WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (KUNA) -- US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stressed Saturday that the next few years would set "the terms of our competition with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and they will shape the future of security in Europe."
"To shape this decisive decade, we're driving hard to further strengthen America's deterrence," Austin said in a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California.
He added, "We're taking on the generational pacing challenge posed by the People's Republic of China and we're tackling the acute threat of (Vladimir) Putin's Russia and defending the rules-based international order that keeps us all secure."
On China, Austin said it is "The only country with both the will and increasingly, the power to reshape its region and the international order to suit its authoritarian preferences."
"So let me be clear: we will not let that happen," he stressed. "That begins with America's combat-credible deterrence. And we're going to sustain and sharpen our warfighting advantages so that the PRC can never conclude that aggression is in its best interest."
He continued, "We're aligning our budget as never before to the China challenge."
He affirmed, "We're also deeply committed to responsibly managing our competition with the PRC, even as we defend our interests, our allies and our partners."
On Russia, the Pentagon chief said that "Putin's war is not the result of NATO expansion. It is the cause of NATO expansion."
"Russia's assault on its peaceful neighbor has shown every country on Earth the dangers of disorder," he added. "That's why so many countries of goodwill have raced to get Ukraine the capabilities to defend itself."
He continued, "So let's be clear. We will not be dragged into Putin's war.
But we will stand with Ukraine as it fights to defend its citizens and its sovereignty."
Finally, Austin said, "This is no time to hold back on our resources or our resolve."
"We will continue to make clear to any potential foe the folly of aggression against the United States, at any time or any place, in any theater or any domain," he remarked. (end)