Some of the Analysis Behind RAND’s “Inflection Point” Report

May 2024 No Comments

Speaker: David Ochmanek (RAND)

Date: 22 May 2024

Speaker Session Summary

Modern threats from developed nations like China are beginning to exceed US capabilities, partly because the US military was predominantly focused on regional adversaries such as Iraq during Desert Storm. Mr. Ochmanek categorized the US approach to military power projection during this period as expeditionary and sequential. The US enjoyed military success because its capabilities were vastly superior to regional adversaries, which could not mount a significant military response once the US took the initiative.

However, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the rapid development of advanced weapons systems by China, the US can no longer assume an overwhelming military advantage in potential conflicts. Unlike regional adversaries, China has the capability to defend its airspace and attack US-allied land and sea bases up to 1,500 nautical miles from mainland China. Additionally, China has the capability to disrupt US intelligence, surveillance, positioning satellites, and other command and control networks. Mr. Ochmanek emphasized that typical wargame results show the US and its allies being unable to prevent China from securing its home region militarily. The Chinese military could inflict significant casualties on US and allied forces before they could mount an effective response. Mr. Ochmanek stated that there must be a new consensus for a revised operational concept of power projection, accelerated experimentation, and strong congressional support to strengthen US military capabilities.

Briefing Materials

To read more about how the US can regain the military initiative against its global adversaries, please read “Inflection Point: How to Reverse the Erosion of U.S. and Allied Military Power and Influence.” 

Biography: David Ochmanek is a senior defense analyst at RAND.  He is leading research efforts relating to the development of U.S. defense strategy, posture, and capabilities, focusing on security challenges in East Asia and Europe.  He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and the Foreign Service of the United States.  Between stints at RAND he has served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for Force Development and DASD for Strategy.  He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University.  He is a member of the Army Science Board.


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