The Magazine

Boots on the Ground? Yes!

Mar 31, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 28 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
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Ukraine is still, for the present, a no-man’s-land, neither West nor East. But Ukraine is hardly the only no-man’s-land. The entire Middle East is fast becoming an especially gruesome one. The South China Sea is likewise up for grabs. Absent a constant and powerful military presence by the forces of an American-led coalition, our adversaries are laying claim to these no-man’s-lands.

The United States still possesses uniquely powerful air and naval forces that, in the South China Sea, Persian Gulf, or Arabian Sea, can be sufficient to patrol the perimeter and deter conflict. Yet this capability cannot defeat geography. Preserving the peace on the Eurasian landmass demands land forces. These need not be very large—they can indeed be a trip-wire, if backed up by airpower and reserves—but they have to be there.

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