Mattis: Defence plan focus on Russia, China, not terror

Posted January 23, 2018

Mattis said that the United States will "continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists" such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but noted that "great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of US national security".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a memo released by the Pentagon on Saturday that the US military will continue to carry out operations across the world, but the shutdown already was prompting the cancellation or delay of training for reserve units and was having other effects.

"Sharpening the American Military's Competitive Edge" - pretty much sums up the tone that has been set by Secretary Jim Mattis.

"This required tough choices - and we made them", he said, "based upon a fundamental precept: namely, that American can afford survival".

The strategy expands the USA military's competitive space, prioritizes preparedness for war, provides clear direction for significant change at the speed of relevance and builds a more lethal force to compete strategically.

The document said that worldwide alliances would be critical for the USA military, by far the world's best-resourced.

The defense document is the first since 2014 and the first of President Donald Trump's administration. The strategy bluntly warns of a world in which the United States is no longer the hegemonic power, leading to "eroding cohesion among allies and partners, and reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living".

"It is regrettable that instead of having a normal dialogue, instead of using the basis of worldwide law, the USA is striving to prove their leadership through such confrontational strategies and concepts", he told reporters at the United Nations headquarters, in NY, on Friday.

A summary of the new strategy was published on the defence department's website.

"It is regrettable that instead of having a normal dialogue, instead of using the basis of global law, the striving to prove their leadership through such confrontational strategies and concepts", Lavrov said. Allied countries are supposed to become more "interoperable" with U.S. forces by purchasing USA weapons and equipment and engaging in joint training exercises.

A government shutdown looks likely as Senate Democrats try and hold out for a bill protecting children brought to the USA illegally - known as Dreamers - while some Republicans say they will not support a short-term spending measure.

Susanna Blume, who was a Pentagon official at the time of the last shutdown in 2013, said Pentagon leaders may not actually know that number, because decisions about which civilian employees will stay home are often delegated down the bureaucracy, and the roster of furloughed personnel can change day to day given work requirements.

Beijing is accused of seeking "Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future", while Moscow "seeks veto authority over nations on its periphery", opposes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and wants to "change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor".

He called China and Russian Federation "revisionist powers", saying that both are seeking to establish "a world consistent with their authoritarian models".

The strategy also involves strengthening alliances through burden sharing.

The United States is spending US$587.8 billion per year on its military, China US$161.7 billion and Russia US$44.6 billion.

She stressed that China "steadfastly adheres to the peaceful path of development, the defensive nature of its national defense policy, the establishment of peace throughout the world". US troops are paid twice a month, and the next check is expected February 1.

The blueprint sends a strong signal the Trump administration is committed to maintaining the military balance of power, as Colby put, in "the key regions that we've been in since the late 1940s" - including in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The eleven-page document also said the Defense Department will sustain efforts to deter and counter rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran.

"This is definitely not a pivot strategy in the sense of pivoting away from the Middle East or something like that", Colby explained.

He added: "The secretary also believes that we've been in strategy free environment for a long time".

The strategy diagnoses what it calls a "resilient, but weakening, post-WWII worldwide order".