New security strategy focuses on border security, trade

Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on iTunes or PodcastOne.

The United States will focus on border security and trade competitiveness along with classic military threats in its new security policy.

President Donald Trump said the new policy will put an emphasis his “America First” ideology as he unveiled the White House’s new security agenda during a Dec. 18 speech in Washington.


“Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights and to defend their values,” Trump said in a statement.

Part of the trade competitiveness aspect of the document includes creating more jobs, taking the United States out of “unfair” trade deals and preserving the United States’ lead in technology and innovation.

Outside of the push for stronger borders, a better economy and calling on United States’ allies to pony up money for U.S. protection, the White House plan does not differ much from previous years.

The policy recognizes Russia and China as threats to U.S. interests.

“China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence,” the policy stated.

It also continues to stigmatize North Korea, Iran and transnational terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.

The policy stated the United States will redouble its efforts to protect critical infrastructure and secure its networks. That includes improving information sharing and sensing.

The strategy takes the usual stand of stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and biological weapons.

One glaring difference compared to the Obama era policy is the new strategy does not recognize climate change as an issue.

This comes just five days after the Government Accountability Office released a study stating climate change is having a troubling effect on overseas installations through flooding and erosion.

The study stated the Defense Department needs to do a better job tracking the costs of climate change risks for future budget considerations.

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) applauded the strategy.

“I commend the administration on producing a responsible national security strategy that is based in America’s national interest and grounded in common sense,” Thornberry said in a statement. “The strategy depends on the US military maintaining its edge over our adversaries; remaining agile and deployable, and retaining the ability to reassure our allies and deter our enemies,” Thornberry said in a statement.”

To achieve that goal, Thornberry said, Congress has to stop asking the military to do more with less and pass adequate and reliable funding for our troops.

“This strategy is a good start, but only sufficient funding for our military can make it real,” he said.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) also agreed with the principles of the strategy.

“Stronger diplomacy and sustained pressure is needed to change North Korea and Iran’s behavior. A revitalized U.S. broadcasting system is critical to countering the spread of terror, promoting human rights, and checking Putin’s aggression,” Royce said in a statement. “And we need more trade agreements that advance U.S. interests and ensure a level playing field for our job creators. Because the world does not stand still if we close off our borders to trade. Other countries – like China – will take advantage, leaving the U.S. out of important markets for our goods, services and agriculture.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said there is a disconnect between the policy and Trump’s actions as president.

“The president’s strategy claims that there have been ‘11 months of Presidential action to restore respect for the United States abroad and renew American confidence at home’ – neither of which are true.  Under President Trump, our nation’s image has been eroded around the globe, and a less respected America is a weaker America,” Hoyer said. “If this president is in any way serious about national security, he should start by embracing the basic tenets of American leadership: uniting rather than dividing, and defending our democratic ideals abroad and at home.”

Anthony Cordsman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the policy lacks details and strategy.

“There are no specifics, no broad plans, no summary indications of costs and resource, and no time frames for action. About the only specific—early in the new strategy document—is an unexplained call: ‘layered missile defense system will defend our homeland from missile attack,’” Cordsman said. “It is not enough to set national security goals. In an unstable and threatening world, at a time we cannot seem to manage our national budgets, and at a time when we face a growing deficit crisis driven by rising entitlement costs, we really need an actual strategy.”

Christine Wormuth, the former undersecretary of defense for policy said the policy could have used more prioritization, especially in a time when budgets are potentially constrained by sequestration.

Read more of the DoD Personnel Notebook