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Asia and cyberattacks headline list of growing threats to US, military says

In the first revision of its National Military Strategy since 2004, the US military also hints at the wear and tear on American servicemen and women after 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Anna MulrineStaff writer / February 8, 2011

South Korean conservative activists march as they hold a mock coffin and portraits of North Korean leader Kim Joing Il and his son Kim Jong Un during a rally denouncing cyber terror and missile launch in Seoul, South Korea, July 10, 2009. The Pentagon's release of the latest revision of the National Military Strategy says the threat of cyberattacks is a growing concern.

Lee Jin-man/AP/File

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In the first revision of the National Military Strategy since 2004, the Pentagon is singling out Asia as a region of rising power and concern, pointing to the increased threat of cyberattacks, and warning of the “impact of the wars on our military, especially our people” as the US enters its 10th year of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The National Military Strategy, which was released Tuesday, is the Pentagon’s piece of the National Security Strategy, the White House’s periodic appraisal of the pressing threats America faces and how it plans to deal with them. The previous National Security Strategy was released in 2010.

The document takes note of the wear and tear on the US military as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We underestimate at our peril," the Pentagon says, "the stresses of sustained combat operations on our equipment and people."

Reflecting the US military’s broadening areas of responsibility, the Pentagon document also makes note of destabilizing global trends in population growth, water scarcity, and climate change.

The Pentagon’s growing focus on Asia “does not necessarily mean” more American troops will be dispatched to the region, says a senior US military official, who briefed reporters on the condition that he not be identified by name. But the official did not rule out the possibility of a “redistribution” of forces, noting that in Europe, there is less need for US ground forces as NATO develops ballistic missile defenses.

The American military should also seek to “invest new attention and resources in Southeast and South Asia,” according to the report, which lobbies for more exercises with the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, among other countries. It also points to the need to expand and deepen military relationships with both China and India.

But even as the US military seeks closer defense ties with China, for example, it remains wary of the country’s technological leaps forward.

North Korea 'a provocative threat'

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