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Report to Congress on Shifts in the International Security Environment

The following is the Aug. 3, 2018 Congressional Research report, A Shift in the International Security Environment: Potential Implications for Defense-Issues for Congress.

From the report

World events in recent years have led observers, particularly since late 2013, to conclude that the international security environment in recent years has undergone a shift from the post-Cold War era that began in the late 1980s and early 1990s, also sometimes known as the unipolar moment (with the United States as the unipolar power), to a new and different situation that features, among other things, renewed great power competition with China and Russia and challenges by these two countries and others to elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II.

The shift in the international security environment has become a major factor in the debate over future U.S. defense spending levels, and has led to new or renewed emphasis on the following in discussions of U.S. defense strategy, plans, and programs:

  • grand strategy and geopolitics as part of the context for discussing U.S. defense budgets, plans, and programs;
  • U.S. and NATO military capabilities in Europe;
  • capabilities for countering so-called hybrid warfare and gray-zone tactics employed by countries such as Russia and China;
  • capabilities for conducting so-called high-end warfare (i.e., large-scale, highintensity, technologically sophisticated warfare) against countries such as China and Russia;
  • maintaining U.S. technological superiority in conventional weapons;
  • nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence;
  • speed of weapon system development and deployment as a measure of merit in defense acquisition policy; and
  • minimizing reliance in U.S. military systems on components and materials from Russia and China. The issue for Congress is how U.S. defense funding levels, strategy, plans, and programs should respond to the shift in the international security environment. Congress’s decisions on these issues could have significant implications for U.S. defense capabilities and funding requirements.


via fas.org