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World wide tensions are low but the United States is actively engaged in world events. In the America's, the war on drug cartels has rescinded and while drug traffic remains, it is more characterized by corrupt governments than large regions defended with paramilitary forces. In Africa, large scale tribal disagreements remain, but states and regions are more focused on economic development than confrontation. In Asia, Indonesia has been fractured, but appears stable. Without a major regional peer competitor, China has stabilized with less than 4% of its Gross Domestic Product devoted to its armed forces. North Korea has collapsed, and the painful process of reintegration with the South has begun. South Korea is consumed by the economic burden of its sick northern component. The "stans" are still struggling with internal stability issues, but so far they are limited to small scale skirmishes. They are still an increased source of energy for the developing world. Russia, having begun to see a turnaround in its demographic crisis, has become reengage on the world stage as a major regional power. Given the instability in its southern regions, Russia feels compelled to rearm. A Palestinian state has been created, however their remains cross border tensions. Israel and Palestine -- in partnership -- are trying to contain the terrorism. Iraq is internally stable; Saudi Arabia and Iran are both muddling along with containable internal tensions. Syria remains a military state with increased spending to support its internal forces. Europe is stable and all is quiet on the Turkey-Cyprus front. North African states are struggling with their long term direction -- theological or secular, but the anxiety has not spilled north into Europe. Despite the apparent absence of regional tensions, the United States has been politically active around the world both in the United Nations and through regional alliances and bi-lateral relationships. The United States, while not seeking an overt empire, still seeks to aggressively shape various regions to assure the present stability remains. To some, the dominant presence of the US military is growing concern. It is both a source of stabilization and a magnet for counter balancing forces.
Foreign defense planning is primarily focused on the United States. In a robust economy, adversaries will attempt to develop advance conventional forces that are more like those of United States. There will be much interest in where the US is heading in military transformation and looking to develop counter-transformation capabilities and networked forces. Adversaries with poor economies will be dependent on WMD, including nuclear weapons, and terrorist acts, as the key deterrent against US military intervention. Allies with robust economies will attempt to develop systems that can continued to operate with US transformation capabilities and will use part of their defense budget to cosponsor R&D efforts with the United States. Others with poor economies, will use the opportunity of low regional tensions to devote funding to other non-defense priorities. At the same time, the U.S. military has undergone a massive buildup based on a modernized version of the Reagan military doctrine from the eighties, with large numbers of troops, marines, sailors, and airmen based around the world.
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