What's Trump's military strategy?

China Military Online
Li Jiayao

By Lin Zhiyuan

The Trump administration released its first National Security Strategy Report of his first year in office. Through this report and the various moves during the past year, Trump administration’s national security strategy and military strategy are getting clearer.

Highlight big power competition and recreate US strategic superiority

The US National Security Strategy Report said that the US should conduct overall competition including economic competition, political and ideological competition, geopolitical competition, military competition and educational and cultural competition against China and Russia.

The report calls for the combined use of political, economic and military forces to reverse the unfavorable competitive situation. It requires the allies and partners to take more international obligations and responsibilities. The report demands that the US military must be prepared to simultaneously act during all types of conflicts in multiple areas and better deal with the "mixed threat" that will not evolve into a major conflict and prepare for a full-scale war.

It can be seen from this that there is no substantive difference between Trump and other US presidents in safeguarding its global leadership. Trump stressed to "make America great again" to enhance key capabilities and safeguard "the peace under the rule of the US."

Promote peace by strength and actively prepare for war

The Trump administration believes that "making US military powerful again" is an important prerequisite for "make America great again." In order to maintain its military superiority, the Trump administration demanded "sufficient equipment, resources and capital to be available" so that the US military can quickly and decisively defeat their enemies.

The first is to increase the national defense budget and the US military spending in the fiscal year of 2018 to nearly $700 billion. Second, the US will fully realize the modernization of the armed forces and restore the capability of manufacturing new equipment. Third, the US will adopt new procurement methods to deliver suitable equipment to the armed forces. Fourth, the US will expand the size of the armed forces to meet the needs of large-scale and long-term operations. Fifth, the US will raise the combat readiness level, enhance the resilience of front-line deployment forces and the rapid reaction capability of global mobility forces. Sixth, the US will develop diversification capabilities to win both regular and irregular warfare.

Strengthen nuclear forces to ensure reliable and credible deterrence

Trump advocates "vigorously strengthening and expanding nuclear weapons." He emphasized that "US nuclear forces must be ahead of the world." The Nuclear Posture Review to be submitted earlier this year will propose the continued expansion of nuclear arsenals and ease conditions on the use of nuclear weapons.

At present, the US Department of Defense is taking measures to realize the integrated nuclear force modernization. The first is the development of a new generation of Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines. The R&D and procurement cost is set to reach $128 billion. The first submarine is scheduled to be purchased in the fiscal year of 2021 and will be commissioned in the fiscal year of 2031. A total of 12 submarines of the kind will be built. The second is the development of the next generation of land-based ballistic missiles, including the new flight system, command and control system and modern launching system. The system will be installed in 2029, in which 400 missiles will be deployed. The third is the modernization of the bomber fleet. B-2 and B-52 bombers will be upgraded and their lifespan will be extended. The development of the next-generation stealth bomber B-21 is underway and an estimated investment of $55 billion to $80 billion will be used to purchase 100 B-21 bombers. Approximately $10 billion will be used to purchase 1,100 air-launched next generation cruise missiles.

Seize strategic high ground in emerging areas to ensure long-term strategic superiority

The US will make space as the prioritized area of development. A new National Space Council chaired by the vice president is established to review the US long-term space goals and formulate a strategy to integrate all the space sectors to support innovation and the maintenance of the US advantage in space mission.

The US will treat cyberspace as a key area to improve the capability to track the origin of cyber attacks in order to respond promptly. The US will recruit, train and retain a pool of professionals to launch cyber operations against their enemies.

Innovate concepts of operations and redesigned future wars

The US Army will further develop the concept of "multi-domain battle." This new concept of operations focuses on the war of 2025 to 2040 and calls for breaking the boundaries between services and fields, forging together elements of various forces, coordinating all the operational domains of land, sea, sky, electromagnetic spectrum, information environment and cognitive dimensions for integrated attacks, and defeat opponents physically and cognitively.

At present, the US Army has incorporated the concept of "multi-domain battle" into the new "operational platform" and released version 1.0 of Multi-Domain Battle: Evolution of Combined Arms for the 21st Century. 2025-2040. The related taskforce is under construction and will participate in the "Pacific Rim" drill in 2018.

The concept of "multi-domain battle" aims to tackle the challenge of "confrontational entry" faced by various services of the US armed forced. The concept has been vigorously promoted by the US Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and responded positively by all kinds of services. The concept of "multi-domain battle" is now moving from theory to practice.

The author is a researcher from the Foreign Military Research Department of the War Research Institute of the PLA Academy of Military Science.


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