The Bedrock of Deterrence and America's Strategic Advantage
Long-range strike (LRS) and the often-associated phrase strategic attack are perhaps the most discussed but least understood terms in current military use.1 Despite, or perhaps because of, numerous definitions and formulations, we tend to overlook the real value of LRS capabilities in the minor details of numerous acquisition plans and concepts of operations. Many components comprise America’s power to influence. Yet its ability to project conventional and nuclear military power across the globe at a time and place of our choosing represents the influential backstop for other US instruments of power. The latent threat of violence supported by a credible capability to hold an enemy’s most valued resources at risk with little notice or chance for defense gives LRS its ultimate strategic value. Similarly, nations that maintain a robust LRS historically retain a strategic advantage against peer or near-peer state actors. Although the platform, plan, or strategy may change, the purpose of LRS remains the same—to undergird political will by demonstrating credible, flexible, survivable, and visible military power. If the United States wishes to maintain a strategic advantage across the globe, it should heed lessons learned by past global powers and place capable LRS among the highest priorities for development, investment, and modernization—even in a fiscally constrained environment.