Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued instructions to “laser focus” the military to address China as our one adversary, according to the Department of Defense.
Austin issued the directive Wednesday after receiving information on the challenges China presented to the United States from a classified document out of a task force he set up in February, according to the Defense Department’s website.
“The efforts I am directing today will improve the department’s ability to revitalize our network of allies and partners, bolster deterrence, and accelerate the development of new operational concepts, emerging capabilities, future force posture and a modernized civilian and military workforce,” Austin said in a statement.
Yesterday, I issued an internal directive kicking off @DeptofDefense wide efforts that will help bolster our deterrence against the PRC, revitalize our network of regional allies & partners, and accelerate the development of cutting-edge capabilities & new operational concepts. pic.twitter.com/Y1IacKrfTM
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) June 10, 2021
The directive is classified, but a senior Department of Defense official shared one example of the extent of the message. “To ensure that the department has the people that we need to compete effectively, the secretary has tasked … the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness with updating professional military education and civilian professional development, to align the department with the prioritization of China,” the official said.
President Joe Biden ordered the Pentagon in February to create a task force to review our policy toward China, saying the Chinese actions on the global stage require a new strategy. The task force created a plan to counter China using our military, economic, political, and other capabilities.
Austin proposed a $715 billion Defense Department budget in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. He said the funding would help the U.S. match the challenge he sees in China, according to CNN.
One piece of that budget includes $5 billion for a “Pacific Defense Initiative” in 2022. The five-year initiative will upgrade forces around the region. These include the Aegis Ashore missile defense system for Guam, new radar defenses for Hawaii, more intelligence and surveillance assets, more Navy, Air Force, and Marine troops in the region, and more training with allies, according to CNN.
Republican Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed called this initiative an incentive for the Pentagon to focus on the region more in its annual budget process, according to CNN.
“The most significant military threat that we’re focused on — and you’ve heard me say this probably 100 times senator[Dan Sullivan] — is China,” Austin said when asked whether he would be distracted by other issues over China, according to CNN.
“The initiatives I am putting forward today are nested inside the larger U.S. government approach to China and will help inform the development of the National Defense Strategy we are working on,” Austin said in a written statement.
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