Ending America’s war in Afghanistan was President Joe Biden’s most important foreign policy decision of 2021, cementing a major shift in US military posture and Pentagon priorities for the years ahead.
America's pivot from “forever” wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan to one in which the US must contend with sophisticated “near-peer” competitors marks a sea change in its war-fighting doctrine, bringing a sharper focus on modernising major weapons systems and tackling emerging technologies such as autonomous weapons powered by artificial Intelligence.
Three months after the Pentagon's chaotic pullout from Kabul, it announced the completion of its Global Posture Review, mapping out the US military's global deployments and troop adjustments.
Two weeks after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mr Biden announced the creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership with Australia and Britain, known as Aukus, that seeks to bolster the countries' military presence and co-ordination in the region.
It is “a shift away from counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East, towards a strategic competition with China, primarily in the Indo-Pacific,” Margarita Konaev, associate director of analysis and research fellow at Georgetown’s Centre for Security and Emerging Technology, told The National.
With a technologically sophisticated rival such as China, Dr Konaev predicted a greater focus from US military on modernising major weapons systems and building artificial intelligence capacity.
"The way that the US military organises, trains, equips, and generally prepares for the type of missions and engagements it has pursued during the last 20 years, including of course the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, is fundamentally different from how it must prepare for the prospect of competition and conflict with a large scale, technologically sophisticated peer competitor like China," she said.
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