October 27, 2022
President Biden has stated that we are living in a “decisive decade,” one stamped by dramatic changes in geopolitics, technology, economics, and our environment. The defense strategy that the United States pursues will set the Department’s course for decades to come. The Department of Defense owes it to our All-Volunteer Force and the American people to provide a clear picture of the challenges we expect to face in the crucial years ahead—and we owe them a clear and rigorous strategy for advancing our defense and security goals.
The 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) details the Department’s path forward into that decisive decade—from helping to protect the American people, to promoting global security, to seizing new strategic opportunities, and to realizing and defending our democratic values. For the first time, the Department conducted its strategic reviews—the NDS, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Missile Defense Review (MDR)—in an integrated way, ensuring tight linkages between our strategy and our resources. The NDS directs the Department to act urgently to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence, with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the pacing challenge for the Department. The NDS further explains how we will collaborate with our NATO Allies and partners to reinforce robust deterrence in the face of Russian aggression while mitigating and protecting against threats from North Korea, Iran, violent extremist organizations, and transboundary challenges such as climate change.
The PRC remains our most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades. I have reached this conclusion based on the PRC’s increasingly coercive actions to reshape the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to fit its authoritarian preferences, alongside a keen awareness of the PRC’s clearly stated intentions and the rapid modernization and expansion of its military. As President Biden’s National Security Strategy notes, the PRC is “the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order, and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s unprovoked, unjust, and reckless invasion of Ukraine underscores its irresponsible behavior. Efforts to respond to Russia’s assault on Ukraine also dramatically highlight the importance of a strategy that leverages the power of our values and our military might with that of our Allies and partners. Together, we have marshalled a strong, unified response to Russia’s attack and proven the strength of NATO unity.
In these times, business as usual at the Department is not acceptable. The 2022 NDS lays out our vision for focusing the Defense Department around our pacing challenge, even as we manage the other threats of our swiftly changing world. It builds on my 2021 Message to the Force, which stressed as core values defending the nation, taking care of our people, and succeeding through teamwork.
Our central charge is to develop, combine, and coordinate our strengths to maximum effect. This is the core of integrated deterrence, a centerpiece of the 2022 NDS. Integrated deterrence means using every tool at the Department’s disposal, in close collaboration with our counterparts across the U.S. Government and with Allies and partners, to ensure that potential foes understand the folly of aggression. The Department will align policies, investments, and activities to sustain and strengthen deterrence—tailored to specific competitors and challenges and coordinated and synchronized inside and outside the Department.
The Department will also campaign day-to-day to gain and sustain military advantages, counter acute forms of our competitors’ coercion, and complicate our competitors’ military preparations. Campaigning is not business as usual—it is the deliberate effort to synchronize the Department’s activities and investments to aggregate focus and resources to shift conditions in our favor. Through campaigning, the Department will focus on the most consequential competitor activities that, if left unaddressed, would endanger our military advantages now and in the future.
Even as we take these steps, we will act with urgency to build enduring advantages for the future Joint Force, undertaking reforms to accelerate force development, getting the technology we need more quickly, and making investments in the extraordinary people of the Department, who remain our most valuable resource.
America has never been afraid of competition, and we do not shy away from tough challenges, especially when it comes to securing our national interests and defending our national values. To meet this moment, we will tap into our core strengths: our dynamic, diverse, and innovative society; our unmatched network of Allies and partners; and the tremendous men and women of our armed forces.
We live in turbulent times. Yet, I am confident that the Department, along with our counterparts throughout the U.S. Government and our Allies and partners around the world, is well positioned to meet the challenges of this decisive decade.
Read the full National Defense Strategy (PDF 7.96M)