Plan for 'leaner' US military unveiled

2012-01-06 08:13

Washington - President Barack Obama unveiled a strategy on Thursday for a leaner US military focused on countering China's rising power and signalling a shift away from large ground wars against insurgents.

The plan calls for preparing for possible challenges from Iran and China, requiring air and naval power, while virtually ruling out any future counter-insurgency campaigns such as those conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The "defence strategic review" sets out an approach for the US military in a looming era of austerity, as Obama's administration prepares for $487bn in defence cuts over the next 10 years.

But the US president, anticipating attacks from his Republican rivals in an election year, said reductions would be limited and would not come at the expense of America's military might.

"So yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know - the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats," Obama told reporters in a rare appearance at the Pentagon.

White House officials said Obama was deeply involved in the strategy review and sought to portray the president as taking a careful approach to defence spending, based on the advice of leading commanders.

Saying the country was "turning the page on a decade of war", Obama said the new strategy would increasingly focus on Asia, where commanders worry about China's growing military power.

"We'll be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region," he said.

Smaller and leaner force

Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, appearing with Obama along with top officers, said the strategy envisages a "smaller and leaner" force that will expand the military's role in Asia while maintaining a strong presence in the Middle East.

According to the eight-page strategy document, the military will work with allies in the Middle East to ensure security in the Gulf and prevent Iran from securing nuclear weapons.

However, counter-insurgency operations receive a lower priority under the plan, enabling the administration to scale back ground forces.

Panetta said "with the end of US military commitments in Iraq, and the drawdown already under way in Afghanistan, the Army and Marine Corps will no longer need to be sized to support the large scale, long-term stability operations that dominated military priorities and force generation over the past decade".

The US military's top officer, General Martin Dempsey, praised the strategy but acknowledged it carried some risks, which could in some cases mean a slower response or fewer resources for an operation.

"We do accept some risk, as all strategies must. Because we will be somewhat smaller, these risks will be measured in time and capacity," the general said.

But he said the country faced "tough economic times" and had to adapt to new threats.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, hit out at the strategy and accused Obama of gutting defence.

"The President has packaged our retreat from the world in the guise of a new strategy to mask his divestment of our military and national defence," McKeon, a Republican, said in a statement.

The review reinforces what defence officials have already signalled - that funds will flow to aircraft, ships, missile defence and high-tech weaponry while the US Army and Marine Corps will be downsized.

Defence budget

Washington's focus on Asia is fuelled by concerns over China's growing navy and arsenal of anti-ship missiles that could jeopardise America's military dominance in the Pacific.

In keeping with plans for a smaller force, the strategy discards the doctrine that the military must be prepared to fight two wars at the same time, an idea long debated inside the Pentagon.

Instead, the United States would be ready to fight one war while waging a holding action elsewhere to stave off a second threat.

The strategy review suggests reducing the atomic arsenal without saying how, amid calls from some lawmakers to reduce the number of nuclear-armed submarines.

The review also hints at scaling back the military's footprint in Europe but offered no details, saying "our posture in Europe must also evolve".

Britain's defence minister cautioned on Thursday the US pivot to Asia should not neglect Russia, which he called an unpredictable force on the global stage.

The new strategy comes ahead of the proposed defence budget for 2013 due to be released next month, which is expected to call for delays in some weapons programs, including the troubled F-35 fighter.

Despite talk of belt-tightening, the defence budget for 2012 came to $530bn, not counting the cost of the war in Afghanistan.

Obama said future military spending will still remain high and "larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined".

  • Graziella - 2012-01-06 08:34

    Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire. Amerikans believe in their exceptionalism, i.e. a god given right to be succesfull, they don't like competition. The regime change in Lybia, agrression towards Iran, deployment of US troops in Kenya and Uganda, agitation towards Sudan, increasing of the terrorist rhetoric in Nigeria are all aimed at counterring China's influence in the various regions and preventing China from access to resources so that it wouldn't grow economically. I am not completely happy with the Chinese model of development for Africa, but what China offers to Africa is great deal better than the naked militarism of the United States and the endemic European model of dependency, corruption and humiliation. I'm proud of what China has achieved and I'm proud that there are more and more people standing up to the Anglo-Saxon vice like grip on the world for the last 200 years.

      Werner - 2012-01-06 08:45

      Proud of China? Were you depraved of oxygen as a baby? You guys always just look at the short term scraps China gives you. And i'll bet you actually believe the BS that communism is the answer?

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 09:17

      No wonder there is so much misunderstanding among fools like you about China. It is quite naive to think 1.3 billion people are easily fooled as you are by a party or two with its organisations at all levels or millitary or police that our so called democracy resort to, but it is the policies which are popular and proved to be correct that plays the part. That is the secret that the communist party stays on. China treats Africa as a potential growth partner, not as some sad sodden has-been to be saved. The savior complex has wrecked Africa. We can only hope that a re-emergence of a multipolar world will curb America's worst excesses and that China's relative isolationism will keep her at home. I'm sure the right wingers will be on in force trying to pin it up as the next evil. But I don't see China criticising everyone and starting wars all around the world for the last 50 years, so they can suck up resources, sell weapons to whomever than some time later invading them to install oppressive governments for further exploitation from US corporate interests.

      spartanx93 - 2012-01-06 09:41

      Shame Graziella... Just because your people incapable of their own development and rely on other nations to do their bidding. The West foresaw the incompetence of Africa, the Chinese are only exploiting what the West did not. China will still shaft Africa at the end of the day, so don't think for 1 second China is here to help you..... Cause they are not!!

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 09:58

      The Chinese are investing in Africa. The motivation is self interest but the relationship is more co-operative. The trouble with you "Westerners/agents" is that you think you have the right to stick your noses anywhere in the world and expect the rest of the world to live up to "your values" - which you have never lived up to! The Chinese have built so many roads, schools, hospitals, railroad, apartment houses, stadiums, tele-communication system and I don't know whom these projects benefit if not African people. You can criticize what the Chinese are doing if you yourself have any better ideas. The Western model does not have any better ideas. Instead, it has a decades-long record of dismal failure. China owes no favours to the West and neither does Africa.

      spartanx93 - 2012-01-06 10:42

      Unfortunately the co-operation only benefits a few elite in corrupt Africa. Yes, the West had built infrastructure in your God forsaken lands but in typical African fashion your people destroyed it. Just like you will do with the Chinese infrastructure once you get the chance. But hey, its African culture to pillage and plunder then beg for free handout from the West.... Oh yes, who is the first to respond to famine relief? The "Agents", not the Chinese nor your other African countries! As they are to self absorbed in enriching themselves.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 10:59

      There's a famous African saying, "All the roads lead to the sea", that's the infrastructure built by westerners to facilitate their economic exploitation of African resources, not to benefit Africans. The aid you refer to is corruption facilitation and is miniscule compared to what the west extracts from the continent. The other gibberish you write is nonsense designed to placate those who live by racial stereotypes regarding Africans. The whitemen had his chance in Africa nad now his influence is gone forever.

      spartanx93 - 2012-01-06 11:28

      You also better take a hard look were Chinese infrastructure heads too. Well if you call feeding millions of Somalians corruption, you have issues. Anyways, I'm over you blinded views and support for a communist country. Go enjoy your wong tong soup.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:06

      Unlike Westerners who just wanted to cart away raw materials, Chinese businesses are building industry locally. Refineries, chemical plants, plastics factories, garment shops, and all the way down to higher efficiency chicken farms and other agricultural projects. There is MASSIVE technology transfer to the Africans, all gratis. No claim of IP, no exobirtant royalties. If the Chinese model for engagement in Africa ends up achieving nothing, but does not result in Africans being reduced to debt slaves, it will still have succeeded a hundred times more than the Western model.

      Jaba - 2012-01-06 13:56

      Chinese businesses are building industry locally???????????? WTF are you smoking graziella

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 14:20

      Locally, meaning the rest of the continent where the Chinese have a pressence there, as compared to carting the materials away to Europe. Despite all that protestation about white men loving all mankind and all, do you see them getting up at 1 am in the morning to sell fat chickens in the market in Africa? The Chinese in Africa are leading by example, NOT the bad example of hiding in air conditioned cabins and living off corruption and the fat of the land, the good example of working a honest day's work for an honest day's pay. There's a lot of wisdom in that.

      Deon - 2012-01-06 16:40

      Chinese people are hard workers and very strict on criminals, killing about 2000 people per year. No one should be poud of China.

  • Koos - 2012-01-06 09:31

    US is the epitome of hypocrisy. Nothing more to be said. They will eventually drown in their own sea of debt.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 10:01

      The US got too greedy and cut the blood supply to its heart just to keep the head working at its fevered pace, then it realised it was too late, the heart was dead and the head followed soon after. Then along came China....

  • Ambrose - 2012-01-06 09:46

    I believe China's rise is inevitable and their policy on "Business is business and politics is politics remains a cause for concern. China's model for development goes beyond human rights and straight to the natural resources that Africa has in its possesion. We have to be holitstic China is no saviour, but do provide opportunities and threats for Africa. We all need to look at the realities that most of our African leaders are dictators or authoritarian regimes. With China at the helm I forsee democracy between states and no longer between the masses who suffer the most. I do not wish to portray America as a Hero. At the end of the day it will depend on Africa how they will engage these emerging powers and the West.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 10:34

      If the govt Chinese happen to deal with is corrupted it is the problem of their own. Why should they elect a corrupted government? Chinese policy of non-interference in other country's internal affairs is well-known and consistant. There is nothing special about China's foreign policy regarding this. Western governments have helped install dictators and despots, and have political and economic alliances with some of them even today. There are as many starving children in China as there are in Africa. So it's up to Africa to practice good governance and promote the best and brightest to negotiate with the Han. I think Africa and Africans can do it, under the ruthless tutelage of the Han. After all, China went through corrupt rule under the Qing Dynasty, foreign invasion and exploitation under the European and Japanese colonial powers, horrible (worse than anything in Africa) governance under Mao Tse Tung, ... if China can pull itself from the dirt and begin to prosper, so can Africa.

      Garth - 2012-01-06 11:55

      @graziella - So China has a policy of non-intervention in other countries's internal affairs do they? Korea? Vietnam? Angola? Just three that spring immediately to mind. China is not here to invest, nor to build, nor to save your ungrateful a$$ from the downward spiral. China is here to exploit and only the naive will not see. You are so anti-white and so anti-western ideologies that you fail to see anything positive in the `white' west. I can smell your racism from here. Born in Africa - African. Born in the Americas - American. Born in Europe - European. Born in Asia - Asia. Only racists attach colours to continents.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:02

      Korea and Vietman, both countries on the borders of China. Angola, the Chines think CONTEMPTUOUSLY of all Westerners that were and are so cruel and inhumane to their fellow men, especially those that are nonwhite. Centuries of blood and blind greed, with absolutely no regard on the pain and suffering visited on so very many people of colour. If anything, the Chinese feel a DUTY to share the experience of working hard and working smart in face of all that treachery, and to throw off the yoke of western oppression. Indeed Africans have a lot to learn, as witnessed by the Uncle Toms so staunchly defending whatever things Western, even in the face of diametrically opposite and overwhelming evidence. So Garth, do entertain us, argue some FACTS, and try to convince us that 400 years of Western "tutelage" was somehow good for Africa, and why the Africans should continue to say "how hight" when told by their Western ex-masters to jump.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:16

      Who does "your ungrateful" refer to, and yet you have the nerve to call me a racist.

      Garth - 2012-01-06 12:49

      @graziella - read. Read something other than political science. Read for the joy of it. Read so as to laugh out loud. Then remember who it was that introduced reading to Southern Africa. ` the Chines(sic) think CONTEMPTUOUSLY of all Westerners that were and are so cruel and inhumane to their fellow men, especially those that are nonwhite.' Read, something other than political science. Try History; written history, maybe something by Thomas Pakenhem or John Reader(sorry, both white), then while reading remember how writing and books first came to Southern Africa. Read and remember that the British(it was they who ruled most of southern Africa) installed railways, harbours, roads, schools, mines, and on and on ad nauseum, before they left, handing over to Black Majority Rule a mere 40 years ago, in most cases. And whilst reading at night under incandescent light, remember whom it was that brought light bulbs and the electricity to power them to Southern Africa. Read, oh ignorant one, read.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 13:13

      The guise of civilisation as a cover for exploitation. Only a psychopath justifies slavery, colonialism and its exploitation. That attitude to the Third World is patronising, self-serving and, historically speaking, a kind of conservative revisionism which blames the formerly colonised for their own exploitation.

      Garth - 2012-01-06 13:29

      Your ignorance is unfathomable - you are educated yet so one dimensional that it is a shame - what a waste. Was going to leave this alone but then could not. What does the fact the Vietnam, China and Korea all share boundaries have to do with China's policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. China interfered and is still interfering. North Koreans do not flush the toilet without permission from China. '. . . policy . . . is well-known and consistant.' Consistent with what? Your one-eyed view of the world? Oh, and grateful for the written word and your comprehension of it. I am grateful every day for things `western'. I like motor vehicles and electricity and computers and telephones. How about you? And I do not blame anybody else for any misfortune of mine own - how about you?

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 13:59

      It's always extraordinary to see the illogical knots that get tied in your efforts to distract from the point being discussed. People who move the goalposts every five minutes in order to try and win and argument without actually bothering to provide any data themselves are as inane as they are irritating.

  • Blade - 2012-01-06 10:10

    Ditch all the homo's and political correctness in the US military. Then you might have something resembling a fighting force.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 11:20

      Fighting for what really, the NAZIs were hanged for the same war crimes of aggression that the US/UK have been responsible for.

      Garth - 2012-01-06 11:59

      Britain and America have concentration camps and gas chambers spread throughout the mid-west of the USA. They are hidden underneath special camouflage netting from Russian and Chinese satellites. Millions of people have been processed in them. Millions. One-eyed fool.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:21

      The UN was established to prosecute and punish countries that engaged in wars of aggression and expansion.

      Blade - 2012-01-06 13:11

      @Garth that sounds like a cool movie...whats it called?

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 13:16

      One-eyed fools!

      Garth - 2012-01-06 13:31

      Its called `Graziella's One-Eyed view of the World and its History.'

  • Jaba - 2012-01-06 13:53

    bla bla bla... as a business owner of a large manufacturing facility in Sebenza Edenvale, i can honestly say that the largest threat to job creation in South Africa is China. no manufacturing = no economy! while the Chinese come to use and abuse our assets hidden in the ground - Europeans came and build factories in Africa! where is all the copper going to? China or a manufacturing plant in Durban! fact is China is using and abusing us by spending millions and corrupting the leaders of the ANC. I will go further to say that if it was not for the US, we (as South African) would not be free, we wouldn't be able to place our comments on news 24 and we would be speaking some communist language in a society where a doctor and a street sweeper earn the same amount of money - whereby, one generation later, no one would want to spend 9 years to become a doctor. Graziella, im just hope nutcases like you don't multiply. for you cut nose/spite face policy is just sad.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 14:25

      Europeans only built factories in Zimbabwe and South Africa which were anomallies as compared to the rest of the continent. It is the Chinese that have been building industry locally on a massive unprecedented scale in the continent. I am not spiting anyone, Africans have chosen the Chinese as their preferred development partners (BRICS) after centuries of western failures and humiliation. Despite talk of "billions and billions" to invest, the Japanese are not here. The Westerners are too greedy and deals done with them over the last 400 years ranged from bad to horrendous from the African viewpoint. So who is left?

  • Graziella - 2012-01-06 14:23

    Every single reason being canvassed here for denying Chinese a position in Africa applies just as strongly to Western actors -- in most cases, even more strongly; and obviously there are extra reasons to be wary of Western actors. In the face of these facts -- and they're hardly hidden -- many of you are still willing to make the comparative argument. That sort of disconnection from reality is, forgive me for saying, reminiscent of some sort of psychosis.

      Linda - 2012-01-06 16:19

      After reading your comments I find it very difficult not to resort to name calling or sarcasm. So, with all the restraint I can muster I will simply state my opinion. You seem to be delusional and possibly suffering from some sort of psychosis. Maybe it would help if you broadened your reading matter.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 18:30

      I grew up believing in American and Western exceptionalism and it was after broadening my reading material (non main stream media) that I was exposed to the intransigence of western powers and I must thank John Perking for that (Author of Economic Hitmen and the Secret History of American Empire). I now read Chomsky, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Craig Roberts, and the likes. Anyone fairly reviewing what Westerners DID to Africa and Africans, and what the Chinese did for Africa and Africans, will notice the difference as being night and day. The argument being put up here is pretty much that the Chinese are vile racists because they have some quite horrific attitudes towards Tibetans, are willing to prop up dictatorships, and so on. Their involvement in Africa can only lead to serious trouble. Therefore, Western countries should be Africa's preferred partners. This reasoning shows a lack of self-awareness that borders on the psychotic. You must be so sour that the Empire's collapsed. Own up to the fact that the American empire continues into its imperial decline,waging wars on oil rich countries not subservient to its diktats under the guise of 'freedom,democracy and all things apple pie and ice cream. God bless America and all who sink with her! Imperial hubris knows no bounds.

  • EyesEars - 2012-01-06 16:51

    If America keep their nose out of other countries' business, it will be so much better, but instead keep on pushing for what is not really needed, spending millions of dollars. Then again: If something does happen, then the Bible prophecies in Revelations and Daniel, will be fullfilled. Yes looking at the bigger picture, it all seems clear.

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