Dr Mike Evans

US Defense Department leader notes shift in Middle East strategy

A Defense Department leader at the U.S. Middle East CENTCOM conference noted a shift in Middle East military strategy on Wednesday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities Mara Karlin, addressed the Pentagon’s Middle East policy during her remarks.

“Effective deterrence does not require the basing of hundreds of thousands of US troops in static formations; in fact, that would be ineffective deterrence. Our strength comes from our ability to leverage partnerships, coalitions, and in our agility – our ability to flow forces to where they are needed, swiftly and effectively,” she stated.

“To be clear: this is a paradigm shift in our approach to the region – one that de-emphasizes unrealistic aims of transformation, or regime change, often pursued through unilateral military means, but focuses rather on our comparative advantages in partnerships and the fundamentals of sound policy: building coalitions, aligning ends and means, and setting clear and achievable aims,” she added.

Another emphasis during Karlin’s talk was the focus on China and Russia as top priority threats. Despite the shift, “the United States will remain engaged in the Middle East,” she said.
The news comes as the U.S. has withdrawn from Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, the conflict in Yemen has settled down, providing relative calm in the region.

In addition, ISIS attacks have weakened, though the U.S. claims it will continue to oppose terrorist threats from the group and others such as al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Instead, concerns have grown in the past year as Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. China’s growing connections with Russia and tensions with Taiwan and other nations have noted stronger concerns with the two nations.

The discussion did not heavily discuss, however, issues with Iran as the nation continues its nuclear weapons program and partners with Russia.