US Defence Secretary Robert Gates believes preparing the US military to fight two major conventional wars is “out of date” and wants the top brass to start planning for multiple operations in the US and scuffles around the planet.

“We now recognise that America’s ability to deal with threats for years to come will depend importantly on our success in the current conflicts,” Gates said Monday as he unveiled the 2010 Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR), the military’s strategic outlook.

Noting that this is the first time the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been included in a QDR as long—term planning priorities, he said the previous idea of planning for two conventional wars was “too confining and did not represent the real world that... our military forces are going to face in the future”.

The quadrennial review is a congressionally mandated document in which the Pentagon looks at future threats and the requirements to mitigate them.

It was released the same day as the defence department budget totalling $708.3 billion for fiscal 2011, up $44 billion over last year, including funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The review still favours keeping a close watch on China. “The lack of transparency and the nature of China’s military development and decision-making processes raise legitimate questions about its future conduct and intentions within Asia and beyond,” it says.

The 2006 review was heavily focused on the threat of a large-scale conventional war with China and that country’s sabre rattling over Taiwan.

The 2010 version still stresses such threats from China, but also looks at the need to defend against a growing threat of cyberattacks -- without directly tying China to past cyberattacks, according to Pentagon officials.

In another area, intelligence shows that terrorists have plotted to get their hands on biological, chemical or nuclear material to attempt attacks, and the Pentagon expects weapons of mass destruction to be a continued threat in the future.

In response, Gates said, the military “will expand capabilities to counter WMD threats, strengthen interdiction operations, refocus intelligence requirements, enhance and grow international partnerships and thwart proliferation”.

The report recommends that the Pentagon develop a joint task force headquarters to oversee these operations.

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