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Haraz N. Ghanbari, Associated Press
President Barack Obama, joined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, at left, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, at right, and various senior Defense Department and military officials, speaks on the Defense Strategic Review, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, at the Pentagon.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is looking beyond the wars he inherited to focus on Asian security risks — like China and North Korea — that took a back seat to Iraq and Afghanistan.

This marks a turning point not only for the U.S. military but also for Obama, entering the final year of his White House term.

Facing a re-election battle, he is declaring success in Iraq and Afghanistan and taking a forward-looking stance on the how to preserve American military pre-eminence.

A prominent theme of a new defense strategy that Obama unveiled Thursday is reasserting America's position in the Asia-Pacific region.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes the U.S. got so bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 that it missed chances to improve its strategic position in other regions.