The Pentagon issued a new U.S. National Defense Strategy Thursday,
emphasizing the need for the U.S. military, and the entire government,
to be prepared to fight global terrorism and related small-scale
conflicts like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new strategy
updates a document issued in 2005 under then-Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.
National Defense Strategy says the U.S. military needs to be prepared
to fight a variety of adversaries, current and potential. But the
emphasis of the document reflects two themes Defense Secretary Robert
Gates has been promoting since he took office a year and a half ago -
the need to maintain and improve the ability to fight insurgencies and
the need to bring all aspects of government power to bear in the
effort, not just the military.
firmly believe that in the years ahead, our military is much more
likely to engage in asymmetric conflict than conventional conflict
against a rising state power," Gates explained at a news conference on Thursday. "We must be ready for both
kinds of conflict, and fund the capabilities to do both."
"There is no
doubt in my mind that the modernization programs will continue to have
strong institutional and congressional support. I just want to make
sure that the capabilities we need for the conflicts we're in, and most
likely to face in the foreseeable future, also are sustained long-term," he added.
strategy document identifies al-Qaida and related groups as "a complex
and urgent challenge" against which the United States is likely to
fight "an extended series of campaigns." It says the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan are "central fronts in the struggle," but are only part of
a broader "Long War."
The document says the Untied States must have a
"mastery" of the type of warfare such a war requires, just as it has a
strong capability in traditional warfare. It says defeating violent
extremism is the "central objective" of the United States because it
threatens the U.S. "way of life as a free and open society."
document says the fight is not only military, but also requires "all
elements of national power," and partnerships with old and new allies.
It says the "prolonged irregular campaign" is a "clash of arms" but
also "a war of ideas," and it will require increased U.S. assistance to
help a variety of nations keep extremists out through improved
security, better governance and increased economic opportunities for
At the same time, the new U.S. National Defense
Strategy says the United States must maintain its ability to deter or
defeat what it calls "rogue nations," specifically mentioning Iran and
North Korea. And it says the U.S. military must be prepared for
potential threats from "more powerful states," such as China and
Russia. But Secretary Gates says the United States is also working to
improve relations with those two countries.
"I don't see either
nation as a threat to the United States at this point," he said. "But
they both are investing in modernization programs that are of concern."
strategy document says the U.S. Defense Department "will respond to
China's expanding military power, and to the uncertainties over how it
might be used." It says that response will involve engagement with
China, as well as improving specific U.S. military capabilities to
balance China's military modernization. It calls for China to be more
transparent about its military spending and intentions.
document accuses Russia of a "retreat from democracy," and of
"increasing economic and political intimidation of its neighbors." It
says Russia is not expected "to revert to outright global military
confrontation, but the risk of miscalculation or conflict arising out
of economic coercion has increased." It endorses U.S. cooperation with
Russia on a variety of world issues.
The document also warns of
new threats to U.S. national security, including attacks by "disruptive
technologies" and efforts to use mass communications to manipulate
global public opinion. It also says the increasing world demand for
energy and economic development, and even problems related to climate
change, could pose security challenges in the coming years.