Reform

Great Power Competition's Resurgence

March 21, 2019 | BY C. Todd Lopez

What's great power competition?  It's when large nations vie for the greatest power and influence — not just in their own parts of the world, but also farther out. The United States enjoys a lead there now, but other nations are nipping at its heels.

A man and woman speak to each other.
Power Competition
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks about great power competition with CNN reporter Barbara Starr at an event in Washington as part of the NATO Atlantic Council’s Commanders Series, March 21, 2019.
Photo By: Jim Garamone, DOD
VIRIN: 190321-D-ZZ999-083C

In the 1990s, the U.S. didn't have a peer competitor, economically, diplomatically, or militarily, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during an event in Washington held as part of the NATO Atlantic Council’s Commanders Series.

A fighter jet over Europe
Fly Over
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon gains altitude near Aviano Air Base, Italy, Jan. 28, 2019. The 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano is home to the 555th and 510th Fighter Squadrons, capable of offensive and defensive air combat operations.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron
VIRIN: 190128-F-RA696-1033C

From a military perspective, Dunford said, the path of capability development both nations have pursued challenges the United States in a number of areas.

The U.S. military strategy considers the U.S. military network of allies and partners as one of its greatest strengths. The ability to project power, when and where needed, is another great strength, the chairman said.

Ships at sea.
Sea Ships
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey receives a probe from the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry during a replenishment at ea, Oct. 18, 2017. USS Halsey was deployed with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, conducting maritime security, forward presence and theater security operations in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.
Photo By: Navy Seaman Nicholas Burgains
VIRIN: 171018-N-AZ808-051C

"They both recognize those strengths," he said. "They both recognize the strength of our allies and partners. … "Having carefully studied the U.S. ability to project power in 1991, 1992, and 2003, ... they recognize the competitive advantage we’ve had historically, and what they are seeking to do is undermine the credibility of our alliance structure in Europe and in the Pacific, as the case may be."

Aircraft fly over Europe
Trident Juncture
U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys take off following a simulated casualty evacuation at a media event held during Exercise Trident Juncture 18. The Royal Netherlands Navy ship HNLMS Johan de Witt can be seen in the background.
Photo By: Robert L Kunzig
VIRIN: 181030-N-YG116-704C

From a military perspective, Dunford said, those two nations are developing capabilities of their own to contest the U.S. ability to move to meet alliance  commitments, or operate once there, in air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.