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Research Report

BREAKTHROUGH ON THE PENINSULA: Third Offset Strategies and the Future Defense of Korea

Patrick M. Cronin
Bruce E. Bechtol
Hyeong-wook Boo
In-bum Chun
Chung Min Lee
Seongwon Lee
Daniel A. Pinkston
Mira Rapp-Hooper
Michael Raska
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2016
Pages: 103

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-1)
  2. (pp. 2-2)
  3. (pp. 3-7)

    This volume is a first attempt to address how America’s Third Offset Strategy could affect security on the Korean Peninsula. The Third Offset is in essence a call for the United States to maintain military superiority through investing in technological, organizational, and operational innovation, allowing it to operate globally in an era of proliferating precision munitions. Since the concept was coined several years ago, however, there has been scant analysis about how the Third Offset will affect security on the peninsula. Kim Jong-un’s acceleration of North Korean nuclear and missile programs makes this more than an academic concern to the...

  4. (pp. 9-21)

    In November 2014, the Department of Defense proclaimed defense innovation a major priority. Often reduced to the moniker “Third Offset Strategy,” the central aim of the innovation effort is to address the adverse consequences of proliferated long-range, precision-strike systems. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel argued in the foundational speech launching the initiative, DoD will invest “in our nation’s unrivaled capacity for innovation.”¹ Secretary Hagel injected a sense of urgency into the innovation effort, given that forward-deployed U.S. forces and “unmatched technological and operational edge . . . is being increasingly challenged.”² The spread of advanced weapons “that were once...

  5. (pp. 23-37)

    Since the early 1990s, South Korea has been undergoing a comprehensive military modernization drive. The aim has been to respond to the widening spectrum of North Korean threats, mitigate technological and interoperability gaps with U.S. forces, and attain a self-reliant defense posture. In the process, South Korea’s defense planners have been searching for a new strategic paradigm and operational concepts that would allow greater flexibility, adaptability, and autonomy under uncertain conditions. Ambitious goals and high costs, however, have propelled perennial policy debates on the feasibility, affordability, pace, direction, character, and implementation of the South Korean military transformation.

    South Korea’s search...

  6. (pp. 39-49)

    The United States has embarked on a Third Offset Strategy designed to maintain and enhance its technological and warfighting advantages, specifically to address military developments by other nations. The Third Offset rests on the judgment that the United States will wage war in a world of ubiquitous precision munitions – a high-end technology once only enjoyed by a few nations.¹ At the same time, many nations are investing in capabilities designed to negate American military advantages and exploit its vulnerabilities. Although not as sophisticated as the efforts under way in nations such as the United States, China, or Russia, North...

  7. (pp. 51-62)

    This chapter analyzes how the U.S. Third Offset Strategy affects the defenses of the Republic of Korea (ROK). How the ROK responds to and even initiates its own version of an offset strategy will be important for years to come. Meanwhile, what makes the Third Offset Strategy so timely is the effect that tomorrow’s modernization decisions may have on today’s volatile security environment on the Korean Peninsula. In 2016, North Korea successfully tested a nuclear device, launched a “satellite launched vehicle” that may be a “covert” test for a three-stage ballistic missile, deployed its first open-ocean submarine and an accompanying...

  8. (pp. 63-75)

    Given that South Korea is the only country on the entire Asian continent where the United States continues to deploy ground forces and air assets, the U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea plays a critical role in supporting America’s power projection in Northeast Asia and by extension, in East Asia. The focus of this chapter is on how the Third Offset Strategy will affect U.S. power projection capabilities on the Korean Peninsula. The chapter is organized around three broad questions. First, how will future U.S. power projection capabilities built largely to cope with rising Chinese military power affect the...

  9. (pp. 77-83)

    Much has been written about North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal: By 2020, the Hermit Kingdom could have anywhere from a few dozen to a hundred of the world’s most dangerous weapons. It also may have multiple means by which to deliver them, and the ability to hold several key U.S. allies, and possibly the American homeland, at risk. As they have grown more common in recent years, North Korean missile tests often are referred to as “provocations” – but they are much more than this. Pyongyang’s development of sophisticated ballistic and cruise missiles serves as a reminder that the proliferation...

  10. (pp. 85-92)

    Few scholars and practitioners in South Korea understand the current U.S. effort to create the Third Offset Strategy, and even fewer the potential implications for the Korean Peninsula. This may reflect the ongoing debate within the United States about the importance, scope, and likelihood of success in harnessing advanced technologies and new concepts of operation to strengthen America’s power projection capabilities in the face of proliferating technologies. Because the Third Offset Strategy remains more rhetorical and aspirational, it is only natural that the Republic of Korea’s defense establishment is just beginning to consider its implications for security on the Korean...

  11. (pp. 95-105)

    The future of security on the Korean Peninsula may well reside in space. Having succeeded in launching a satellite into orbit, North Korea has announced plans to put a man on the Moon.¹ Independently, the Republic of Korea is a developing space power with space security interests commensurate with the country’s increasing space vulnerabilities. In recent years, the South Korean public has become more aware of the ROK space program while policymakers have revised domestic space law and supported institutional capacity building to enhance ROK space security. South Korea’s national security policy addresses a full spectrum of threats, but North...

  12. (pp. 107-109)
  13. (pp. 110-111)