For nearly a year US political leaders have been fighting over the federal budget. By 1 March they must either reach a deal or implement automatic and deep cuts drastically affecting the running of the military and the defence industry which it procures from.
As the UK sends 330 personnel to assist France's military intervention in Mali, there are real concerns that, like Afghanistan, the UK will be mired in another intractable conflict. However, the strategic conditions are very different for this to happen and it is wrong to assume there will be mission creep.
With US women now being allowed to participate in combat roles, the US military can be applauded for its move towards gender equality. But its driving imperative must remain a commitment to military effectiveness, and to the lives of the men and women who serve.