A national defense analyst isn't surprised the Pentagon is shifting its strategy from terrorist insurgency to confronting adversarial nations like China and Russia.
Following the defeat of ISIS, American troops have begun a pullout from Iraq. The Iraq drawdown follows the recent release of the Pentagon's "2018 National Defense Strategy" which cites China's rapidly expanding military and "predatory economics," and an increasingly aggressive Russia that "has violated the borders of nearby nations" as the U.S. military's top national security priorities.
Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (USA-Ret.) is senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council. He says the reduction in forces does not mean the U.S. isn't going to maintain a footprint in Iraq.
"The U.S. is not going to do what happened in 2011," he assures, "and that is to abandon Baghdad and leave them in a pretty bad situation. So I'm not surprised. I think this was to be expected."
The Strategy summary also notes "outlaw actions and reckless rhetoric" continue to emanate from North Korea despite censure and sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
Maginnis explains that great power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.
"There's a lot going on here," he tells OneNewsNow. "... Letting the Iraqis do more of their own defense against the remnant of ISIS and then [making] adjustments in the Middle East will give us the opportunity to focus on what really is the future threat – and of course, that will come from the likes of the Chinese and the Russians."
The retired Army officer says shifting to the new strategy will take several years because of neglect during the Obama administration. The National Defense Strategy summary describes that period this way, saying the U.S. is "emerging from a period of strategic atrophy" during which the country's "competitive military advantage has been eroding."
"[I would argue that] we've lost significant ... power over the last few years thanks to the Obama administration," Maginnis continues, "and we haven't quite invested in nearly enough to counter the shortfall that we've seen over the last decade thanks to Obama."
The Pentagon is seeking $700 billion for fiscal year 2018 and $719 billion for fiscal year 2019 to finance day-to-day department operations, as well as current combat operations overseas.
During recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary James Mattis said he preferred a military financed with a permanent defense spending package as opposed to temporary spending measures. He explained that it takes months and years to produce the munitions, training, and readiness required to fight well. Maginnis agrees.
"We made some bad assumptions [during the Obama administration] by focusing on counterinsurgency operations," says the national defense analyst. "As we were focused on that, our military did very little to really do the type of conventional training and armaments that were critical to go against large global powers such as the Chinese and the Russians."