WORK FOR ‘INFLUENCE’
Newly minted Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work issued a statement to the Pentagon workforce last week that appears to play down the U.S. military’s role in projecting power. Instead, he urged Pentagon workers to help project “influence.”
Mr. Work, who took office May 5, formerly served in the Navy Department, and was one of the architects of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia policy, which congressional critics say lacks substance.
Defense officials said the policy was toned down by policymakers who feared upsetting Beijing with the original, muscular Air Sea Battle Concept, which called for new weapons and renewed alliances aimed at defeating China in a future conflict. The policy was transformed instead into a largely diplomatic and economic program lacking funding and other resources.
In his note, Mr. Work pledged “to do everything possible to maintain America’s military edge.”
“We are and will remain a global power whose position in the world is underpinned by our ability to project global influence in concert with other elements of national power, and our allies and partners overseas,” he said in nuanced language reflective of the administration’s policy of avoiding the use of military force.
“We must also balance the need to maintain the dayto-day readiness of our forces in order to project military power whenever and wherever needed with our ability to prevail against future threats and challenges,” Mr. Work said.
The challenge for Mr. Work and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is maintaining the technological edge and readiness of U.S. military forces at a time of fiscal austerity.
Under President Obama, the military has been forced to cut $465 billion in spending, and faces another $500 billion or more in future cuts.
The cuts come amid the need for new military equipment and weapons for modernization, and to replace worn-out equipment from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Contact Bill Gertz at @BillGertz.