SECDEF Lloyd Austin’s Message to the Force
March 4, 2021 USNI
The following is the March 4, 2021 Department of Defense memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Message to the Force
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE EMPLOYEES
SUBJECT: Message to the Force
As the Secretary of Defense, I am committed to ensuring that the Department develops the right people, priorities, and purpose of mission to continue to defend our Nation from enemies foreign and domestic. This will require aligning our priorities and capabilities to a changing and dynamic threat landscape. We will do so in a way that is based on a sober assessment of our strategic needs and recognize the importance of building and sustaining a strong workforce and unity within our Department, across the Nation and with our allies and partners around the world.
Three priorities -defending the Nation, taking care of our people, and succeeding through teamwork – will guide our efforts.
DEFEND THE NATION
Defeat COVID-19. The greatest proximate challenge to our Nation’s security is the threat of COVID-19. The Department will continue to act boldly and quickly to support Federal Government efforts to defeat the disease, defend the force against it, and work with our domestic and international partners to protect our Nation from potential novel and deadly viruses of the future. We will continue to provide direct support to the Federal Government’s vaccination efforts and encourage vaccination participation by military personnel to remain ready and able to continue to protect our Nation at home and abroad. Both of these challenges demand of us an aggressive effort to inform and educate people about the safety and efficacy of available vaccines and protective measures.
Prioritize China as the Pacing Challenge. The Department will prioritize China as our number one pacing challenge and develop the right operational concepts, capabilities, and plans to bolster deterrence and maintain our competitive advantage. We will ensure that our approach toward China is coordinated and synchronized across the enterprise to advance our priorities, integrated into domestic and foreign policy in a whole-of-government strategy, strengthened by our alliances and partnerships, and supported on a bipartisan basis in Congress.
Address Advanced and Persistent Threats. Even as we address accelerating competition by China, we will ensure that we remain fully ready to respond to and effectively deter nation-state threats emanating from Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and disrupt transnational and non-state actor threats from violent extremist organizations, such as those operating in the Middle East, Africa, and South and Central Asia. We will seek to impose cost where necessary, while using all of our tools to lower the risk of escalation with our adversaries and respond to challenges below the level of armed conflict. We will continue to maintain credible deterrence against advanced threats, and we will right-size our missions around the world in a transparent and principled manner.
Innovate and Modernize the DoD. The Department will innovate at a speed and scale that matches a dynamic threat landscape. This will require advances in our joint warfighting concepts and a commitment to rapid experimentation and fielding of capabilities. Where necessary, we will divest of legacy systems and programs that no longer meet our security needs, while investing smartly for the future. In turn, we will improve the efficiency of the force and guarantee freedom of action in contested, complex operating environments.
Tackle the Climate Crisis. We face a growing climate crisis that is impacting our missions, plans, and capabilities and must be met by ambitious, immediate action. In line with the President’s direction, we will elevate climate as a national security priority, integrating climate considerations into the Department’s policies, strategies, and partner engagements. We will incorporate climate risk assessments into our war-gaming, modeling, and simulation, and we will bolster mission resilience and deploy solutions that optimize capability and reduce our own carbon footprint. Where possible, we will seek to lead the way for alternative climate-considered approaches for the country.