Aerospace & Defense

US Defense Department Updates National Military Strategy

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For the first time since 2011, the U.S. Department of Defense has updated its National Military Strategy. The document, which describes how the United States will use its military forces to “protect and advance” the country’s national interests, was released to the public last week.

The 17-page report calls out four nations that the Pentagon believes are trying to change “key aspects of the international order” and acting in a manner that threatens U.S. national security interests: Russia, Iran, North Korea and China.

While Russia has made certain contributions in the fights against narcotics and terrorism, “it has also repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals.” Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology “poses strategic challenges to the international community.” North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile technology ignores “repeated demands” to stop these efforts, and some of China’s actions “are adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region.”

At the same time that the United States faces challenges from other nations, the national strategy document warns that violent extremist organizations are attempting to “undermine transregional security, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. A U.S. strategy needs to address both challenges.

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As outlined, three objectives comprise the strategy:

  • Deter, deny and defeat state adversaries.
  • Disrupt, degrade and defeat violent extremist organizations.
  • Strengthen the nation’s global network of allies and partners.

To achieve these objectives takes money:

We will not realize the goals of this 2015 National Military Strategy without sufficient resources. Like those that came before it, this strategy assumes a commitment to projecting global influence, supporting allies and partners, and maintaining the All-Volunteer Force. To execute this strategy, the U.S. military requires a sufficient level of investment in capacity, capabilities, and readiness so that when our Nation calls, our military remains ready to deliver success.

U.S. defense spending in fiscal year 2015 will total nearly $600 billion, including war spending. The fiscal year 2016 defense budget has yet to be approved, but it was once expected to rise by $38 billion, a total that includes war spending. In theory, defense spending is capped by the Budget Control Act of 2011 at around $496 billion. How Congress may get around that is by assigning some budget items to the Overseas Contingency Operations budget, although that appears unlikely at this point.

The full National Military Strategy document is available here.

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