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A nation must think before it acts.
The United States is examining how to narrow core objectives in the Middle East to focus on improving military readiness and increasing the number of low-density, high-demand assets available for deployment in Asia and Europe. To free up more forces and to help improve readiness, Washington should explore selective engagement with Moscow about securing a formal ceasefire in Syria’s northwest and reaching agreement on a “no-foreign forces zone” in Syria’s south. This policy would not alter the status quo in Syria, but seek to use diplomatic tools to allow for the reallocation of certain resources now tasked with protecting U.S. ground forces. This engagement with the Russian Federation would elevate a key U.S. interest and use counter-terrorism capabilities based in Jordan to disrupt plots against the homeland. It would also seek to use diplomatic tools to create conditions to remove forces that do not directly support this counter-terrorism effort. This approach would retain U.S. forces in the Middle East, but in a way that allows for certain assets to be repositioned in either the United States, Indo-Pacific, or Europe.