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US nears releasing unclassified defence strategy

The Pentagon has shared a classified version of the 2022 National Defense Strategy with Congress. (Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden's administration plans to publicly release an unclassified version of its new National Defense Strategy (NDS) “shortly”, a White House official said on 27 September.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) sent a classified version of the 2022 NDS to Congress in March. The DoD's two-page “fact sheet” on the NDS describes China as “our most consequential strategic competitor and the pacing challenge for the department”.

Two other defence-related documents that the administration is drafting are unlikely to usher in significant policy changes, according to Cara Abercrombie, deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for defence policy and arms control at the White House's National Security Council.

The Conventional Arms Transfer Policy will mainly emphasise existing arms transfer practices, such as speeding weapon system deliveries to Ukraine, Abercrombie told the Common Defense (ComDef) conference in Rosslyn, Virginia. The policy will “help clarify” the administration's priorities but will “not effectively change” the way it conducts business.

The National Security Strategy, which is “coming soon”, will largely reflect the 24-page Interim National Security Strategic Guidance that the administration released in March 2021, Abercrombie said. “These are key principles that the president campaigned on, [and] he has a long career in foreign policy, so I don't think you'll see any real surprises but rather a sharper articulation of those themes,” she added.

Among the themes of the interim guidance is the importance of deepening co-operation with allies and partners, she said.

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