Fight with ISIS: Russia, China Reduce U.S. Military Advantage

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., Sept. 22, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., Sept. 22, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant / Syria (ISIL / ISIS) has the momentum to end the terror group’s hold in Iraq and Syria.

However, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford also told the panel that he is worried about the joint force and the ability of the force to operate in the future. The chairman testified alongside defense secretary Ash Carter.

There are abundant challenges, he said. Dunford said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea continue to invest in military capabilities that reduce America’s military advantage. They are also advancing their interests through adversarial competition that has a military dimension that falls short of armed conflict, he said.

“Examples include, Russian actions in Ukraine, Chinese activities in the South China Sea, North Korea’s nuclear saber rattling, and Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East,” Dunford said.

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He added that each of these nations stays away from direct confrontation with the United States, but they use economic coercion, information operations, cyber capabilities, unconventional warfare and force posture, as semi-military strategies.

“Meanwhile, non-state actors such as ISIL and al-Qaida remain a threat to our homeland, the American people, our partners and our allies,” the chairman said.

Dunford also said the U.S. nuclear enterprise is aging and needs modernization. “At the same time, we must develop and enhance the capabilities in the increasingly contested domains of space and cyber,” he said.

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