Acting SecDef Shanahan’s First Message: “China, China, China.”

Acting SecDef Shanahan’s First Message: “China, China, China.”

In his first day on the job, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan gathered civilian leaders of the military services to deliver a simple message: “China, China, China.”

The comments, shared with reporters Wednesday by a defense official, came as the department continues to reposition forces and refocus modernization programs to meet the rising military prowess of China and Russia — but China’s stronger economy means Beijing is pulling ahead of Moscow in upgrading its forces and hacking US defense firms and government agencies to steal innovative technologies.

Shanahan’s marching orders come just weeks before the Pentagon’s 2020 budget is due to be released, which will provide the most tangible evidence of where the department is heading. Shanahan played a central role in putting together the budget, as well as spending much of his time as Mattis’s deputy focusing on cyber initiatives and acquisition reform.

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