The task force, led by Ely Ratner, is engaged in a sprint to identify priorities for the Defense Department with regards to the near-peer, Asian competitor, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.
Kirby spoke during a press briefing, where he also discussed DOD’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
Austin provided initial guidance to the China Task Force, which draws participants from the office of the secretary of defense, the Joint Staff, the armed services, the combatant commands and the intelligence community. “Today’s meeting is intended to formalize the mission, timing and outputs of the task force as they work towards a baseline assessment of departments, policies, programs and processes on China-related matters,” Kirby said.
The task force will finish in about four months. At the end, DOD officials want to provide Austin with specific and actionable recommendations and milestones to meet the China challenge. Over the years, there have been many initiatives that addressed growing Chinese provocations in many areas. The secretary wants an assessment of the best ways to defend the international, rules-based order that has kept great power peace since the end of World War II.
The DOD effort is part of the government’s look at U.S.-China relations. The DOD China Task Force will specifically look at the DOD’s interaction with China, Kirby said. “What the secretary wants Mr. Ratner to do is to look at the pacing challenge that China poses to the department from our perspective, and what we need to do to make sure we’re ready to meet that challenge,” Kirby said.
The finding will be used as part of the Global Posture Review that is already going on in the department.