Senator Hawley Releases Hold on Top Biden Pentagon Nominee, Leader of the Next National Defense Strategy

Monday, August 09, 2021

Last night, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) released his hold on Dr. Mara Karlin’s nomination to be the next Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities. Senator Hawley held Dr. Karlin’s nomination in order to ensure her commitment to a strategy of denial and a force planning construct that focuses on China. He released his hold after receiving a letter from Dr. Karlin in which she expressed just that.

“The 2018 National Defense Strategy revolutionized defense planning by embracing deterrence by denial and adopting a force planning construct that prioritizes China above all else, including simultaneous conflicts with lesser rivals,” said Senator Hawley. “It is imperative that we keep both of these concepts at the center of the next NDS. Dr. Karlin has strongly endorsed doing just that.”

As Dr. Karlin writes, and as the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command have testified, a strategy of denial is essential for deterring China. As Dr. Karlin further acknowledges, neither deterrence by cost-imposition nor horizontal escalation will be as effective for deterring Chinese aggression, especially against Taiwan.

The U.S. military will only be able to deter China, however, if it stays focused on this threat. The force planning construct will help it do just that by ensuring American forces are sized, shaped, and employed first and foremost to defeat Chinese aggression, even if that requires us to do less in other theaters, as Dr. Karlin notes in her letter.
If confirmed, Dr. Karlin is expected to lead development of President Biden’s national defense strategy.

Read Dr. Karlin’s letter to Senator Hawley here.