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News | Dec. 13, 2021

DOD official outlines 2022 National Defense Strategy

By Terri Moon Cronk DOD News

The Defense Department's new National Defense Strategy, due in early 2022, will be a plan to deal with an increasingly complicated and complex security landscape, said Mara E. Karlin, performing the duties of deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.

Karlin made her remarks virtually from the Pentagon to the Center for a New American Security on "Mission Brief: The Next National Defense Strategy" in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9.

The DOD has recognized China as its pacing threat, a topic that was included in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and China remains a challenge that is growing ever more acute, the undersecretary said.

The new NDS will get after the China challenge while ensuring that the DOD is responsibly working with its closest allies and partners to deal with many of other challenges that it sees metastasizing or shifting and not going away, she added.

An aerial view of the Pentagon.
Pentagon Point
An aerial view of the Pentagon, May 11, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 210512-D-BM568-1203

"Every national defense strategy has to look at the force-planning construct — what is it that the military should be sized and shaped to execute? This national defense strategy, like the others, will, of course, have a force-planning construct," Karlin said.

The National Defense Strategy is the umbrella of the National Security Strategy, she explained, adding that the National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review and the Missile Defense Review are nested under it. That's particularly notable because it requires some serious kind of intellectual consistency, and that is consistency as one thinks about budgets, resources and capabilities, she noted. 

The cornerstone of the new National Defense Strategy will be the secretary of defense's concept of integrated deterrence, Karlin said.

A woman gives remarks during a virtual event.
Mission Briefing
Performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, Mara E. Karlin virtually participates in the Mission Brief: The Next National Defense Strategy discussion, as part of the Center for a New American Security mission brief speaker series at the Pentagon, Dec. 9, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase
VIRIN: 211209-F-BM568-1003A

"The concept of integrated deterrence reminds us how it has to be really front and center to how we think about dealing with challenges," the undersecretary said. 

"The idea of integrated deterrence means that you are integrating across your domains, so as I'm looking at a challenge, how does cyber play into it? How does space play into it? [We won't] just go to our traditional thinking of air, maritime and ground. Take that and think through them. How do you integrate across domains? How do you integrate across the whole of government? When we see a challenge, how do we make sure that we are using the military when it fits for a purpose? We're thinking about diplomacy, and indeed leading with diplomacy. It also means integrating across allies and partners," Karlin said.