The National Defense Strategy Commission was tasked by Congess to give an Independent, non-partisan review of the Trump administration’s defence strategy.
It was chaired by Eric Edelman, a former Pentagon official in George W Bush’s administration, and Admiral Gary Roughead, a former chief of naval operations. These are insiders who know their way around a defence budget, as well as the corridors of the Pentagon.
“The security and wellbeing of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades,” the report asserts. “America’s military superiority has eroded to a dangerous degree.”
President Trump’s arrival in office coincides with a far-reaching shift in US military priorities – away from counter-insurgency operations and the war on terror, towards a new focus on potential conflict against so-called peer competitors like Russia or China.
Even non-peer competitors like Iran and North Korea are presenting new and dangerous challenges.
The implications are enormous for the US military. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, they have been operating in environments with no threat to US forces from the air, and no significant challenges (beyond geography) to their ability to communicate, to use GPS and so on.
“The global role the United States has played for many generations rests upon a foundation of unmatched military power,” its report says.
“Today however, our margin of superiority is profoundly diminished in key areas.”
“There are,” the study insists, “urgent challenges that must be addressed if the United States is to avoid lasting damage to its national security.”
Meanwhile potential opponents – like China and Russia – have been studying the US military and continuing to modernize their own forces building both on their traditional strengths while also exploring ways of countering the US in areas where it was once dominant.
Indeed, Moscow’s intervention in the war in Ukraine demonstrated the extraordinary destructive power of Russian artillery linked to sophisticated electronic warfare capabilities, both to find, fix and destroy Ukrainian armour and also to mask the location of Russian forces.
In many of these areas the US has a lot of catching up to do. That means retraining and re-equipping, but it is much broader than that. It requires a massive effort to bolster innovation and to forge ahead with key technologies – artificial intelligence, next generation broadband networks and so on – that may provide a key element of superiority on a future battlefield.
Do you still believe in America’s security?