Newly recruited Chinese soldiers in Jiaxing, China, March 29, 2022.

Newly recruited Chinese soldiers in Jiaxing, China, March 29, 2022. VCG via Getty Images / Cheng Jie

China Tops Threats in New Defense Strategy

An unclassified fact sheet outlines the Pentagon’s long-awaited capstone strategic guidance.

China is the No. 1 priority in the new National Defense Strategy, according to an unclassified fact sheet released Monday evening by the Defense Department.  

The fact sheet lists the Pentagon’s top four defense priorities, but makes clear that China is “our most consequential strategic competitor and the pacing challenge for the department.”

“Defending the homeland, paced to the growing multi-domain threat posed by the [People’s Republic of China],” is the top defense priority. The third priority is also aimed at China, saying that the department will focus on “deterring aggression, while being prepared to prevail in conflict when necessary,” with an emphasis placed on the potential for conflict with Beijing.

Though Russia “poses acute threats,” as evidenced by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, hostilities with Moscow are a secondary priority for the Pentagon, according to the fact sheet. The Pentagon must also remain ready to counter other “persistent threats,” such as those posed by North Korea, Iran and violent extremist groups. 

Other priorities on the fact sheet are deterring strategic attacks against the United States and its allies, and “building a resilient joint force.”

The full strategy, which the department sent to Congress on Monday, is classified. 

An unclassified version of the strategy will be released publicly “in the coming months,” Colin Kahl, the defense undersecretary for policy, said in a tweet.

The National Defense Strategy is the Pentagon’s “capstone strategic guidance,” a grand vision for the U.S. military‘s role in security. It lays out how the Defense Department can implement the president’s broader National Security Strategy—in this case, the Biden administration’s “Interim National Security Strategy” that was released in March 2021.

The release of the NDS is usually followed by an update to the National Military Strategy, a Joint Chiefs of Staff document that gives the armed services a framework for executing the NSS and NDS.

The Pentagon released the NDS fact sheet the same day it sent Congress its $773 billion budget request, which also focuses on China as the military’s top threat.