It was to be a change in focus away from the Middle East and looking towards Asia, particularly China.
In January of this year the Pentagon under directions from the Trump Administration and the advice of senior Pentagon officials changed their official National Defense Strategy away from Terrorism and the Middle East to Russia and China as well as other non-democratic state actors such as North Korea, Cuba, and other communist aligned nations.
The South China Sea is now the number one hot spot in the geopolitical world and its getting hotter every day as China begins to challenge America's Freedom of Navigation Operations even in international waters in that region.
What China is doing in the South China Sea has been compared to what Imperial Japan did in the lead up to WWII which was gobbling up rocks, reefs and islands from neighboring nations and using them to launch military operations in order to quite literally take over the world.
I have said previously that China today is the new Imperial Japan of WWII, Iran and its constant claims to wipe the Jewish State of Israel off the map represents the Nazi Germany of WWII and Russia is still Russia. Unfortunately war never stops, it just moves locations.
China is now importing more than 80% of its food sources from other countries. It is forced to do this because of its growing population, it's out of control urbanization/urban sprawl, out of control pollution problems and growing lack of quality farm land. This is almost identical to what happened to Japan in the lead up to WWII. It couldn't feed itself and was forced to go outward and fight in order to maintain stability.