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NEWS | March 3, 2023

Secretary of Defense charts path forward in message to force

DOD News

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III released a message to the force March 2 reinforcing the Defense Department's priorities and charting the way forward.

The new missive comes two years after the secretary's first message to the force, which outlined his priorities to defend the Nation from enemies foreign and domestic.

In his message, Austin detailed the progress made and emphasized that the same three priorities still guide the Department's efforts. "Since Day One as secretary of defense, I have been guided by three priorities: defending the nation, taking care of our people and succeeding through teamwork," he said. "Over the past two years, we've made tremendous progress in all three areas, and I'd like to thank each one of you for your commitment and hard work."

The 2022 National Defense Strategy detailed integrated deterrence, campaigning, and building enduring advantages as the route to achieve these goals.

"Implementing our strategy means tackling the pacing challenge from the People's Republic of 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," the secretary said in the message. "We must also defend against and deter threats from Iran, North Korea and global terrorist organizations, even while we grapple with 21st century, transnational challenges, such as climate change. Finally, we'll continue to modernize the joint force and ‘out-innovate' our competitors."

These are complex and involved missions for the U.S. military, but Austin said the force is up to these challenges. "We have the best fighting force in history, and our military families, civilian and contractor workforce, and domestic and international allies and partners are without equal," he said.

The secretary thanked all members of the department for all they do each day to defend the United States and the liberties and freedoms the nation stands for. "Together, we will continue to tackle the challenges of this decisive decade to meet our sacred obligation to defend the American people," he concluded.