WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will visit the Pentagon on Thursday to unveil a revised US military strategy designed to reflect a more frugal era and a greater focus on potential threats from China, officials said.
The Pentagon’s “defense strategic review” is supposed to set out an approach for the US military at a time of fiscal pressures, as the Obama administration prepares for more than $450 billion in defense cuts over the next 10 years.
The review “will guide our budget priorities and decisions going forward,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday.
Obama will be joined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have vowed to maintain America’s military edge despite planned budget reductions.
In a politically charged election year, US officials have sought to portray the president as taking a careful, deliberate approach to defense spending, with officials insisting any reductions will be informed by the review of strategy by commanders.
The review will call for confronting threats from China and Iran with air and naval power while shifting away from drawn-out counterinsurgency campaigns requiring large ground forces, officials and analysts said.
The strategy, echoing what Panetta and other top officials have said previously, will argue for a smaller, agile force that will expand the military’s role in Asia while maintaining a strong naval presence in the Middle East, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
Under the plan, the American military would be prepared to deny any attempt by Iran to disrupt vital oil routes in the Gulf and to counter any effort by China to dominate international waters in the South China Sea, the official said.
The new strategy is also expected to discard the doctrine that the American military had to be prepared to fight two wars at the same time, an idea long debated inside the Pentagon, officials said.
Instead, the United States would be ready to fight one war while waging a holding operation elsewhere to stave off a second threat.
Before 2001, the Pentagon had prepared to fight two wars simultaneously but commanders faced a shortage of manpower in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.