To soften a combat zone for insertion of U.S. ground troops, we already have an answer: the Electromagnetic Launcher (EML).
Over the past couple of years, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has argued forcefully for weapon systems that are directly relevant to the kinds of "hybrid and more complex forms of warfare" we are "most likely to face in the foreseeable future." 1 Our "conventional modernization programs," he has said, "seek a 99 percent solution in years. Stability and counterinsurgency missions - the wars we are in - require 75 percent solutions in months." 2 He has also noted a need to shift from short-range to longer-range systems to give the United States the capability to "strike from over the horizon." 3