I downloaded the new National Defense Strategy to see what the future holds and as an exercise for my Future War class.
It's the usual DoD lingo, which takes a long time to say a few things, but there were some interesting nuggets:
a. Counterinsurgency and counterterrorism are still the 800 pound guerrillas in the room (okay bad pun, whatever), and although the document gives lip service to the need for conventional capability, we'll see. If I was the Air Force, I would get real nervous about being pushy for more F-22s right now. It also appears the Navy was, for once, pretty smart to cancel the DDX and buy more DDG51s.
b. There was a lot of discussion about Russia, China and India, as well as North Korea and Iran. All good things, but I was surprised there was no mention of Venezuela. I discussed in one of my analysis for my Future War class the potential for an "axis of oil" between Iran and Venezuela. This would be a significant strategic issue for the U.S. to deal with. Imagine for a minute, a new "Cuban Missile Crisis" only this time, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have 5-10 primitive but capable ballistic missiles, perhaps with nuclear or other WMD warheads hidden in the jungles of Venezuela and they demand the US stop supporting Israel in their next war with Hezbollah. What would (shudder) a President Obama do, hmmm. Does that scare you as much as it scares me? It should.
c. Finally, the other interesting issue raised in this document is the need for better inter-governmental cooperation. This is another point I touched on in one of my analyses, the permanent standup of teams at each major Combatant Commander similar to the Provincial Reconstruction Teams used in Afghanistan and Iraq. These teams combine military, civil affairs, engineers, and maybe some agricultural or other aid organizations to combine both hard and soft power. In many parts of the world, these are the future of national security and I can only hope that DoD has the juice to make them go.
All in all, no new ground broken with this document, although it is a good "howgozit" of where the U.S. currently stands and what the near term holds. It remains to be seen what the next Administration and Congress do about the issues raised.