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Pentagon: US military advantage over Russia, China 'eroding'

23 January 2018

As Mattis predicted in public remarks Friday, military reservists across the country traveled in preparation for scheduled training this weekend, only to be sent home after the shutdown at midnight. "Failure to modernize our military risks leaving us with a force that could dominate the last war, but be irrelevant to tomorrow's security".

Capabilities in this case are not traditional military weapons but space systems that are resilient to attack.

"We will be willing to be persuaded by them, recognising that not all good ideas come from the country with the most aircraft carriers", Mr Mattis said.

"This is very much like during the cold war time, when every military platform that the USA or Soviet Union procured had a direct implication against the other's capabilities, so [the US] is not so much about having a peacetime military any more but one that is to win a war against the Chinese and Russians".

"It is clear that conflicts between China and the USA are heading in the direction of becoming more strategic, more serious. and more comprehensive", Shi said on Saturday.

But it also stresses a need for burden-sharing - a nod to Trump's haranguing of allies who, he says, let Washington pick up the military bills.

"In everything we say and everything we do, we are reinforcing our diplomats", Mattis said. Aggressors would be punished with economic and other types of global sanctions, he added.

"Yet as I stand here this morning, watching the news, as we all are, from Capitol Hill, we're on the verge of a government shutdown or, at best, yet another debilitating continuing resolution", he said. The classified version of the strategy is five times bigger than the 11-page unclassified report released today.

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The "National Defense Strategy" represents the latest sign of hardening resolve by President Donald Trump's administration to address challenges from Russian Federation and China, at the same time he is pushing for improved ties with Moscow and Beijing to rein in a nuclear North Korea.

Despite challenges from revisionist powers and rogue regimes, Mattis said the US military is "still strong", but that Washington's competitive edge "has eroded" and "is continuing to erode" in every domain of warfare - air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.

He also said, "We will modernize key capabilities, recognizing we can not expect success fighting tomorrow's conflicts with yesterday's weapons or equipment".

Key modernization priorities include upgrading nuclear forces, building up space and cyber forces, enhancing communications and intelligence capabilities, and strengthening missile defenses.

Although Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, called on Trump to stay in the nuclear deal during a Senate hearing in October, the new strategy calls for the United States to support coalitions "to support the lasting defeat of terrorists as we sever their sources of strength and counterbalance Iran".

"China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea", the document reads. Mattis has urged U.S. lawmakers to avoid the shut-down, commenting on the recent standoff in the country's government over the adoption of the short-term budget to prevent government shutdown.

"We expect European allies to fulfill their commitments to increase defense and modernization spending to bolster the alliance in the face of our shared security concerns", the NDS says, so that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can "deter Russian adventurism".

"The NDS appears to be a pastiche of slogans masquerading as a strategy", said Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "In fairness, if you look back at previous QDRs and other strategy reviews, that often is the case - that it's a lot of talk". But without knowing the budget commitments, it was hard to assess if it was a sound strategy.

Pentagon: US military advantage over Russia, China 'eroding'