United States: Future challenges; Strategy developments; US Army; US Navy; US Air Force; Long Range Strike Bomber: decision; Defence Economics; Budgetary uncertainty returns; Service budgets and spending priorities; Reform measures

An increasingly complex international security situation meant there was little space for radically new strategy initiatives in 2015. Indeed, the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) were still relatively recent, and as the Obama administration winds down, its main defence priorities are unlikely to change. It will be content to avoid a budgetary showdown with Congress and to find some way to sustain its preferred military plan, ideally with enough funds to avoid the need for a significant change of direction.

However, the strategic picture for US defence has markedly changed from that which greeted President Barack Obama back in 2008. The fundamentals will remain the same, dictated by the rise of China and attendant economic and security concerns, as well as concerns over the potential impact on security of an increasingly globalised and urbanised world. However, his successor will face a complex security environment that is likely to be further buffeted by the actions of an energised Russia willing and able to act in pursuit of its interests in a way unanticipated two years before; an unstable Middle East; and a set of European allies increasingly worried by the effect of all the above.

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