WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's new national defense strategy calls for a shift in focus from conventional warfare to mastering the complex threat of global extremism, a published report said Thursday.
According to excerpts of the National Defense Strategy approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and published by the Washington Post, the U.S. military must prepare for a more diverse and long-lasting struggle against insurgency and terror, or "irregular" warfare.
"Iraq and Afghanistan remain the central fronts in the struggle, but we cannot lose sight of the implications of fighting a long-term, episodic, multi-front, and multi-dimensional conflict more complex and diverse than the Cold War confrontation with communism," the Post quoted the document as saying.
"Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is crucial to winning this conflict, but it alone will not bring victory."
The defense strategy calls for strategic partnerships with Russia and China, as well as a greater focus on the conditions that spark extremist movements and behavior.
"The use of force plays a role, yet military efforts to capture or kill terrorists are likely to be subordinate to measures to promote local participation in government and economic programs to spur development, as well as efforts to understand and address the grievances that often lie at the heart of insurgencies," the document said.
"For these reasons, arguably the most important military component of the struggle against violent extremists is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we help prepare our partners to defend and govern themselves."
The newspaper said it obtained the 23-page document, which has not been officially released, from a defense industry news service, InsideDefense.com.