US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed the Pentagon on Wednesday to sharpen its focus on China, which the United States has tagged as its top strategic rival.
"Now, it is up to the Department to get to work," Austin said after issuing an internal directive to the giant Pentagon bureaucracy.
The directive, details of which are classified, comes after an assessment by a task force established by the new Biden administration in February to study the Defense Department's strategy towards China.
"The initiatives I am putting forward today are nested inside the larger US government approach to China and will help inform the development of the National Defense Strategy we are working on," Austin said.
A senior defense official said the task force had identified a "'say-do' gap between the stated prioritization of China and what we saw in a number of areas related to attention and resources and processes."
"The directive today is really about ensuring that the department lives up to that prioritization," the official said.
Austin said the directive will "improve the Department's ability to revitalize our network of allies and partners, bolster deterrence, and accelerate the development of new operational concepts, emerging capabilities, future force posture, and a modernized civilian and military workforce."
Pentagon operations over the past two decades have been focused largely on dealing with jihadist militants in the Middle East and not a modern army such as that of China.