called for an expanded nuclear arsenal that would allow the U.S. to carry out a nuclear strike anywhere in the world in pursuit of its containment strategy of the Soviet Union. This defined the early adversarial tempo of the Cold War.

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