After receiving a classified report from the China Task Force, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued an internal directive to the Pentagon on Wednesday for the United States military to “laser focus efforts to address China as the nation’s number one pacing challenge.”

The China Task Force was set up earlier this year to address the “near-peer” competition with Bejing.

“The efforts I am directing today will improve the department’s ability to revitalize our network of allies and partners, bolster deterrence, and accelerate the development of new operational concepts, emerging capabilities, future force posture, and a modernized civilian and military workforce,” Austin said in a statement.

When pressed by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AR), if indeed China was the Pentagon’s primary focus or whether the department has been distracted by talk of climate change, Austin was adamant. 

“The most significant military threat that we’re focused on — and you’ve heard me say this probably 100 times, senator — is China,” Austin said.

During his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Austin said, “The Department [of Defense] must be ready to meet and keep pace with our competitors and, if necessary, to fight and win the next war, not the last one.”

Austin’s comments were reiterated by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley.

“From a strictly military standpoint, I think China is the Number One threat as we go forward,” said Milley.