Given that South Korea is the only country on the entire Asian continent where the United States continues to deploy ground forces and air assets, the U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea plays a critical role in supporting America’s power projection in Northeast Asia and by extension, in East Asia. The focus of this chapter is on how the Third Offset Strategy will affect U.S. power projection capabilities on the Korean Peninsula. The chapter is organized around three broad questions. First, how will future U.S. power projection capabilities built largely to cope with rising Chinese military power affect the alliance? Second, what operational burdens and challenges could the alliance face following regime collapse or other major political turbulence in North Korea? Third, what impact might the Third Offset have on South Korea’s own medium- to longer-term force modernization and defense reform pathways?

These questions attempt to identify some of the dynamics that could be triggered by the implementation of a Third Offset, combined with the ROK armed
forces’ own offset strategies and programs to cope more effectively with North Korea’s growing asymmetrical capabilities. In short, this chapter seeks to capture the strategic ramifications of the Third Offset for the U.S.-ROK alliance and Northeast Asia.

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This piece was originally published in Breakthrough on the Peninsula: Third Offset Strategies and the Future Defense of Korea.