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Rapid Force Projection: Exploring New Technology Concepts for Light Airborne Forces

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In recent years, light, rapid-reaction forces have become a staple of U.S. military strategy and planning. Instead of defending predetermined regions with large, prepositioned forces, current U.S. plans call for quick and decisive deployments of lightly armed forces into locations of potential or actual hostilities. Equipping these forces with new or expected-to-be-developed hunter/killer capabilities — a combination of standoff weapons, sophisticated reconnaissance and targeting systems, and efficient counterbattery weapons — would greatly increase their lethality and survivability. Such an arsenal would be more effective than these forces' current firepower, which relies heavily on direct-fire, line-of-sight technologies, and would allow light forces to carry out the wider range of missions that military strategists have envisioned for them. These conclusions are supported by recent RAND research on the Rapid-Force Projection Initiative (RFPI), one of the Pentagon's new advanced-concept technology demonstrations. Using computer simulations, RAND analysts examined, compared, and contrasted new technologies and systems that would allow light forces to better withstand and overcome attacks from larger, more heavily armed forces in varying terrain. This documented briefing describes the simulation tools, the scenarios used for the analysis, and the findings resulting from the research. The simulation results suggest that a division ready brigade (DRB) can be improved to fight and survive against a current and future heavy force. The "hunter/standoff killer" concept, made possible by a number of emerging technologies, proved to be major contributor to the success of a DRB against a larger, more maneuverable heavy force. This briefing is a companion document to DB-169-A/OSD, Rapid Force Projection Technologies: A Quick-Look Analysis of Advanced Light Indirect Fire Systems, R. Steeb, J. Matsumura, et al., 1996.