Clearly, the Pentagon feels that, in many ways, its job has never been tougher. Not only does the possibility of a conventional war (say, against China) remain, but the Pentagon must also be prepared to continue the fight against terrorism and perhaps even strike Iran. These skill sets are often at odds with one another and enormously costly to maintain – requiring different training, equipment, and priorities.
The question, then, is how willing the Pentagon will be to play the "fear" card – warning of the potentially catastrophic consequences of budget cuts – even as Congress is convulsed by runaway federal spending.
The strategy announced Thursday takes a large step back from the counterinsurgency operations that America has been conducting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past decade. Instead, it turns its attention towards the broader Middle East, cyberwarfare, and the Pacific as the epicenter of the new security challenges that the United States will face.
As a result, the size of the Army and Marines will shrink. The force "will be smaller and leaner, but its great strength will be that it is more agile, flexible, ready to deploy, innovative, and technologically advanced," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.