WASHINGTON – Deputy Defense Minister Kathleen Hicks on Friday defended the Biden administration’s strategy of integrated deterrence against opponents such as Russia, despite its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has not yet felt the full effect of much of the world’s economic sanctions imposed shortly after the country began its invasion in February, Hicks said at an event at the Ronald Reagan Institute to discuss national defense strategy. And Russia has not hit any NATO territory, she said, as an example of how deterrence works in the crisis in Ukraine.

Integrated deterrence is a cornerstone of the National Defense Strategy, which the administration sent to Congress in March, and seeks to dissuade opponents from acting aggressively, using a wide range of tools available to the government. These instruments include joint military forces in all areas, nuclear deterrence, sanctions, diplomacy and a network of alliances and partnerships around the world.

The classified strategy is not shared with the public, except for a two-page summary The Pentagon let go, outlining its broad strokes.

But while the United States and its allies have repeatedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to invade Ukraine, those warnings have not dissuaded him, Reagan director Roger Zackheim told Hicks.

“It’s reasonable to say that deterrence doesn’t work,” Zackheim said. “It simply came to our notice then. … We tried to put the deterrence tools in place. [But] we did not stop him. “

Hicks responded that the Department of Defense is focusing on “paint reliability” to provide a deterrent. The United States does not have the same security commitments to Ukraine as it does to NATO allies, she said. The United States has also historically failed to provide Ukraine with the type of military assistance it provides to Taiwan.

“What we’re focusing on at the Department of Defense is to bring this combat credibility to the fore,” Hicks said. “Keep in mind that the Russians did not attack NATO territory. And we continue to maintain this deterrent as quite effective. “

Hicks also said the massive economic sanctions imposed on Russia would prove “extremely powerful”.

“They were clearly not convincing about Russia in advance,” Hicks said. “It is not clear that anything would be convincing for Russia in advance; I will not try to get into my head [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. But what I can tell you is that they will be devastated. “

Russia is facing a huge brain drain as businesses leave and highly skilled people leave the nation, Hicks said. She hopes these talented people will come to the United States or other Western countries.

Hicks also said the national security strategy is likely to come “in the coming months”.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion after Hicks’s appearance, Elaine Luria’s spokeswoman, D.A. and far from the “deterrence by punishment” strategy, according to which it describes integrated deterrence.

And in order to implement an effective deterrence strategy, Luria said, the United States must have the strength and presence abroad to be credible.

The United States may not build a force to do so in the next few years, she added. Luria expressed particular concerns about military plans to sell existing assets to free up resources for modernization.

“Instead of being creative, investing in readiness and maintaining those platforms that we have now that we can continue to use through this [near-term] window, we just say “give up to invest”, said Luria. “This is outdated, we need to move to new concepts that are not really equal to existing weapons systems.

“AI, quantum computing – they are certainly part of the mix in the future,” Luria continued. “But we need to focus on the near future.

Michelle Flournua, the Obama administration’s deputy secretary of defense for policy, said deterring China from invading Taiwan – an attack that would involve large numbers of rapidly attacking Chinese ships and planes – could require more than just a census. the number of traditional platforms such as the destroyers are in the American arsenal. This may require different concepts of operations, she said, such as arming opposing Air Force aircraft with long-range anti-ship missiles.

The United States also needs to address ammunition shortages, which are now exacerbated by the need to help Ukraine, she said.

“The services are constantly trading in ammunition to pay for shiny items,” Flurnoy said. “We need to focus here.”

Luria said the nation must reassess the policy of “strategic ambiguity” that has driven the United States’ commitment for years to help Taiwan defend itself if China invades. Luria said the United States must move to “strategic clarity” and explicitly state that it will defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion.

Mac Thornbury, a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has suggested that Putin may have considered other issues than brutal military power when he decided to invade Ukraine.

“You can say that Putin may have been [also] looking at our divisions in the internal market and a whole range of factors, and I thought maybe this was a time when he could get away with it, ”Thornbury said. “Remember, deterrence is in the mind of the adversary.”

Stephen Lowey is an air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously reported on Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. He previously covered US Air Force leadership, personnel and operations.


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