February 9, 2011 / 12:29 AM / 9 years ago

New military strategy looks beyond Afghan war

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The military on Tuesday issued its first new statement of strategy in seven years, moving beyond a focus on the war in Afghanistan to address the rise of China and other strategic challenges.

A U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the USS George Washington for joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea in South Korea's East Sea, July 26, 2010. REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool

The 2011 national military strategy by the Joint Chiefs of Staff reaffirmed U.S. commitment to fighting violent extremism with allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan but said the military must broaden its horizons to address developing threats elsewhere.

“While we continue to refine how we counter violent extremism and deter aggression, this strategy also rightly emphasizes that our military power is most effective when employed in concert with other elements of power,” Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in his “Chairman’s Corner” blog.

The strategy is a broad statement on how the military intends to use its forces and prioritize aid and training to help achieve U.S. security goals.

Military officials say a “whole-of-nation” approach involving not only security forces but diplomacy and nongovernmental organizations will be necessary to address many future security challenges.

“This whole-of-nation approach to foreign policy, with civilian leadership appropriately at the helm, will be essential as we address the complex security challenges before us,” Mullen said.

While the last national military strategy, produced in 2004, called for the military to protect the United States, prevent surprise attacks and prevail against adversaries, the current document goes beyond that.

In addition to countering violent extremism and deterring aggression, the 2011 strategy seeks to strengthen global security through regional and international partnerships and aims to reshape the military force to meet future challenges.

“We focus more toward the future and strengthening global and regional stability and shaping the future force,” a senior military officer said on condition of anonymity.

The national military strategy addresses in broad general terms how the military forces will be used. By law it must be reviewed every two years, but it is not necessarily revised unless changes are needed.

The senior military officer said the security environment facing the United States had changed substantially in seven years since the 2004 strategy was issued.

The United States faces a broad range of challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, from the rise of India and China, to North Korea’s nuclear program, the shifting global economic balance and a fierce competition for natural resources, he said.

The strategy calls for improving global security by forging deeper military-to-military relationships and cooperation with China and other Asia-Pacific countries.

The senior officer said the U.S. military had to “achieve our mission” in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also must look beyond those conflicts and “start recognizing that the strategic environment that’s elsewhere needs to be dealt with.”

Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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