Saturday, 20 October, 2018

USA security focus no longer terrorism, says defence secretary

New Pentagon strategy takes aim at Russia, China President Trump's New Defense Strategy Is a Return to the Cold War
Jay Anderson | 20 January, 2018, 08:53

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis walks past saluting cadets as he arrives for commencement ceremonies at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, U.S., May 27, 2017.

"Though we will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of USA national security", the secretary said.

"Obviously we don't live in 1999 anymore", Elbridge Colby, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, told reporters, highlighting how the USA no longer maintains as much of a military advantage over its rivals as it once did.

"We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great power competition - not terrorism - is now the primary focus of USA national security", Mattis said in prepared remarks released by the Pentagon.

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.

Mattis also said that America's allies must contribute as much to security as the USA does and that the United States can not shoulder a disproportionate share of the security burden.

Global alliances are also highlighted as a key piece of the strategy, but Mattis said burden-sharing would be needed.

The document is likely to be greeted warmly by those interested in spending more money on the military and skeptically by those who note the Pentagon often puts together new documents outlining strategy, only to disregard them later.

Mattis, speaking during a question and answer period following a speech, said he would leave this weekend for a trip to Indonesia and Vietnam.




In his speech, Mattis signaled that the U.S. Defense Department was shifting away from a focus on terrorism, which has preoccupied U.S. planners for some 17 years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Nonetheless, Mattis' strategy emphasizes the need to seek "peace through strength" and find opportunities to cooperate with both nations.

The Trump administration released its "America First" security strategy in December, which called for "u$3 nleashing these abundant energy resources- coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear" to boost the economy and aid US allies.

"To those who would threaten America's experiment in democracy: if you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day", Mattis said. "At the same time, we'll reform our department's business practices for performance and affordability", the secretary said. "It'll impact obviously our medical facilities", Mattis said. Work with our diplomats: "You don't want to fight the Department of Defense". Mattis envisions a force that would be flexible and capable of acting and reacting swiftly and decisively.

"We're open for dialogue, we're prepared to discuss military doctrines", he added. "Loyalty must be a two-way street".

Globally, the strategy review represents a toughening resolve by the Trump administration to address challenges from Russian Federation and China, despite the president's calls for improved ties with Moscow and Beijing.

"Yet as I stand here this morning, watching the news, as we all are, from Capitol Hill, we're on the verge of a government shutdown or, at best, yet another debilitating continuing resolution", he said.

Mattis had harsh words for the US Congress and its inability to reach agreement on budgets.

"To address the scope and pace of our competitors" and adversaries' ambitions and capabilities, we must invest in modernisation capabilities through sustained, predictable budgets, ' it added.

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