"The way I see it, my job as Secretary of Defense is to make you more effective at doing yours," Austin said. "That means ensuring you have the tools, technology, weapons, and training to deter and defeat our enemies. It means establishing sound policy and strategy and assigning you clear missions. It means putting a premium on cooperation with our allies and partners. And it means living up to our core values, the same ones our fellow citizens expect of us."
During his confirmation hearing this week, Austin, a retired four-star Army general, pledged to conduct multiple DOD reviews to inform the 2022 National Defense Strategy.
Austin, in his message to DOD, said his first job is help the nation "get control" of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans.
"You have already come to the aid of our nation's health care professionals," Austin said. "You can expect that mission to continue."
Austin said DOD must help the federal government "move further and faster" to eradicate the disease.
"To that end, we will also do everything we can to vaccinate and care for our workforce and to look for meaningful ways to alleviate the pressure this pandemic has exerted on you and your families," he said.