The third offset strategy: A misleading slogan

The Pentagon announced a third “offset” strategy in 2014, claiming that the United States faces threats from Russia, China, and elsewhere that require the development and deployment of cutting-edge technologies – robots, autonomous systems, and 3D printing, for example – to maintain US military superiority. The authors compare the new offset with earlier offsets that gave the United States a military advantage over the Soviet Union during the Cold War, even though the Soviets had massive conventional forces. This time around, though, the authors conclude that an offset is unnecessary to keep the United States in the lead, and that it is really just an excuse to increase defense spending.

This article was originally published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.