Preparing for Attack by Precision-Guided Missiles

The US military “has become accustomed to assuming” its opponents either can’t strike US bases and forces overseas with precision, or don’t have the capacity to overwhelm US defenses, but “neither of these assumptions are correct today,” Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said Friday. In a new report, Gunzinger and co-author Bryan Clark recommend developing several operational concepts to create advantages for the US in future salvo competitions. For example, the US should position power-projection forces outside the reach of most missile threats, and disperse forces and use cluster basing in contested areas, according to the report. The US military should also “be prepared to conduct offensive operations to kill an enemy’s archers before they launch their [precision-guided missile] arrows,” and increase the capacity of US air and missile defenses, the report states. “The US military now is not well prepared to defeat large salvos of PGMs,” Gunzinger said, adding that the goal is to create conditions that would require an adversary to launch a salvo so large that they don’t attack at all.