Terrorism no longer the military's top priority, Mattis says

Calvin Saunders
January 23, 2018

The new strategy also departs from some of Trump's own past rhetoric, including his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and skepticism about North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, although it matches his years of warnings about American power being in decline.

Perhaps not. A number of polls conducted over the past year show that Americans remain deeply concerned about the threat posed by global terrorism, while they appear to be underwhelmed by the risks posed by a rising China or a belligerent Russian Federation.

"Iran continues to sow violence and remains the most significant challenge to Middle East stability".

The strategy notes that "North Korea seeks to guarantee regime survival and increased leverage by seeking a mixture of nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional, and unconventional weapons and a growing ballistic missile capability to gain coercive influence over South Korea, Japan, and the U.S". "Can't let that happen!"

Mattis' strategy also stresses partnerships with existing allies and attracting new partners, a hard feat for the Pentagon to tackle in Trump's "America first" era.

Pence, speaking to US troops Saturday during a brief refueling stop in Ireland on his way to the Middle East, also took up the cudgel.

Almost all Justice Department employees were to continue working, including most members of the national security division, United States attorneys and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The vice president tweeted photos showing him meeting troops on their way to Kuwait for a six-month deployment.

The targets erected in China's far west include a parked aircraft similar to an American F-22 at Kadena Air Base in southern Japan, hardened aircraft shelters like those at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan and above ground fuel tanks laid out like those at a US military fuel terminal. Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina tweeted that "our courageous military men and women deserve better".

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Meanwhile, as a bill to fund the government through to only February 16 appeared on the verge of collapse in the Senate, the defence secretary had harsh words for Congress and its inability to reach agreement on budgets.

"This is very much like during the cold war time, when every military platform that the U.S. or Soviet Union procured had a direct implication against the other's capabilities, so [the US] is not so much about having a peacetime military any more but one that is to win a war against the Chinese and Russians".

The NDS highlighted new technology emerging, including hypersonics and directed energy, from the military industrial base. And his House counterpart Nancy Pelosi cited earlier comments by Mattis about budget uncertainty hurting the military.

Mattis said that a shutdown would affect many military operations, including training, maintenance, and intelligence gathering.

According to a Pentagon planning memo, all active-duty uniformed personnel are to continue their duties but will not be paid until after the shutdown is resolved.

Any deal to restore funding and reopen the government would nearly assuredly include back pay for troops, meaning they wouldn't see any pay cut if the shutdown is resolved within days.

The new NDS emphasizes three lines of effort to restore a competitive military advantage: building a more lethal force, strengthening traditional alliances and build new partnerships, and reform the Defense Department's business practices "for performance and affordability".

Military leaders hope to benefit from an eventual spending deal for the rest of fiscal 2018 that lawmakers are still negotiating. Added to that is the uncertainty that has plagued the Pentagon's budget since 2011, when mandatory spending caps were put in place. "We need to be as modernized and as capable as possible, just like China feels it has to be", he said.

Mattis' explanation for how to make space more resilient echoes the thinking of other military leaders who have called for the Pentagon to stop using large, expensive spacecraft and instead put up constellations of cheaper small satellites that can be replaced quickly if a conflict erupted and US systems came under attack.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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