This ability is a crucial element of a state's power in international relations. 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 assets (such as a large standing army) 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. Allies and partners can take up or share some of the burden of power projection.
Early examples of power projection includes 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), 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 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 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 and the associated modernizations in technology, communications, finance and 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 in the 19th century. As a maritime power, its strength and ability to project power to further its interests lay in the Royal Navy. A worldwide system of naval bases and coaling stations, 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 were among the essential ingredients for this capability. During the First Opium War (1839–1842), it was this capacity that enabled a British expeditionary force of 15 barracks ships, 4 steam-powered gunboats and 25 smaller boats with 4,000 marines to successfully defend its interests 6,000 miles from the fleet's home port.
A force of over 30,000 was shipped from British India to Zula on the Red Sea on a fleet of more than 280 steam ships, while an advance detachment of engineers 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 elephants. After three months of trekking, the British force repelled an Ethiopian attack and launched an artillery bombardment against the fortress of Magdala which led to its capitulation; Tewodros committed suicide.
In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, the Japanese destruction of the Imperial Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet demonstrated Imperial Russia's inability to project force in the East. This immediately diminished Russia's diplomatic sway in that region. At the same time, Russia's western armies became less credible, as mobilization exposed organizational flaws and threw the western armies into chaos. This led analysts in Europe, such as Germanchief of staff Count Alfred von Schlieffen, to conclude that Russia would prove inept at projecting force in Europe, thus demoting Russia in European diplomatic relations.
The cargo hold and intercontinental flight capabilities of the C-5 Galaxy make it a major asset for deploying military equipment around the globe.
The U.S. Department of Defense 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".
The British Army is investigating innovations, such as robots and drones, including 70 technologies funded by the £800 million (US$1 billion) Defence Innovation Fund launched in 2016. Two hundred troops will engage in "surveillance, long-range, and precision targeting, enhanced mobility and the re-supply of forces, urban warfare and enhanced situational awareness". The British Army is reducing size by about 10,000 troops as well, by 2025. The British Army will have Integrated Operating Concept (MDI—like MDO) for "gray zone" operations across domains, using a synthetic operating environment, with repeatable hard and soft strike capability. The UK, Germany, and France respectively have established a joint command for space United Kingdom Space Command, a Space Situational Awareness Centre (Germany), and Commandement de l’espace (France). In light of the 2022 Russian Invasion of UkraineNATO members are implementing new stockpile guidelines for their arsenals.
"By 2020 the Army's programs for modernization were now framed as a decades-long process of cooperation with allies and partners, for competition with potential adversaries who historically have blurred the distinction between peace and war"—from: § Reorganization plan of the United States Army
In 2020, one measure of § military power projection ranks the competition between the armies of the world (after the US Army, which is ranked atop this list).[c] The list of armies, a mixture of allies, partners, and competitors is estimated to be:
2014 map of line separating Ukrainian and Russian-backed forces
Ukraine had a trench network on its border with Russia, in a standoff as of April 2021. A border exercise involving 110,000 Russian troops on the Ukraine border has pulled back; however hundreds of armored vehicles, including tanks are remaining one hundred miles from Donbas (colloquial for Donets basin) in spite of a partial armor pullback.Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) drones which are monitoring the line between Ukrainian troops and the Donbas separatists are seeing jamming of their drone's dual GPS receivers, with tens of thousands of infantry troops remaining on the Ukrainian border. The OSCE has provided a map of the line dividing the Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed forces. As of 18 February 2022 there were up to 190,000 troops along Ukraine's borders; after recognizing the separatist states of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, Moscow is moving troops over the border of Russia into the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, and establishing military bases there. This troop movement triggered sanctions on five Russian banks and three individuals, on 22 February 2022.[e] (See 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine which began 24 February 2022)
Cyber attacks on Ukrainian government websites are occurring in January 2022. Frida Ghitis and Richard Galant point out that the muddy season that ends winter would bog down an armored invasion. US Army Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vershinen points out that if the Russian Army were to attempt a quick fait accompli and then dig in, its logistical capability would be insufficient to complete a large land grab, as its logistic capabilities are largely based on railroads, but not trucks. Russia's logistic capability without railroads is 90 miles, without replenishment; thus Sebastien Roblin suggests that a "short, victorious war" by Russia (as in the 12-day war with Georgia in 2008), with stipulations largely resembling its current diplomatic demands, namely installation of pro-Russian leadership, Ukraine's withdrawal from the path of joining NATO etc., coupled with the expedient of bypassing Russian control of Kyiv's population, might avoid Russia's getting bogged down in Ukraine. This calculation could get up-ended by a longer war,[e][g] with determined resistance in Ukraine, via guerilla warfare, as in Afghanistan (1979-1989), which indirectly ended the Soviet Union. Within two months of the beginning of the First Chechen War, an antiwar movement arose in Russia.
On 22 February 2022 historian Sergey Radchenko recalled a vignette from September 1945, during the post World War II Potsdam Conference negotiations on the division of world power at the London Conference of Foreign Ministers, when Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov asked U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes whether he carried the atomic bomb in his side pocket, to which Byrnes threatened Molotov to stop stalling, or else Byrnes would pull the atomic bomb out of his pocket and use it on Molotov (laughter). Molotov was guided by Stalin's directive "It is clear that you must display complete obduracy". (See Proxy war)
Russia and Belarus began Zapad 2021, a 200,000-troop exercise held every four years. The Pripyat marshes would bog down an armored invasion through Belarus.: 2:22 [e]
In the opinion of James Stavridis, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine is showing that Special Forces, unmanned systems, and Cyber will become far more important in the future.
In 2021 Russia spent 2.7 percent of its GDP on defense, a level which is expected to drop to 2.3 percent by 2023, as part of a mandate to boost domestic production.
Unmanned ground combat vehicles (UGCVs), among them Uran-6, Uran-9 (Уран-9), and Uran-14 are entering service in the Russian Army as of 2021. Uran-6 is a mine flail; Uran-14 is an unmanned firefighting vehicle. Uran-9s are semi-autonomous robotic combat vehicles; specialists can operate them using mobile control stations. Their first attempted service was in Syria. Analysts from BAE Systems (UK) assessed the Uran-9s in Syria as unreliable, with their radio-controls sometimes blocked by buildings; their sensors and guidance were unstabilized. An armed Uran-9 weighs 12 tons, and measures 5 meters long, which is a fifth of the weight and half the length of a T-90 tank. Each Uran-9 control system operates at ranges up to 1.8 miles from the UGVs;: min 1:00 : minute 2:20 each control system currently (2021) guides 4 UGVs, in a leader-follower configuration. Uran-9 was used in the Vostok 2018 exercises in 2018. At least 20 Uran-9 UGCVs exist.
Russia's defense ministry has signed a contract to field the Tsirkon hypersonic missiles to its troops in 2025.
During the 2021 negotiations for defusing the Ukraine-Russia confrontation, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has warned that its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile, which is already deployed in the European part of Russia, might be further employed there.[b]
On 1 September 2022 Russia, China, India, and 11 other nations began a scaled-down Vostok 2022 (East 2022). Vostok will exercise 50,000 troops, down from 300,000 in 2018. India is contributing 75 troops. 
By 19 October 2022 NATO nations were providing winter equipment to Ukraine. By Spring 2023 the US industrial base can be providing 20,000 rounds of 155mm howitzer munitions per month to Ukraine.
China—RAND simulations show Blue losses. Six of the top 15 defense companies in the world are now Chinese, in 2019 for the first time. The competition with China was shaped in the decade 2010–2020, according to David Kriete.
Secretary Mark Esper said that China is aiming to be the dominant military power in Asia by 2049. The 14th five-year plan (2021-2025) of China's ruling party, aims to accelerate the army's modernization and informationization, in order to improve national security for 2027 (100th anniversary of its ruling party), according to Dean Cheng. By 2023 China's working-age demographic (a shrinking labor force/ capital savings rate) will start to work against the Party's aspiration for 2027,[h] which, according to Xi Jinping's plan, is for China's military to reach parity with the US military in 2027.
The International Federation of Robotics reports that China has been the world leader in implementing industrial robots for the past eight years; in 2020 China used almost half the world's industrial robots.
The takeover of a UK semiconductor fab by a Chinese-owned firm has been blocked on national security grounds.
In 2017 China adopted the National Intelligence Law which obligates Chinese companies to subordinate themselves to intelligence-gathering measures for the state. China is militarizing the South China Sea. In 2020 a match-up of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (a rebuilt aircraft cruiser) versus the supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan is assessed to give the Ronald Reagan air superiority within one hour.
China controls 80% of world rare earth mineral production, and routinely floods this market when other nations attempt to ramp up their own rare earth production.
The tech leaders of China are being enlisted to aid 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' by pledging part of their wealth to 'common prosperity'. The Cyberspace Administration of China is regulating algorithms on its financial reporting websites which republish foreign financial journalists.
Chinese cyber groups are attacking Russia, reports Ben Watson. China is accelerating its timeline to take Taiwan.
149 Chinese fighters and bombers swept over Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) 1–4 October 2021. Taiwan has countered with Civil Air Patrol warnings.
China is implementing its plan for 2027: Office of Secretary of Defense (3 Nov 2021) "Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China", Annual report to Congress : 38:30 [e][i][j]
By November 2022 a strict zero-Covid lockdown policy instituted in 2020 had led to 2022 COVID-19 protests in China; China then allowed use of a locally-developed mRNA vaccine (2 December 2022), in lieu of lockdowns.
India: faces Pakistan; Pakistan can be supplied with Turkey's drones (such as the Bayraktar TB2), which were used with great effect by Azerbaijan against Armenian tanks and Armenian air defense during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. In 2010 China deployed 11,000 troops in Gilgit, near Kashmir.
Japan and India have agreed to enhance their bilateral defense cooperation (9 September 2022).
Japan: faces North Korea; Japan has expressed interest in developing its own F-X fighter program; Brian Burton notes that interoperable materiel is needed for allies and partners of the US, and that the US could constructively influence Japan's impending 20-year development effort with lessons learned from UAVs and air defense, for example. On 26 December 2019, at Putin's annual news conference with foreign media, Hirofumi Sugizaki, a Japanese journalist asked about the end of the INF Treaty and the cooperation of Russia and China on an anti-missile system. Putin characterized the anti-missile system as defensive, and the relation of US and Russia as a 'draw' (ヒキワケ—hikiwake). Japan will compensate companies for not disclosing patents with military applications. In a Joint test, Japan's Cooperative Engagement Capability allowed JS Maya to detect and track a ballistic missile; JS Haguro shot it down.
Applications of power projection
The Texas National Security Review projects five scenarios for the global economy:
Reglobalization as in the 1980s
Deglobalization away from the trends of the 2000s
Showing the flag: the symbolic deployment of military forces to a region for the purposes of demonstrating political interest, resolve, or willingness to take more forceful military action.
Compulsion/deterrence: the use of the threat of military force against another state to either induce it into or dissuade it from pursuing a given policy. In this form, power projection acts as a diplomatic tool, attempting to influence the decision-making process of foreign actors.See Power projection#Gray zone competition for context
Punishment: the punitive use of force against another state in response to their pursuit of a given policy.[a]
Armed intervention: the movement of military forces into another nation's territory for the purposes of influencing the internal affairs of the target country short of outright conquest.
^ abcWhen asked about countering tactical nuclear weapons which Russia might possibly use against Ukraine, Mark Esper the US' 27th secretary of defense suggested that US and NATO allies agree to put an 'air cap' over Ukraine, to counter any Russian aircraft capable of delivering a tactical nuclear bomb (most likely a 1-10 kTon gravity bomb, or via Iskander cruise missile), and to warn Russia not to fly such an aircraft at Ukraine.: min 1:30
^The US Army's unclassified Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept is "the combined arms employment of capabilities from all domains that create and exploit relative advantages to defeat enemy forces, achieve objectives and consolidate gains during competition, crisis, and armed conflict".
^ abIn 2022 Russia's actions against Ukraine alerted 'the West' (that is, Europe, and its NATO partners) to the threat to Europe's food and energy supply. After the 2008 war in Georgia, and the 2014 takeover of Crimea and Donbas in Ukraine,: 2:42 a political takeover of Ukraine is a likely objective of Russian leadership.
^Russia's invasion was countered by $100 billion in logistical aid to Ukraine, Feb-Dec 2022; however the aid is becoming constrained by the capacity of the US's industrial base to surge production. The invasion is causing materiel shortages in Russia. The surge in aid to Ukraine is causing NATO to acquire more interoperable materiel from a global industrial base, for more integrated deterrence across the NATO alliance against its adversaries.
^During the DoD secretary's review of the 7th monthly meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Gen. Mark Milley was pressed for an assessment of the CCP's readiness for war; Gen. Milley reminded the press that the PLA had not fought a war since 1979; that China's GDP was being harvested for materiel, and that the US military would remain atop the world's armies as long as the US GDP remained strong.: 38:30
On 7 December 2022 "Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Royal Navy Adm. Sir Tony Radakin, the United Kingdom's chief of defense staff, said the Russian leader has continued to make calamitous mistakes in Russia's war on Ukraine"; when asked "might the invasion of Ukraine embolden China to invade Taiwan"? —Radakin rejected the premise, and Milley reiterated "[The US] is the number one military in the world, and it's the most capable that combined arms maneuver," ... "We're one of the few militaries remaining in the world that can bring it all together in time and space and in all the domains of space, cyber, land, sea and air and undersea. We are very skilled and talented at doing all that. And, and no adversary should underestimate our capabilities".
^ abPravda (Правда) (17 Mar 2022) Zelenskyy explained the essence of the new military alliance U24 from Zelenskyy's night address verbatim: "I addressed the United States and all responsible states with a proposition to create a new U24 union: a new union that will ensure that each aggressor receives a coordinated world response quickly, effectively, and immediately - not in weeks, months, years, but for the first 24 hours after the attack."
"We can no longer trust existing institutions. We cannot expect bureaucrats in international organisations to change fast enough, so we must look for new guarantees, create new tools, and to build alliances with those who have the courage to do what justice demands."
^Mehul Srivastava, Madhumita Murgia, and Hannah Murphy, Financial Times (3/9/2022, 8:33 AM) The secret US mission to bolster Ukraine’s cyber defences ahead of Russia’s invasion European official: "instead of communicating solely through encrypted military-grade phones, Russian commanders are sometimes piggybacking on Ukrainian cell phone networks to communicate, at times simply by using their Russian cell phones.
'The Ukrainians love it—there is so much data in simply watching these phones, whether or not they are using encrypted apps,' he said.
The Ukrainians then block Russian phones from their local networks at key moments, further jamming their communications. 'Then you suddenly see Russian soldiers grabbing cell phones off Ukrainians on the street, raiding repair shops for sims,' he said. 'This is not sophisticated stuff. It’s quite puzzling."
^Andrew Goodman (26 Apr 2022) Putin the Planner Worked alongside Putin when he was Deputy Mayor of St. Petersberg. "Whatever happens on the ground now, there is good reason to think that Putin will continue to pursue a solution on his terms as long as he remains in power".
^Binkov (26 Jan 2022) What might happen if Russia does attack Ukraine? Ukraine is outgunned. Russia would likely stop when resistance stiffens, in Spring 2022. Europe would be divided over heating supplies for impending winter. Ties between Russia and China would strengthen as Europe sanctions its trade with Russia due to war.
Mark Galleoti (11 Nov 2022) Opinion: Putin can cling on to power, but his legend is dead "Multiple security forces balance each other: in Moscow, for example, the military garrison, a special division of the National Guard and the Kremlin Regiment, all report to different chains of command. The Federal Security Service watches all three – and the Federal Protection Service in turn watch them".