Pentagon & Congress

Biden announces new Pentagon-run China task force

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced at the Pentagon a review of how the military is postured to deter China in the Pacific region.

Biden, who was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris as he made his first visit to the department since taking office, said the review will help “chart a strong path forward on China-related matters.”

“It will require a whole-of-government efforts, bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and strong alliances and partners,” Biden said. “That is how we will meet the China challenge and ensure the American people win the competition of the future.”

The effort, described by the department as a “sprint,” is aimed at delivering its findings to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin within four months; however, the report is not expected to include a public-facing document.

It will be made up of “up to” 15 civilian and uniformed officials, and will be led by Ely Ratner, a former deputy national security adviser to Biden who joined the department as Austin’s special assistant on China.

Per a department fact sheet, the authors will take a deep dive into the department’s strategy; operational concepts; technology and force structure; force posture and force management; intelligence; alliances and partnerships; and military relations with China.

Under the Trump administration, the Defense Department shifted itself to focus more on China, with resources increasing to the Pacific and the creation of the new role of deputy assistant secretary of defense to solely focus on China.

A focus on the Asian country appears to be one of the few areas where the Trump and Biden administrations share common ground, as Biden has signaled a whole-of-government approach, including appointing Kurt Campbell as the White House Asia coordinator.

The review joins a growing number of oversight efforts launched by Austin since his Jan. 22 confirmation. Last week, Austin announced a broad force global posture review as well as a 60-day “stand down” period during which commanders are to discuss extremism in the military. He also issued guidance that environmental issues should be factored into strategic planning and the budget.

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