With Russia, China and North Korea raising their military profiles, American military leaders are thinking about what might be next.
A former deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan already has a good idea.
"There's going to be combat, there are going to be issues,” retired Brigadier Gen. Anthony Tata told NBC 7 in an interview Thursday. “There are going to be movements on the geopolitical stage here that are going to create friction."
Tata, who served for 28 years, is not surprised by signs of trouble brewing for Uncle Sam around the world.
He’s come to see it as a familiar scenario when Administrations change in Washington.
“Any time you have a change of command, whether it’s at a rifle platoon level with 30 men and women all the way up to the Presidential level, you’re going to have a challenge to that level of authority. So in combat, the enemy will probe the wire just to see how the enemy reacts.”
Tata said he believes that assertive action -- not just talk -- on the part of the U.S. will deter or defeat threats from rival countries.
He was in San Diego to promote his seventh military novel, "Besieged", which has been highly reviewed, and caught attention in Hollywood.
Surveying the global landscape, Tata salutes what he calls "an aggressive foreign policy that establishes American dominance".
North Korea has been testing patience here and in the far East with its missile exercises meant to intimidate Japan, and raise fears that U.S. overseas bases and even the mainland will be targeted.
U.S. commanders have voiced frustration with how things in the Middle East and war with against the Islamic State are going.
"Instead of taking it on the chin every day," Tata notes that American forces are "starting to get crafty and creative" in their strategies and movements.
"We're putting great Americans at risk,” he said, “but consistent with the Administration's policy and plan, it is to re-establish American hegemony and American dominance in the world."
Tata added that he supports a request Thursday to Congress from Gen. John Nicholson, head of the U.S. Central Command, to boost American troop levels in Afghanistan -- now at their lowest point in five years – 8,400.
“If he needs a little bit of a shot in the arm right now, I think General Nicholson is right on the money, because I trust his judgment.”