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Defenders of the Quad: Austin arrives in India with new China playbook

Two militaries explore new areas of cooperation on Indo-Pacific security

Indian and American army soldiers mark the conclusion of the Yudh Abhyas exercise on Feb. 21 in India. The two-week exercise builds on "the enduring Indian-U.S. partnership" so as to improve "interoperability between the two nations, in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific," the American side says. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command)

NEW YORK -- Just as his E-4B aircraft, a militarized version of the Boeing 747, started to descend toward Hawaii on the first leg of his first international trip as secretary of defense over the weekend, Lloyd Austin repeated a phrase he has employed since his confirmation hearing.

"China is our pacing threat," the towering ex-infantryman told reporters. "Our goal is to make sure that we have the capabilities and the operational plans and concepts to be able to offer credible deterrence to China or anybody else who would want to take on the U.S."

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