WASHINGTON — The unclassified version of the U.S. national defense strategy released by the Defense Department Oct. 27 forecasts a decades-long competition with China and lays out priorities for the military going forward. 

In the introduction to the strategy, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says China “remains our most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades.” Meanwhile, the United States will continue to respond to Russia’s “reckless invasion of Ukraine” and support efforts by the NATO alliance.

 With regard to outer space, the strategy warns that China and other rivals are likely to target U.S. satellites in a conflict in order to cripple the military’s access to critical services, and calls for greater use of commercial space technologies to enhance U.S. defense. 

“Because the cyber and space domains empower the entire force, we will prioritize building resilience in these areas,” says the strategy. 

The document validates the Pentagon’s plan to build a multi-layer network of missile-defense and missile-tracking satellites, and to supplement military space networks with commercial systems.

DoD will “reduce adversary incentives for early attack by fielding diverse, resilient and redundant satellites constellations .. and we will bolster our ability to fight through disruption by improving defensive capabilities and increasing options for reconstitution.”

The strategy says DoD “will increase collaboration with the private sector in priority areas, especially with the commercial space industry, leveraging its technological advancements and entrepreneurial spirit to enable new capabilities.”

The Pentagon also included in the document the unclassified nuclear posture review and missile defense review. “By weaving these documents together, the entire Department is matching resources to goals,” DoD said.

The national defense strategy is a companion document to the broader national security strategy the White House released Oct. 12.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...