The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to release the fifth entry in its Mitchell Policy Paper series, Memo to Washington: Reforming National Defense to Meet Emerging Global Challenges, by Gen Philip Breedlove, USAF (Ret.) former Commander, NATO Supreme Allied Command, and U.S. European Command.
While the long struggle against Islamic extremism continues, near-peer and regional competitors – Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran — are increasing their capabilities to contest US interests and those of its allies and partners. These four challengers present some common military characteristics including “anti-access” capabilities, use of “gray zone” and hybrid warfare tactics designed to confuse US and allied responses, and in some cases more assertive nuclear weapons postures for a variety of purposes.
The military power of the United States and its partners is substantial, Breedlove notes. Even so, significant defense reform is needed to address the current security environment. The intense focus over the past decade and a half on security problems in the US Central Command (CENTCOM) region has resulted in a military force that is not as prepared as it needs to be to counter these emerging competitors. Increased funding for readiness and capacity, without sacrificing critical modernization programs, would do the most to expand US and coalition military power. Specifically, the US European Command (EUCOM) and US Pacific Command (PACOM) regions require an increased allocation of global intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to meet their requirements.