The US military on Tuesday issued its first new statement of strategy in seven years, moving beyond a focus on Afghanistan to address the rise of China and other challenges.
This year’s US national military strategy by the Joint Chiefs of Staff reaffirmed the US’ commitment to fighting violent extremism with allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said the military must broaden its horizons to address developing threats elsewhere.
“While we continue to refine how we counter violent extremism and deter aggression, this strategy also rightly emphasizes that our military power is most effective when employed in concert with other elements of power,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen wrote in his “Chairman’s Corner” blog.
The strategy is a broad statement on how the military intends to use its forces and prioritize aid and training to help achieve US security goals.
US military officials say a “whole-of-nation” approach involving not only security forces, but diplomacy and non-governmental organizations will be necessary to address future security challenges.
“This whole-of-nation approach to foreign policy, with civilian leadership appropriately at the helm, will be essential as we address the complex security challenges before us,” Mullen said.
While the last national military strategy, produced in 2004, called for the military to protect the US, prevent surprise attacks and prevail against adversaries, the current document goes beyond that.
In addition to countering violent extremism and deterring aggression, this year’s strategy seeks to strengthen global security through regional and international partnerships and aims to reshape the military to meet future challenges.
“We focus more toward the future and strengthening global and regional stability and shaping the future force,” a senior military officer said on condition of anonymity.
The national military strategy addresses in broad general terms how military forces will be used. By law it must be reviewed every two years, but it is not necessarily revised unless changes are needed.
The senior military officer said the security environment facing the US had changed substantially since the 2004 strategy was issued.
The US faces a broad range of challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, from the rise of India and China, to North Korea’s nuclear program, the shifting global economic balance and a fierce competition for natural resources, he said.
The strategy calls for improving global security by forging deeper military-to-military relationships and cooperation with China and other Asia-Pacific countries.
The senior officer said the US military had to “achieve our mission” in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also must look beyond those conflicts and “start recognizing that the strategic environment that’s elsewhere needs to be dealt with.”