President Barack Obama says the
United States will continue to maintain the strongest military in the world and
that it will focus more on unconventional threats. But the president also told
an audience at the National Defense University in Washington that the country
needs to improve its ability to deliver civilian aid and advice abroad in order
to prevent wars.
Speaking to a largely military gathering as he dedicated
a new building at the university, President Obama made this pledge.
make no mistake, this nation will maintain our military dominance," he said. "We
will have the strongest armed forces in the history of the world. And we will do
whatever it takes to sustain our technological advantage and to invest in the
capabilities that we need to protect our interests, and to defeat and deter any
But the president also said the U.S. military must
be prepared for unconventional enemies - insurgents like the ones American
troops are fighting today in Iraq and Afghanistan. To that end, Mr. Obama said
he is continuing the Bush administration's program to increase the size of the
U.S. Army and Marine Corps, and to change the way troops are trained.
must understand different languages and different cultures," he said. "We must
study determined adversaries and developing tactics. That's the education that
is done within the walls of this university. And that is the work that must be
done to keep our nation safe."
President Obama said today's troops face a
"complex mission," having to fight insurgents and win the support of civilians
in the same area at the same time.
He also said modern security
requires more robust diplomacy, including the ability to deploy civilians to
help friendly governments improve their performance, support the rule of law,
promote economic development and do other things to "attack the causes of war
around the world."
He noted that government civilians study alongside
military officers at the National Defense University, and that foreign military
officers are there, too. He said that emphasizes the point that the United
States cannot address the world's security challenges alone.
"There is no
permanent American solution to the security challenges that we face within any
foreign nation, nor can the world meet the tests of our time without strong
American leadership," he said. "And that's why my administration is committed to
comprehensive engagement with the world, including strengthened partnerships
with the foreign militaries and security forces that can combat our common
President Obama's strong statement about the need to be
prepared for unconventional war echoes the views of Defense Secretary Robert
Gates, and other officials and experts. And it could have a significant impact
on the president's budget, which is now being worked on.
There has been
considerable speculation that the secretary and the president might decide to
reduce, postpone or cancel some expensive military programs aimed mainly at
conventional threats, such as the Air Force's new fighter jet. Those decisions
are expected in the next few weeks.