Mattis: US competitive war-fighting edge has eroded

WASHINGTON (AP) — Countering China's rapidly expanding military and an increasingly aggressive Russia are now the U.S. military's top national security priorities, outpacing the threat of terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today. He said competition with those adversaries has threatened America's military advantage around the world.

Laying out a broad new strategy for the Defense Department, Mattis warned that all aspects of the military's competitive war-fighting edge have eroded.

He said building a force that can deter war with established and emerging military powers in Moscow and Beijing, and U.S. enemies such as North Korea and Iran will require increased investment to make the military more lethal, agile and ready to fight.

"We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but great power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of U.S. national security," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

He said the Islamic State group's "physical caliphate" in Iraq and Syria had been defeated, but that IS, al-Qaida and other extremists still pose threats across the globe.

Mattis repeated his call for America to work closely with allies and partners – an approach that aligns more closely with previous administrations than President Donald Trump's "America First" ideas. That mantra was repeated in a national security strategy that Trump's administration released in December.

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