As secretary of defense, it is my responsibility to ensure that that the United States military is well-prepared to fight the fights of today while at the same time taking steps to ensure our institution will succeed long into the future. We have the finest force the world has ever known, and I am committed to ensuring that my successors will be able to say the same thing. Maintaining this perspective is paramount to confronting the complex challenges our nation faces.
Building on some of the decisions we made early this year, we have significantly accelerated our campaign against ISIL. We have built out new special operations capabilities in Iraq and Syria, stepped up our air campaign and are working with local, capable, motivated ground forces to pressure ISIL strongholds from multiple directions at once. Following the attacks in Paris, NATO allies Germany, the United Kingdom and France have all brought additional capabilities to coalition. I have personally reached out to nearly 40 allies and partners around the world asking them to step up their contributions. Together, ISIL is an evil that we must and will deliver a lasting defeat.
Russia and China have presented new challenges that demand our attention. We have built a new playbook with NATO allies that is both strong and balanced in the face of Russia's aggressive actions — confronting threats ranging from hybrid warfare to nuclear saber-rattling — while also holding the door open for Russia to get on the right side and work with the US and Europe on common challenges. We have made cyber security an even higher priority, both in defending our networks and in partnership with our closest allies like the United Kingdom, Israel and the Republic of Korea. In the Asia Pacific, we're bolstering support for allies and partners dealing with unprecedented land reclamation — predominantly by China — in the South China Sea. Peace and stability in the Asia Pacific, underwritten by decades of American military power, has allowed all nations to rise, prosper and win. We aim to keep it that way by furthering our investments in the region.
As we address these challenges here and now we can't lose sight of tomorrow's opportunities. A sound national defense strategy demands we have perspective in both space and time. That means ensuring we maintain our technological edge well into the next century and that we continue to recruit and retain the best people America has to offer.
A generation ago, most technology of consequence came from America and much of it from the Department of Defense. Today, the technology base is more commercial and the competition is global. In this new era, we must find ways to reinforce our essential defense partnership with American innovators, scientists and technologists both in and outside the traditional defense industrial base. That's why we're building bridges between the Pentagon and innovation hubs like Silicon Valley and Boston to leverage advances in cyber defense, big data analytics and biosciences. This goal is central to our mission to defend the nation because the US must maintain its advantage in science and technology to protect our people.
Technology will continue to be critically important to our military, but above all, our most enduring advantage is our people. I am committed to building the force of the future by attracting and competing for the best talent from new generations and drilling holes in the walls that separate government and the private sector so smart people can contribute their expertise to our mission of national defense. We must be open to the broadest possible pool of talent, which is why I recently announced the opening of all remaining military occupations and positions to women. We have an all-volunteer force, so for us to keep recruiting and retaining the best, the military has to continue to be recognized for what it is: the most rewarding and honorable place highly capable young men or women work and serve.
The decisions we will make over the course of 2016 will be vital for the long-term health of the Department of Defense and our alliances. Now that we have secured a multi-year budget agreement, we are looking to Congress to provide critical flexibility so we can make the most of this opportunity. We are looking to our allies to lean forward and uphold their share of responsibilities for defending the world order. And we are looking across the industrial base for leaders willing to work with us to make our nation stronger. Thanks to our strategy, technology and people, the United States is in a strong position — the US military will stand watch in every time zone and domain to make sure it stays that way next year and beyond.
Carter is US defense secretary.