Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense

World events in recent years have led observers, particularly since late 2013, to conclude that the international security environment in recent years has undergone a shift from the post-Cold War era that began in the late 1980s and early 1990s, also sometimes known as the unipolar moment (with the United States as the unipolar power), to a new and different situation that features, among other things, renewed great power competition with China and Russia and challenges by these two countries and others to elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II.

The shift to renewed great power competition has become a major factor in the debate over future U.S. defense spending levels, and has led to new or renewed emphasis on the following in discussions of U.S. defense strategy, plans, and programs:

* grand strategy and geopolitics as part of the context for discussing U.S. defense budgets, plans, and programs;

* nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence;

* new U.S. military service operational concepts;

* U.S. and NATO military capabilities in Europe;

* capabilities for conducting so-called high-end conventional warfare (i.e., largescale, high-intensity, technologically sophisticated warfare) against countries such as China and Russia;

* maintaining U.S. technological superiority in conventional weapons;

* speed of weapon system development and deployment as a measure of merit in defense acquisition policy;

* mobilization capabilities for an extended-length large-scale conflict against an adversary such as China or Russia;

* minimizing reliance in U.S. military systems on components and materials from Russia and China; and

* capabilities for countering so-called hybrid warfare and gray-zone tactics employed by countries such as Russia and China.