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.
At the same time, the US military will focus on projecting its power in the Pacific, and for that, defense officials say, it will need aircraft carriers and stealth fighters – in other words, the star of the Air Force and Navy will be on the rise.