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Does Ukraine's Crisis Override Pentagon's Defense Strategy? Does Ukraine's Crisis Override Pentagon's Defense Strategy?

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Does Ukraine's Crisis Override Pentagon's Defense Strategy?

The president's nominee to be the Defense Department's policy chief says no.

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(Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Even though a recently released defense-strategy report scarcely mentions Russia, don't expect the Pentagon to brush it aside anytime soon.

A "wholesale redo" of the review, which broadly outlines the Defense Department's strategy every four years, isn't necessary—despite the crisis in Ukraine, Christine Wormuth, deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans, and force development, said Monday.

 

The 64-page document, which came out March 4, made little mention of Russia, dedicating just one paragraph to outlining the possible risks it may pose to Washington's or its allies' interests.

The document did note that some of Russia's military actions could "violate the sovereignty of its neighbors" and "present risks," adding that the United States will try to work with Russia to "reduce the risk of military miscalculation."

But the Pentagon's review is "kind of broadly envisioned and would allow us to kind of do the kinds of things that we need to do to both support the government of Ukraine and reassure our NATO allies," Wormuth said.

 

But if the Defense Department wants to be able to tackle a swath of issues outlined in the defense review—ranging from containing Russian influence or shifting the U.S. focus to the Asia-Pacific region—it will need Congress to cough up the extra $115 billion over five years the administration has requested in its five-year budget plan, Wormuth said.

"This is not a post-Cold War, early-90s kind of security environment," said Wormuth, who is also the president's nominee to become the department's undersecretary for policy. "You can't live in a mansion if you're working on a middle-class salary. At a certain point we are going to have to ask ourselves, 'What kind of nation do we want to be?' "

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