“An increasingly aggressive China is trying to shape the international rules-based system to suit its authoritarian preferences,” Austin wrote in a March 2 message to the U.S. Armed Forces. “This is a generational challenge, and the Department will rise to meet it.
“To do so, we must embrace integrated deterrence, which charges us to coordinate our efforts across all war-fighting domains, theaters, and the spectrum of conflict to create new and more complex dilemmas for our adversaries.”
The U.S. National Defense Strategy labels China’s communist regime as the “pacing challenge” to the United States, and asserts that the regime is the only power on earth with both the will and capability to reshape the rules-based international order.
To that end, Austin wrote that the U.S. military would need to strengthen its posture in the Indo-Pacific and work with allies to more adequately deter Chinese communist aggression in the South and East China Seas and against Taiwan.
“We are strengthening our deterrence posture in the Indo-Pacific by developing new concepts and capabilities, deepening our alliances and partnerships, and expanding our activities and operations,” Austin wrote.
“Implementing our strategy means tackling the pacing challenge from [China] while also confronting the acute threat of Russian aggression and managing the risk of escalation as Putin’s cruel war against Ukraine enters a second year.”