Foreign Policy reports: A Pentagon memo outlining the incoming Trump administration’s top “defense priorities” identifies defeating the Islamic State, eliminating budget caps, developing a new cybersecurity strategy, and finding greater efficiencies as the president-elect’s primary concerns. But the memo, obtained by Foreign Policy, does not include any mention of Russia, which has been identified by senior military officials as the No. 1 threat to the United States.
“People there now would be pretty concerned to see Russia not on the list,” said Evelyn Farkas, a former senior Pentagon official who worked on Russia policy before leaving in 2015.
For years, top cabinet officials at the Defense Department and the intelligence community cited Russia as the foremost threat because of its vast nuclear arsenal, sophisticated cyber capabilities, recently modernized military, and willingness to challenge the United States and its allies in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and other regions.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will remain in that role after Trump takes office Jan. 20, told Congress last year that no other threat is more serious.
“If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” Dunford told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.” He listed China, North Korea, and the Islamic State as the next biggest threats, in that order. [Continue reading…]