Document: Report to Congress on New National Defense Strategy

February 13, 2018 4:21 PM

The following is the Feb. 5, 2018 Congressional Research Service Insight, The 2018 National Defense Strategy.

What the NDS Says:

Consistent with comparable documents issued by prior administrations, the NDS maintains
that there are five central external threats to U.S. interests: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran,
and terrorist groups with global reach. The NDS mandate requires DOD to prioritize those
threats. Accordingly, retaining the U.S. strategic competitive edge relative to China and Russia
is viewed a higher priority than countering violent extremist organizations. Further, the NDS
appears conceptually consistent with the National Security Strategy regarding the notion that
“peace through strength,” or improving the capability and lethality of the joint force in order to
deter warfare, is essential to countering these threats. It also contends that, unlike most of the
period since the end of the Cold War, the joint force must now operate in contested domains
where freedom of access and maneuver is no longer assured.

As such, it organizes DOD activities along three central “lines of effort”—rebuilding military
readiness and improving the joint forces’ lethality, strengthening alliances and attracting new
partners, and reforming the department’s business practices—and argues that all three are
interconnected and critical to enabling DOD to effectively advance U.S. objectives. It also
notes that programs designed to advance those objectives will be included in the FY2019-
FY2023 budgets.


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