U.S. National Defense Strategy
On January 19, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced the first U.S. National Defense Strategy in a decade. The strategy builds on President Trump's National Security Strategy, which was released in December 2017. "Terrorism remains a persistent condition driven by ideology and unstable political and economic structures, despite the defeat of ISIS's physical caliphate," the unclassified summary said. Mattis discussed it at an event at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. The following is a video of Mattis' remarks from Johns Hopkins University and excerpts from the summary.
We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.
Despite the defeat of ISIS’s physical caliphate, threats to stability remain as terrorist groups with long reach continue to murder the innocent and threaten peace more broadly.
In the Middle East, Iran is competing with its neighbors, asserting an arc of influence and instability while vying for regional hegemony, using state-sponsored terrorist activities, a growing network of proxies, and its missile program to achieve its objectives.
States are the principal actors on the global stage, but non-state actors also threaten the security environment with increasingly sophisticated capabilities. Terrorists, trans-national criminal organizations, cyber hackers and other malicious non-state actors have transformed global affairs with increased capabilities of mass disruption. There is a positive side to this as well, as our partners in sustaining security are also more than just nation-states: multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, corporations, and strategic influencers provide opportunities for collaboration and partnership. Terrorism remains a persistent condition driven by ideology and unstable political and economic structures, despite the defeat of ISIS’s physical caliphate.
It is now undeniable that the homeland is no longer a sanctuary. America is a target, whether from terrorists seeking to attack our citizens; malicious cyber activity against personal, commercial, or government infrastructure; or political and information subversion. New threats to commercial and military uses of space are emerging, while increasing digital connectivity of all aspects of life, business, government, and military creates significant vulnerabilities. During conflict, attacks against our critical defense, government, and economic infrastructure must be anticipated.
Terrorists likewise continue to pursue WMD, while the spread of nuclear weapon technology and advanced manufacturing technology remains a persistent problem. Recent advances in bioengineering raise another concern, increasing the potential, variety, and ease of access to biological weapons.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE OBJECTIVES
In support of the National Security Strategy, the Department of Defense will be prepared to defend the homeland, remain the preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balances of power remain in our favor, and advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity.
Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department, and require both increased and sustained investment, because of the magnitude of the threats they pose to U.S. security and prosperity today, and the potential for those threats to increase in the future. Concurrently, the Department will sustain its efforts to deter and counter rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran, defeat terrorist threats to the United States, and consolidate our gains in Iraq and Afghanistan while moving to a more resource-sustainable approach.
Defense objectives include:
- Defending the homeland from attack;
- Sustaining Joint Force military advantages, both globally and in key regions;
- Deterring adversaries from aggression against our vital interests;
- Enabling U.S. interagency counterparts to advance U.S. influence and interests;
- Maintaining favorable regional balances of power in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere;
- Defending allies from military aggression and bolstering partners against coercion, and fairly sharing responsibilities for common defense;
- Dissuading, preventing, or deterring state adversaries and non-state actors from acquiring, proliferating, or using weapons of mass destruction;
- Preventing terrorists from directing or supporting external operations against the United States homeland and our citizens, allies, and partners overseas;
- Ensuring common domains remain open and free;
- Continuously delivering performance with affordability and speed as we change Departmental mindset, culture, and management systems; and
- Establishing an unmatched twenty-first century National Security Innovation Base that effectively supports Department operations and sustains security and solvency.
Foster a competitive mindset. To succeed in the emerging security environment, our Department and Joint Force will have to out-think, out-maneuver, out-partner, and out-innovate revisionist powers, rogue regimes, terrorists, and other threat actors.
Build a More Lethal Force
Prioritize preparedness for war. Achieving peace through strength requires the Joint Force to deter conflict through preparedness for war. During normal day-to-day operations, the Joint Force will sustainably compete to: deter aggression in three key regions—the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and Middle East; degrade terrorist and WMD threats; and defend U.S. interests from challenges below the level of armed conflict. In wartime, the fully mobilized Joint Force will be capable of: defeating aggression by a major power; deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere; and disrupting imminent terrorist and WMD threats. During peace or in war, the Joint Force will deter nuclear and non-nuclear strategic attacks and defend the homeland. To support these missions, the Joint Force must gain and maintain information superiority; and develop, strengthen, and sustain U.S. security relationships.
Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners
Our allies and partners came to our aid after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and have contributed to every major U.S.-led military engagement since. Every day, our allies and partners join us in defending freedom, deterring war, and maintaining the rules which underwrite a free and open international order.
Fortify the Trans-Atlantic NATO Alliance. A strong and free Europe, bound by shared principles of democracy, national sovereignty, and commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is vital to our security. The alliance will deter Russian adventurism, defeat terrorists who seek to murder innocents, and address the arc of instability building on NATO’s periphery.
Form enduring coalitions in the Middle East. We will foster a stable and secure Middle East that denies safe havens for terrorists, is not dominated by any power hostile to the United States, and that contributes to stable global energy markets and secure trade routes. We will develop enduring coalitions to consolidate gains we have made in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, to support the lasting defeat of terrorists as we sever their sources of strength and counterbalance Iran.
Support relationships to address significant terrorist threats in Africa. We will bolster existing bilateral and multilateral partnerships and develop new relationships to address significant terrorist threats that threaten U.S. interests and contribute to challenges in Europe and the Middle East. We will focus on working by, with, and through local partners and the European Union to degrade terrorists; build the capability required to counter violent extremism, human trafficking, trans-national criminal activity, and illegal arms trade with limited outside assistance; and limit the malign influence of non-African powers.
Click here to read the full summary.
Click here to read excerpts from Trump's National Security Strategy.
"The Islamists" is a book and website on the origins, evolution, and positions of Islamist movements in the Middle East. The movements are redefining the order and borders in the world’s most volatile region. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals. Read more