Dunford Outlines Military Strategy

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By Debbie Gregory.

Change is coming at strategic levels in the Defense Department, according to Gen. Joseph Dunford , the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The soon-to-be-finalized National Military Strategy will focus on developing international alliances, projecting power to faraway places, and reframing the definition of war to aid in the Defense Department’s planning processes.

The U.S. needs better ways to deal with Russian behavior in Ukraine and Georgia, Iran’s actions across the Middle East, and China’s behavior in the South and East China Seas, Dunford said.

“Each of those nations have leveraged economic and political influence, information operations, unconventional operations and military pressure to advance their national interests,” he added. “I refer to that as adversarial competition that has a military dimension, but falls short of actual conflict.”

The traditional U.S. approach is to think the nation is at peace or at war, but these countries are blurring the lines between peace and war, according to Dunford.

“I like to remind people who have a high level of confidence in assumptions on when, where and how we will fight the next fight … that the Korean War took place right after some of the best strategists that we’ve ever produced as a nation decided to rebalance to Europe,” he said. Military operation plans, therefore, are ill-suited to prepare forces for what defense leaders consider an increasingly complex international security environment, according to Dunford.

A re-evaluation of what constitutes war is necessary because Russian activities in Europe have been carefully orchestrated to fall below the West’s threshold.

Dunford alleged that Moscow was specifically seeking to undermine America’s ability to project power and “the credibility of our alliances” because those two capabilities represent the “centers of gravity” from which the US military draws strength.

“We don’t have mission command today at the strategic level,” he said. “And more importantly, we haven’t set the fundamental conditions that are necessary to establish mission command.”

Previously, the Pentagon’s National Military Strategy documents have been released publicly, but the new version will be classified. The documents are waiting for approval from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

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