WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has released a new National Military Strategy, the first update to that document since 2011 — one that warns the threat of major war with another nation is "growing."
The strategy is being updated to reflect the new global security situation, one in which the US is facing near-peer adversaries like Russia and China while simultaneously having to handle diffuse militant groups like the Islamic State.
"Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote in his introduction to the strategy document.
"We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups — all taking advantage of rapid technological change," Dempsey continued. "We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly."
The contents of the document should be no surprise to those who follow the Pentagon. It is a straightforward military document, devoid of politics. The words "budget" and "sequestration" are nowhere to be found.
Instead, the document focuses on the importance of partnerships to maintain the delicate security balance around the globe, something Pentagon officials have been pushing over the last several months.
Speaking after the release of the document, Dempsey said the strategy acknowledges that American success "will increasingly depend on how well our military instrument supports the other instruments of national power, and how it enables our network of allies and partners.
The strategy specifically calls out Iran, Russia and North Korea as aggressive threats to global peace. It also mentions China, but notably starts that paragraph by saying the Obama administration wants to "support China's rise and encourage it to become a partner for greater international security," continuing to thread the line between China the economic ally and China the regional competitor.
"None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies," the strategy reads. "Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages, and coordinated action."
Later, the strategy authors note that "today, the probability of U.S. involvement in interstate war with a major power is assessed to be low but growing."
However, "hybrid conflicts" — not just the Islamic State, but forces such as the Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine — are likely to expand.
The strategy also hits on the concerns, highlighted by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work over the last six months, that the US is no longer guaranteed technological superiority, or that in conflicts with groups like the Islamic State, that technological superiority may not be a guarantee of victory.
The full strategy document can be read here.
This story has been updated.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.