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Power projection (or force projection or strength projection) is a term used in
international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities between states—such as war, diplomacy ...
to refer to the capacity of a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
to deploy and sustain forces outside its territory. This ability is a crucial element of a state's
power in international relations Power in international relations is defined in several different ways. Modern discourse generally speaks in terms of state power, indicating both economic and military power. Those states that have significant amounts of power within the internat ...
. Any state able to direct its military forces outside its territory might be said to have ''some'' level of power projection capability, but the term itself is used most frequently in reference to militaries with a worldwide reach (or at least significantly broader than a state's immediate area). Even states with sizable
hard power Hard power is the use of military and economics, economic means to social influence, influence the behavior or interests of other political bodies. This form of political power is often aggressive (coercion), and is most immediately effective when ...
assets (such as a large
standing army A standing army is a permanent, often professional, army. It is composed of full-time soldiers who may be either career soldiers or conscripts. It differs from Military reserve force, army reserves, who are enrolled for the long term, but activate ...
) may only be able to exert limited regional influence so long as they lack the means of effectively projecting their power on a global scale. Generally, only a select few states are able to overcome the logistical difficulties inherent in the deployment and direction of a modern, mechanized military force. While traditional measures of power projection typically focus on
hard power Hard power is the use of military and economics, economic means to social influence, influence the behavior or interests of other political bodies. This form of political power is often aggressive (coercion), and is most immediately effective when ...
assets (tanks, soldiers,
aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support from the Atmosphere of Earth, air. It counters the force of gravity by using either Buoyancy, static lift or by using the Lift (force), dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in ...

aircraft
, naval vessels, etc.), the developing theory of
soft power In politics (and particularly in international politics), soft power is the ability to attract co-option, co-opt rather than coerce (contrast hard power). In other words, soft Power (social and political), power involves shaping the preferences of ...
notes that power projection does not necessarily have to involve the active use of military forces in
combat Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (Hand-to-hand combat, not using weapons). Combat is sometim ...

combat
. Assets for power projection can often serve dual uses, as the deployment of various countries' militaries during the
humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) Hovercraft from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)">Hovercraft.html" ;"title="Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) Hovercraft">Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) Hovercraft from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) delivering suppl ...
illustrates. The ability of a state to project its forces into an area may serve as an effective diplomatic lever, influencing the decision-making process and acting as a potential deterrent on other states' behavior.


History

Early examples of power projection includes
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
dominance of Europe: the ability to project power is tied to the ability to innovate and field such innovations. Roman engineering innovations such as machines (
pile driver A pile driver is a heavy-duty tool used to drive piling, piles into soil to build piers, bridges, cofferdams, and other "pole" supported structures, and patterns of pilings as part of permanent deep foundations for buildings or other structures ...

pile driver
), concrete, aqueducts and modern roads provided the footing for an economic engine that powered a military that was unmatched in its day. Examples of Roman power projection include
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
constructing the Rhine bridge in 10 days to demonstrate the ability to march his 40,000 troops as he saw fit: the local inhabitants enjoyed the natural protection of the river and fled when this natural protection was overcome. Although Rome is far from the center of modern power, its influence can be seen in the architecture of modern capitols around the world (domes, arches, columns). The demonstration of an extraordinary innovative military capability will signal power and, when properly applied, terminate conflicts summarily. During the
Ming treasure voyages The Ming treasure voyages were the seven maritime expeditions undertaken by Ming China's treasure fleet between 1405 and 1433. The Yongle Emperor The Yongle Emperor (pronounced , ; 2 May 1360 – 12 August 1424) — personal name Zhu Di (W ...
in the 15th century, the Chinese treasure fleet was heavily militarized to exercise power projection around the Indian Ocean and thereby promote its interests. The modern ability to project power and exert influence on a global scale can be tied to innovations stemming from the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
and the associated modernizations in technology, communications,
finance Finance is a term for the management, creation, and study of money In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the left corn ...

finance
and
bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of any size, although the term usually connotes ...

bureaucracy
; this finally allowed the state to create unprecedented amounts of wealth and to effectively marshal these resources to exert power over long distances. The first such industrial-technological power was the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
in the 19th century. As a maritime power, its strength and ability to project power to further its interests lay in the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
. A worldwide system of
naval base A naval base, navy base, or military port is a military base A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized fo ...
s and
coaling station Fuelling stations, also known as coaling stations, are repositories of fuel (initially coal and later oil) that have been located to service commercial and naval vessels. Today, the term "coaling station" can also refer to coal storage and feeding ...
s, a large logistical bureaucracy to oversee shipbuilding, the supply of coal, food, water, and sailors, and an industrial base for the manufacture and technological enhancement of the
fleet Fleet may refer to: Vehicles *Fishing fleet A fishing fleet is an aggregate of commercial fishing Ship, vessels. The term may be used of all vessels operating out of a particular port, all vessels engaged in a particular type of fishing (as in t ...
were among the essential ingredients for this capability. During the
First Opium War The First Opium War (), also known as the Opium War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements fought between Britain and the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties ...
(1839–42), it was this capacity that enabled a British expeditionary force of 15
barracks ship A barracks ship or barracks barge, or in civilian use accommodation vessel or accommodation ship, is a ship or a non-self-propelled barge containing a superstructure of a type suitable for use as a temporary barracks Barracks are usually a grou ...
s, 4 steam-powered
gunboats ironclad river gunboats assault the Confederates at Fort Donelson Fort Donelson was a fortress built early in 1862 by the Confederate States of America, Confederacy during the American Civil War to control the Cumberland River, which led to th ...
and 25 smaller boats with 4,000 marines to successfully defend its interests 6,000 miles from the fleet's home port. The
Anglo Anglo is a prefix indicating a relation to, or descent from, the Angles, England, English culture, the English people or the English language, such as in the term ''Anglo-Saxon language''. It is often used alone, somewhat loosely, to refer to ...

Anglo
-
French
French
expeditionary force sent to shore up the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
against Russian aggression during the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russian Empire, Russia lost to an alliance of Second French Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, ...
(1853–56) was one of the first examples of a planned expeditionary power-projection campaign. It was the first campaign to use modern technology, including steam-powered warships and
telegraph Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of messages where the sender uses symbolic codes, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus flag semaphore Flag semaphore (from the Ancient ...

telegraph
communications. Another illustrative example of industrial power projection, was the
British Expedition to Abyssinia The British Expedition to Abyssinia was a rescue mission and punitive expedition carried out in 1868 by the armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire The Ethiopian Empire (), also formerly known by the exonym An endo ...
in 1868 as a retaliation against Emperor
Tewodros II of Ethiopia Tewodros II ( gez, ቴዎድሮስ, baptized as Sahle Dingil; 14 January 1818 – 14 April 1868) was the Emperor of Ethiopia The Emperor of Ethiopia ( gez, ንጉሠ ነገሥት, nəgusä nägäst, " King of Kings") was the hereditary ruler ...
's imprisonment of several missionaries and
British government ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comm ...
representatives. The expeditionary force sent was a tremendous logistical and technological challenge at the time. Commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier of the
Bombay Army The Bombay Army was the army of the Bombay Presidency, one of the three presidencies of Presidencies and provinces of British India, British India. It was established in 1662 and governed by the East India Company until the Government of India A ...
, military intelligence was used to estimate the required size of the army and the difficulties of traversing the inhospitable terrain. A force of over 30,000 was shipped from
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
to
Zula Zula is a small town in central Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Geeska Afrika ...

Zula
on the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
on a fleet of more than 280
steam ships
steam ships
, while an advance detachment of
engineer Engineers, as practitioners of engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of enginee ...

engineer
s built a large port with two piers, warehouses and a lighthouse, and constructed a 20-mile-long railway towards the interior. A road was also built for the artillery to be moved along with the help of
elephant Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A specie ...

elephant
s. After three months of trekking, the British force repelled an Ethiopian attack and launched an artillery bombardment against the fortress of
Magdala Magdala (Aramaic language, Aramaic: מגדלא, ''Magdala'', meaning "tower"; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ''Migdal''; ar, المجدل, ''al-Majdal'') was an ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, north of Tiberias. In the Babylonian Ta ...

Magdala
which led to its capitulation; Tewodros committed suicide. In the
Russo-Japanese War The Russo-Japanese War (russian: Ру́сско-япóнская войнá, Rússko-yapónskaya voyná; ja, 日露戦争, Nichiro sensō, Japanese-Russian War) was fought between the Empire of Japan The was a historical natio ...
of 1904–05, the
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
destruction of the Imperial Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet demonstrated
Imperial Russia The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. T ...
's inability to project force in the
East East or Orient is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions , , , and , commonly denoted by their initials N, E, S, and W. East and west are (at s) to north and south, with east ...

East
. This immediately diminished Russia's diplomatic sway in that region. At the same time, Russia's western armies became less credible, as
mobilization Mobilization is the act of assembling and readying military troops A troop is a military sub-subunit Sub-subunit or sub-sub-unit is a subordinated element below platoon level of company-sized units or sub-units which normally might no ...

mobilization
exposed organizational flaws and threw the western armies into chaos. This led analysts in Europe, such as
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
chief of staff The title chief of staff (or head of staff) identifies the leader of a complex organization such as the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for w ...
Count
Alfred von Schlieffen Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, generally called Count Schlieffen (; 28 February 1833 – 4 January 1913), was a German Empire, German field marshal and strategist who served as chief of the German Empire, Imperial German General Staff from 1891 to 1 ...

Alfred von Schlieffen
, to conclude that Russia would prove inept at projecting force in Europe, thus demoting Russia in European diplomatic relations. Many other actions can be considered projections of force. The 19th century is full of incidents such as the 1864
Shimonoseki campaign #REDIRECT Shimonoseki campaign The refers to a series of military engagements in 1863 and 1864, fought to control Shimonoseki Straits of Japan by joint naval forces from United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Great Britain, Second French E ...
and the
Boxer Rebellion The Boxer Rebellion, Boxer Uprising or Yihetuan Movement, was an armed and violent , , and insurrection in China between 1899 and 1901, towards the end of the . It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness (''Yìhéquán''), kno ...

Boxer Rebellion
. More recently, the
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es , link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war An undeclared war is military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
provided an example of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
's ability to project force far from home. Other recent examples of power projection include the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq An invasion is a Offensive (military), military offensive in which large numbers of combatants of one geopolitics, geopolitical Legal entity, entity aggressively enter territory (country subdivision), territory owned by another such entity, gene ...
and the
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between ...
. The ability of the
U.S. Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = " Anchors Aweigh" ...
, the British
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
, and the
French Navy The French Navy (french: Marine nationale, lit=National Navy), informally , is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces The French Armed Forces (french: Forces armées françaises) encompass the Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "ar ...
to deploy large numbers of ships for long periods of time away from home are notable projection abilities.


Elements

The
U.S. Department of Defense The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government directly related to national secur ...
defines power projection as the "ability of a nation to apply all or some of its elements of national power—political, economic, informational, or military—to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from multiple dispersed locations to respond to crises, to contribute to deterrence, and to enhance regional stability".United States Department of Defense. ''J1-02: Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.'

As distance between a fighting force and its headquarters increases, Command and control (military), command and control inevitably becomes more difficult. Modern-day power projection often employs high-tech communications and information technology to overcome these difficulties, a process sometimes described as the " Revolution in Military Affairs". While a few long-range
weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of activities such as hunting, crime, law enforcement, self-defe ...
s such as the
intercontinental ballistic missile An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a missile In military terminology, a missile is a guided airborne ranged weapon . English longbowmen figure prominently in the foreground at right where they drive away the French crossbow ...
s (ICBMs) and some
unmanned combat aerial vehicle An unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), also known as a combat drone or battlefield UAV, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is used for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance and carries aircraft ordnance suc ...
s ( drones) are capable of projecting deadly force in their own right, it is
military logistics Military logistics is the discipline of planning and carrying out the movement, supply, and maintenance of military forces. In its most comprehensive sense, it is those aspects or military operations that deal with: * Design, development, acquisi ...
that is at the heart of power projection. The ability to integrate
naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...

naval
and air forces with land
armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch Military branch ...

armies
as part of
joint warfare Joint warfare is a military doctrine which places priority on the integration of the various service branches of a state's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primar ...
is a key aspect of effective power projection;
airlift An airlift is the organized delivery of supplies or personnel Employment is the relationship between two party (law), parties, usually based on a employment contract, contract where work is paid for, where one party, which may be a cor ...

airlift
and
sealift Sealift is a term used predominantly in military logistics Military logistics is the discipline of planning and carrying out the movement, supply, and maintenance of military forces. In its most comprehensive sense, it is those aspects or milita ...
capabilities facilitate the deployment of
soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the ...

soldier
s and
weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of activities such as hunting, crime, law enforcement, self-defe ...
s to a distant theater of war. The aircraft carrier strike group,
strategic bomber A strategic bomber is a medium- to long-range penetration bomber A bomber is a combat aircraft designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry (such as bombs), launching aerial torpedo, torpedoes, or deploying ...
,
ballistic missile submarine upright=1.35, Soviet Project 667BD (Delta II class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine capable of deploying submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with nuclear warheads. The United S ...
, and
strategic airlift An airlift is the organized delivery of supplies or personnel primarily via military transport aircraft. Airlifting consists of two distinct types: strategic and tactical. Typically, strategic airlifting involves moving material long dista ...
er are all examples of power projection platforms. Military units designed to be
light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nan ...
and mobile, such as
airborne forces Airborne operation Military parachuting or gliding form of inserting personnel or supplies. Purpose Delivering personnel, equipment, or supplies. Origins Attributed to Italian troops on November 1927. Airborne forces are groun ...
(
paratrooper A paratrooper is a military parachutist—someone trained to parachute A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', ...

paratrooper
s and
air assault Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces behind en ...
forces) and
amphibious assault Amphibious warfare is a type of Offensive (military), offensive military operation that today uses naval ships to project ground and air power onto a hostile or potentially hostile shore at a designated landing beach. Through history the operat ...
forces, are utilized in power projection. Forward basing is another method of power projection, which, by pre-positioning military units or stockpiles of arms at strategically located
military base A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...
s outside a country's territory, reduces the time and distance needed to
mobilize
mobilize
them.


Types

Scholars have disaggregated military power projection into nine different categories based on political goals and level of force. Four of these employ "soft" military power (securing
sea lane A sea lane, sea road or shipping lane is a regularly used navigable A body of water ( Lysefjord) in Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nord ...
s of communication,
non-combatant Non-combatant is a term of art Jargon is the specialized terminology Terminology is a general word for the group of specialized words or meanings relating to a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use. This is also k ...
evacuation,
humanitarian Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence ...
response, and
peacekeeping Peacekeeping comprises activities intended to create conditions that favour lasting peace. Research generally finds that peacekeeping reduces civilian and battlefield deaths, as well as reduces the risk of renewed warfare. Within the United N ...
) and the rest are primarily concerned with "hard" military power (
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