The Pentagon’s deputy defense secretary has provided a bare-bones breakdown of the 11-page, unclassified summary of the National Defense Strategy, boiling it down to a single page during a keynote at the West 2018 conference in San Diego, California.
The Department of Defense released the NDS summary Jan. 19, but Patrick Shanahan condensed it for conference attendees on Feb. 6. He provided six bullet points in the stripped-down synopsis of the NDS.
The first is “long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia.” He noted they circled strategic and competition. On the strategic front, “we really tasked people to take a hard look at their calendar. If they’re spending an hour a month on strategy, they’re irrelevant,” he said.
On competition, he said the NDS is about strengthening DoD’s competitiveness. “It’s not about China, it’s not about Russia, it’s about competing. And there are no such things as fair competition; there is just competition,” he said.
The real message to take from the second bullet, “combat-credible, forward-presence in Asia and Europe,” is “let’s not just acknowledge that we will operate in a contested environment; let’s embrace the fact that we’ll operate in a contested environment,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan’s third bullet surrounds sustainable missions in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The biggest change in the NDS, Shanahan said, stems from his fourth bullet: “dynamic force posture and employment.”
“It’s really about how we’ll be faster and how we’ll make decisions about distributing resources differently than we do today,” he said.
Shanahan said the last two bullets — “lethal, resilient and agile Joint Force” and “delivers performance at affordability and speed” — go together.
The big focus here is defining lethality, resilience and agility beyond putting them on PowerPoint charts.
Bridging the two together, Shanahan said development modernization and providing new capability is not the enemy of cost. “We must make our systems and products affordable,” he said, adding that in the commercial world cost is much more dominant in decision-making and the design criteria.
“I would offer that our biggest opportunity is to be smarter and faster when it comes to the development of these programs and their affordability,” he said.