Prepositioning is another major alternative to solving the deployment time problem for sustaining forces. However, maintenance of a large, prepositioned sustaining force capability will be expensive as long as the locations where the capability may be needed on short notice remain uncertain. If only one or a very few prepositioned concentrations are feasible, deployment time of sustaining forces will remain unacceptably long.

A third alternative would be to substantially increase the firepower of the forces that deploy early, if that can be achieved without a corresponding increase in the weight or logistics burden of these forces. In support of this alternative, near-term technological enhancements might make it possible to deploy and sustain more forces by air and to store more powerful forces on a given number of prepositioning ships. More potential crisis areas might then be covered in an affordable way by available airlift and by a less concentrated MPF configured to deploy multiservice forces that may be called upon in a crisis.

Of the many areas requiring attention, one of the more important is increased dependence on precision-guided weapons. Many technologies have grown and converged over the years since World War II to create the revolution in precision-guided weaponry that is rapidly enhancing the effectiveness of U.S. air and ground warfare forces today. These include sensors, guidance, and control for the weapons themselves; advanced sensors and position location systems and platforms, including space systems, to find, identify, and specify precisely targets and their location; improvements in battle damage assessment capability; and advanced computing, communication, command, and control systems to better plan and prosecute attacks against the targets. Experience in Desert Storm and subsequent strikes has shown that application of the resulting “smart” weapon systems to regional conflicts can help end such conflicts decisively and in less time than could have been the case before the increased availability of such systems to U.S. forces. In addition, the ability of these systems to strike targets selectively with little or no collateral damage enables precisely focused military actions that could not have been undertaken earlier.

The full importance of the greater availability of these systems has, however, not yet been realized either in force structure or in force planning and operations. Extensive use of such weapon systems in all feasible applications would imply more rapid destruction of major groups of targets in a conflict. This, in turn, has implications for reducing the length of military campaigns. That would mean reduced casualties and equipment losses, savings in logistic support required for operating the forces over the shorter time, and reduced fuel and ammunition storage at bases and aboard carriers and replenishment ships. It would consequently affect all other aspects of prosecuting a conflict. The overall cost implications of much more widespread use of “smart” weapon systems, including the cost exchange between longer campaigns mainly using cheaper, traditional weapons and shorter campaigns mainly using more

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