As acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan heads to Asia on Tuesday to deliver a major policy speech on the region, increasing tensions with Iran threaten to upend the Pentagon’s strategy to focus on “great power competition” and countering Russia and China, officials and experts say.
In January 2018, the U.S. military put China and Russia at the center of a new national defense strategy, shifting priorities after more than a decade and a half of focusing on the fight against Islamist militants.
On his first day as acting defense secretary in January, Shanahan told civilian leaders of the U.S. military to focus on “China, China, China.”
But escalating tension with Iran over the past month could impair that focus. The U.S. military has cited what it sees as a threat of potential attack by Iran to deploy hundreds of troops to the region, in addition to Patriot missiles, bombers and the accelerated movement of a carrier strike group.
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