Saturday, June 11, 2011

US' National Military Strategy 2011

I should have got this post earlier ... better late than never. The US released its National Military Strategy (NMS) on February 08, 2011. The document, released by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an update in seven years, has a lot of focus on Asia. This is no surprise given that this century is acknowledged as the Asian century. Asia is also at the centre for a variety of reasons -- economic growth, terrorism, proliferation of dangerous technologies or resource crunch or climate change woes.

Looking at Asia, detailed assessments and strategies are provided particularly for the war against terror in Afghanistan, the ongoing war in Iraq and China.

Asia has clearly overtaken Europe as the US priority area. The NMS states, "The Nation’s strategic priorities and interests will increasingly emanate from the Asia-Pacific region. The region's share of global wealth is growing, enabling increased military capabilities. This is causing the region’s security architecture to change rapidly, creating new challenges and opportunities for our national security and leadership. Though still underpinned by the US bilateral alliance system, Asia's security architecture is becoming a more complex mix of formal and informal multilateral relationships and expanded bilateral security ties among states."

The challenges faced in the domain of global commons -- air, sea, cyberspace -- is another area that has been paid sufficient attention in the NMS. It states, "Assured access to and freedom of maneuver within the global commons – shared areas of sea, air, and space – and globally connected domains such as cyberspace are being increasingly challenged by both state and non-state actors. States are developing anti-access and area-denial capabilities and strategies to constrain US and international freedom of action. These states are rapidly acquiring technologies, such as missiles and autonomous and remotely-piloted platforms that challenge our ability to project power from the global commons and increase our operational risk. Meanwhile, enabling and war-fighting domains of space and cyberspace are simultaneously more critical for our operations, yet more vulnerable to malicious actions. The space environment is becoming more congested, contested, and competitive. Some states are conducting or condoning cyber intrusions that foreshadow the growing threat in this globally connected domain." At the other end of it, "Non-state actors such as criminal organizations, traffickers, and terrorist groups find a nexus of interests in exploiting the commons."

As for the war against terror in Afghanistan, the NMS states, "The Nation’s strategic objective in this campaign is to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaida and its affiliates in Afghanistan and Pakistan and prevent their return to either country. Success requires the Joint Force to closely work with NATO, our coalition partners, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. We will continue to erode Taliban influence, work with the Afghan government to facilitate reintegration and reconciliation of former insurgents, continue to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces, and enable Pakistan to ultimately defeat al Qaida and its extremist allies." The document also notes that "The threat of violent extremism is not limited to South Central Asia. Groups such as Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Shabaab, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and others emanate from Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere around the globe. Terrorists’ abilities to remotely plan and coordinate attacks is growing, sometimes facilitated by global illicit trafficking routes, extending their operational reach while rendering targeting of their sanctuaries more difficult."

The NMS also notes while military strategy can be decisive, there has to be long-term viable strategies wherein "Military power complements economic development, governance, and rule of law – the true bedrocks of counterterrorism efforts. In the long run, violent ideologies are ultimately discredited and defeated when a secure population chooses to reject extremism and violence in favor of more peaceful pursuits."

On China, the NMS states the US objectives thus: "Our Nation seeks a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China that welcomes it to take on a responsible leadership role. To support this, the Joint Force seeks a deeper military-to-military relationship with China to expand areas of mutual interest and benefit, improve understanding, reduce misperception, and prevent miscalculation. We will promote common interests through China’s cooperation in countering piracy and proliferation of WMD, and using its influence with North Korea to preserve stability on the Korean peninsula." Having said that, there are issues of concern such as the military modernisation and some of the evolving strategies which are not conducive for a stable Asia. The NMS details to say, "We will continue to monitor carefully China’s military developments and the implications those developments have on the military balance in the Taiwan Strait. We remain concerned about the extent and strategic intent of China’s military modernization, and its assertiveness in space, cyberspace, in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. To safeguard U.S. and partner nation interests, we will be prepared to demonstrate the will and commit the resources needed to oppose any nation’s actions that jeopardize access to and use of the global commons and cyberspace, or that threaten the security of our allies."

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