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Pentagon announces new classified programs to counter China

Pentagon announces new classified programs to counter China
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Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinBiden to host Afghan president at White House on Friday Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE on Wednesday directed the Pentagon to start several new initiatives to counter China, though details were scarce on what exactly the efforts would be.

Senior defense officials told reporters that the internal directive will “address the challenge from China,” mainly through better cooperation with U.S. allies and partners, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This directive from the secretary is ultimately about getting the department's house in order and ensuring that the department lives up to the stated prioritization of China as the No. 1 pacing challenge,” one official said.

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But it was unclear how the initiatives — the result of recommendations made by a 23-member Defense Department task force President BidenJoe BidenExpanding child tax credit could lift 4 million children out of poverty: analysis Maria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back MORE set up in February — would be different from those already in place, as several of the new efforts will be classified.

The United States for the last several years has made countering China a top priority of its national security policy and has clashed with Beijing over what Washington views as violations of international rules and norms.

Both Austin and Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenKim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US The Senate just passed the next Apollo program Young Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' MORE in recent months have criticized China for what they describe as aggressive, coercive and destabilizing behavior in the region, particularly its military activities in the disputed South China Sea.

In the most recent such example, the Chinese military reportedly conducted an amphibious landing exercise in the waters near Taiwan after three U.S. senators visited Taipei on Sunday.

Wednesday’s directive would work against such actions by improving the Pentagon’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,” Austin said in a statement.

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It would also touch on where U.S. forces are placed when it comes to the Indo-Pacific, but officials would not offer details.  

“We did take a close look at our force posture in the Indo-Pacific and have delivered recommendations in that regard,” one official said. “I’m not going to get into specifics about the classified directive or the assessment.”

The Biden administration late last month revealed its proposed defense budget, which called for moving billions of dollars away from older weapons systems and going instead to new technologies aimed toward competing with China.

The plan would set aside about $5.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, the fund created by Congress to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.

But Republican lawmakers have since criticized the budget as too small and not focused enough to truly meet the challenges posed by China.