Thursday June 10, 2021
New priorities in the Pentagon
US puts military focus on China
From the US perspective, China is the number one geopolitical challenge. In the Pentagon, however, there is negligence in this regard, complains a panel of experts. The host Austin is therefore turning the defense strategy against the People’s Republic upside down.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has officially ordered his agency to focus more on China. The policy will “revitalize our network of allies and partners, strengthen deterrence and accelerate the development of new operational concepts, new capabilities, future armed forces and a modernized civil and military workforce,” said Austin. His initiative is part of “the US government’s larger approach to China.” The details of the internal order to the Department of Defense remain secret.
The initiative followed an evaluation by an expert commission set up under the new US President Joe Biden in February. The task of the panel was to examine the Pentagon’s strategy towards China. A senior Defense Department official said the experts identified a “gap” between stated priorities and what was actually happening.
The Pentagon had already identified the People’s Republic as an important strategic competitor in its 2018 national defense strategy. The experts found, however, that not much has been done since then to address the problems emanating from Beijing. China is now seen as the greatest strategic rival.
The US Department of Defense had largely focused on the fight against jihadist forces in the Middle East over the past two decades. The US will continue to maintain a significant military presence in the Middle East even after it has begun withdrawing its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan.
Dealing with China’s state-of-the-art armed forces poses entirely different challenges. The US military is currently keen to expand its presence in the Pacific. China is also becoming increasingly aggressive in the region, including against Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province.