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America is a nation at war. We face a diverse set of security challenges. Yet, we still live in an era of advantage and opportunity.

The National Defense Strategy outlines an active, layered approach to the defense of the nation and its interests. It seeks to create conditions conducive to respect for the sovereignty of nations and a secure international order favorable to freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity. This strategy promotes close cooperation with others around the world who are committed to these goals. It addresses mature and emerging threats.


Secure the United States from direct attack. We will give top priority to dissuading, deterring, and defeating those who seek to harm the United States directly, especially extremist enemies with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Secure strategic access and retain global freedom of action. We will promote the security, prosperity, and freedom of action of the United States and its partners by securing access to key regions, lines of communication, and the global commons.

Strengthen alliances and partnerships. We will expand the community of nations that share principles and interests with us. We will help partners increase their capacity to defend themselves and collectively meet challenges to our common interests.

Establish favorable security conditions. Working with others in the U.S. Government, we will create conditions for a favorable international system by honoring our security commitments and working with other nations to bring about a common appreciation of threats; the steps required to protect against these threats; and a broad, secure, and lasting peace.


Assure allies and friends. We will provide assurance by demonstrating our resolve to fulfill our alliance and other defense commitments and help protect common interests.

Dissuade potential adversaries. We will work to dissuade potential adversaries from adopting threatening capabilities, methods, and ambitions, particularly by developing our own key military advantages.

Deter aggression and counter coercion. We will deter by maintaining capable and rapidly deployable military forces and, when necessary, demonstrating the will to resolve conflicts decisively on favorable terms.

Defeat adversaries. At the direction of the President, we will defeat adversaries at the time, place, and in the manner of our choosing setting the conditions for future security.


Four guidelines structure our strategic planning and decision making.

Active, layered defense. We will focus our military planning, posture, operations,, and capabilities on the active, forward, and layered defense of our nation, our interests, and our partners.

Continuous transformation. We will continually adapt how we approach and confront challenges, conduct business, and work with others.

Capabilities based approach. We will operationalize this strategy to address mature and emerging challenges by setting priorities among competing capabilities.

Managing risks. We will consider the full range of risks associated with resources and operations and manage clear tradeoffs across the Department.

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