The Pentagon on Thursday released its 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS), which names China as the “most comprehensive and serious challenge to US national security strategy” even as the US is spending tens of billions on a proxy war with Russia.
The NDS was first briefed to Congress back in March, and a short summary was released that said China was the top “threat” facing the US. The strategy names Russia as an “acute threat” but not as serious in the long term as China.
“Unlike China, Russia can’t systemically challenge the United States over the long term. But Russian aggression does pose an immediate and sharp threat to our interests and values,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters.
The strategy said China and Russia pose a greater threat to the US homeland than any terrorist groups. “The scope and scale of threats to the homeland have fundamentally changed. The PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Russia now pose more dangerous challenges to safety and security at home, even as terrorist threats persist,” the strategy read.
The strategy names other “persistent threats,” including North Korea and Iran, with “violent extremist organizations,” such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, at the bottom of the list. The strategy said that these groups have had their “capabilities degraded” but may be able to “reconstitute them in short order.”
The strategy focuses on the need for deterrence to prevent a conflict with two nuclear-armed powers at the same time and focuses on the idea of a nuclear deterrent. “In a potential conflict with a competitor, the United States would need to be able to deter opportunistic aggression by another competitor,” the strategy reads. “We will rely in part on nuclear weapons to help mitigate this risk, recognizing that a near-simultaneous conflict with two nuclear-armed states would constitute an extreme circumstance.”
The NDS was released simultaneously with the Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defense Review on Thursday. Officials told Stars and Stripes that the documents were integrated together for the first time. The Nuclear Posture Review calls for the modernization of the US nuclear triad, a plan that could cost up to $1.5 trillion.