Pivot but Hedge: A Strategy for Pivoting to Asia While Hedging in the Middle East

David W. Barno, Nora Bensahel, Travis Sharp

The U.S. government's new emphasis on the Asia-Pacific represents a bold strategic choice that could animate U.S. national security policy for years to come. Yet the United States must balance its rightful new focus on the Asia-Pacific with the volatility that still exists in other areas of the world. The United States should pivot to the Asia-Pacific—but to protect its vital interests, it should also hedge against threats elsewhere, particularly in the greater Middle East. To implement a “Pivot but Hedge” strategy, the U.S. government should do three things. First, it should exercise caution when cutting the defense budget. Second, it should give the military services greater leadership roles in specific regions: naval and air forces should lead in the Asia-Pacific, while ground forces should lead in the greater Middle East. Third, it should maintain expansible, capable, and well-trained ground forces as a hedge against global uncertainty.