Today at the Pentagon, President Obama, Defense Secretary Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey laid out a new military strategy for the 21st Century that will move beyond the costly nation building enterprises such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and shift the U.S. military’s focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
While Obama noted that the strategy calls for a “leaner” military, he, Panetta and Dempsey assured that the United States will still be able to confront multiple military challenges around the globe simultaneously. And presuming to be responding to right-wing critics that the U.S. is not spending enough on the military, the president noted that in ten years, the U.S. will still spend more than the next several countries combined:
OBAMA: Over the past 10 years since 9/11, our defense budget grew at an extraordinary pace. Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow but the fact of the matter is this, it will still grow because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership. In fact the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration. …
PANETTA: Make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time. …
DEMPSEY: There has been much made and I’m sure there will be made about whether this strategy moves away from a force structure explicitly designed to fight and win two wars simultaneously. Fundamentally, our strategy has always been about our ability to respond to global contingencies where ever and whenever they occur. This won’t change. … We can and will always be able to do more than one thing at a time. More importantly, wherever we are confronted and in whatever sequence, we will win. … I’m pleased with the outcome. … and I’m hear today to assure you that it has real buy-in among our senior military and civilian leadership.
Watch clips of their comments:
While Dempsey noted that the new strategy won’t change the military’s ability to fight multiple wars at the same time, the National Security Network’s Heather Hurlburt writes that this so-called two war strategy “hasn’t been true, or truly doctrine, for a long time.”
“If it were a strategy, it doesn’t describe any strategy or capability we’ve had for decades,” says defense budget expert Winslow Wheeler. “People who declare coming off the two MRC [Major Regional Conflicts] ‘strategy’ as unraveling our defenses (eg. Dov Zakheim) are dilettantes.”