Recent assessments of the future security environment envision many types, intensities, and durations of conflicts that the United States may be a party to at some point. Many of those can be described as being “brushfires,” with the level of U.S. commitment to their resolution being highly dependent on public sentiment. In contemporary language, such campaigns are termed “wars of choice”—generally by those who rarely see the absolute necessity for U.S. intervention in overseas hostilities of any kind. “Wars of necessity,” in contrast, are portrayed as national do-or-die affairs, ideally waged solely to confront an implacable enemy on the march to world domination.
Whether or not such distinctions are valid, or even useful, is academic. Given America’s 20th-century experience, it is irresponsible to assume away future U.S. participation in major conflict. Regardless of the root cause or justification, fighting and winning a war requires the maintenance of land, sea, and air combat power, including significant joint forcible-entry capability and capacity.