Mattis: Countering China, Russia Now Top US Defense Priority

22 January, 2018, 01:40 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • US shutdown extended

The Defense Department will continue its mission to defend the people of the United States, American allies and US vital interests around the world during the government shutdown that began at midnight, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said in a memo.

Conversely, the Democrats have charged that Trump and congressional Republicans are attempting to hold hostage the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, under which about 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children can get permission to work and go to school in the U.S.

The new national security strategy is the latest of what has been called the Quadrennial Defense Review.

The 11-page unclassified version released to reporters on Thursday lays out the world's threats as the Trump administration sees them.

"This strategy is fit for our time-providing the American people the military required to protect our way of life, stand with our allies, and live up to our responsibility to pass intact to the next generation those freedoms we enjoy today", he said.

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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.

The two countries reacted furiously to Trump's security strategy, with Beijing accusing Washington of having a "Cold War mentality" while Moscow denounced its "imperialist character".

This then should make for the kind of targeted spending on defense related space technology such as pursued by the USA after the shock Soviet launch of Sputnik, the world's first man-made satellite, in 1957.

Mattis said the Defense Department will also focus on working with allies who "carry their equitable share" of the security burden while building new partnerships across the globe. It is doing unnecessary harm to the US military. To wit: China's rapidly modernized its force to beat US weapons and challenge the USA economically. The entire global order is "resilient, but weakening", it warns.

"We are going to build a more lethal force".

Even with declining force-sizing constructs, USA forces have largely continued to do all that they have done under previous super-sized strategies.

The use of emerging technologies to discredit and subvert democratic processes in Georgia, Crimea, and eastern Ukraine is concern enough, but when coupled with its expanding and modernising nuclear arsenal the challenge is clear, the strategy said. "This outlook makes the Trump administration popular in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UAE".

What's unclear is just how different these views are from the ones Pentagon leaders held last week or a year ago, before Trump's team arrived. Maintaining a military advantage over China and Russian Federation is now Defense Secretary Mattis' top priority. Colby insisted that because Pentagon leaders had gone through the exercise to produce their strategy, it was "already bearing fruit". For example, the sustained use of naval aviation to provide fire support to counterterror fights in the Middle East that could be resourced with light attack aircraft or artillery is expensive and ties up increasingly scarce aircraft carriers better employed elsewhere, particularly in Asia.

"No, I don't think so", he replied. Clearly the technological supremacy that the USA once enjoyed over all potential strategic rivals has been eroded with China's rapid progress in both rocketry and application of information technology, and the revival of Russian investment in strategic arms. Mattis has urged USA lawmakers to avoid the shut-down, commenting on the recent standoff in the country's government over the adoption of the short-term budget to prevent government shutdown.



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