The first round of any future combat with a near-peer competitor is going to be an exchange of precision-guided munitions, and winning that contest is going to be “the first aspect” of the so-called Third Offset Strategy, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said yesterday. Speaking at a McAleese Associates/Credit Suisse symposium in Washington, D.C., Work said “competitors have caught up in this regime” of precision PGMs, and winning that first exchange will be crucial. “If you cannot do that, and you cannot convince your adversary that you dominate in that competition, then they may feel emboldened to pull the trigger, and they may feel that they can forestall us from projecting power into a theater.” Work said the Pentagon is “still trying to figure … out” how to “ride it out … if someone throws a salvo of 100 guided munitions.” He asked industry for ideas and said, “It doesn’t need to be a kinetic solution. Hell, I don’t even want a kinetic solution.” That would be imposing a cost on the US to match missile for missile, he said. Israel’s Iron Dome, he said, only works because many of the incoming rounds are headed for empty ground and can be ignored. If all the rounds are guided, though, that system would be quickly overwhelmed, he noted.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.