“The cornerstone of America’s defense is still deterrence, ensuring that our adversaries understand the folly of outright conflict,” United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in Hawaii on April 30 during a change of command ceremony for the US Indo-Pacific Command.
He quoted United States President Kennedy’s statement in 1961, “only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.”
“You know, that principle still resonates today—and we are still the best in this business,” Austin said. “We are ready now, and our enduring strength is rooted in the spirit of our democracy—including the ability to change course, to make use of the talents of all our people, and to draw on the values of liberty.”
However, he said “being the best today isn’t a guarantee of being the best tomorrow… not in an age when technology is changing the character of warfare itself… and not at a time when our potential adversaries are very deliberately working to blunt our edge.”
“So our challenge is to ensure that our deterrence holds strong for the long haul, across all realms of potential conflict,” the Pentagon chief said.
Secretary Austin also said that “the way we’ll fight the next major war is going to look very different from the way we fought the last ones.”
“We all need to drive toward a new vision of what it means to defend our nation. In this young century, we need to understand faster, decide faster, and act faster. Our new computing power isn’t an academic exercise,” he explained.
“Galloping advances in technology mean changes in the work we do to keep the United States secure across all five domains of potential conflict—not just air, land, and sea but also space and cyberspace. They mean we need new capacities and operational flexibility for the fights of the future,” he said.