General Guidance on Read-Ahead Packages for the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary

  • This guidance covers read-ahead packages for all meetings, briefings, interviews, phone calls, and events involving the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) and Deputy (DepSecDef).  It includes procedures and templates for standard read-aheads, Principal Committee/National Security Council (PC/NSC) read-aheads, talking/discussion points, phone call talking points, and foreign visits.
  • Military Assistants and Executive Officers will receive Read-Ahead taskings from the Office of the Executive Secretary by e-mail.
  • E-mail updates reflecting changes in the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) schedules will be sent as they occur.
  • Primary offices are responsible for coordinating with secondary offices and consolidating material so there is a single product for each event with no unnecessary duplication.
  • If you need guidance about specific topics that should be addressed in Read-Aheads or required coordination for the SecDef, please call Ms. Belinda Purifoy or Ms. Jessica Walker at 703-692-7122/7162, and for the DepSecDef to the Non-Commissioned Officers at 703-692-7150.
  • Submit an original Read-Ahead plus nine (9) copies for SecDef/DepSecDef meetings in accordance with the attached guidelines and templates.
  • Read-Aheads for the SecDef should be delivered to Ms. Purifoy in Room 3E880 and for the DepSecDef to the Non-Commissioned Officers in room 3E944..
  • Deadline is 1200 (Noon) two workdays prior to a meeting, briefing, interview or event. (e.g., if the prep session for a visit is at 1400 on Wednesday, the Read-Ahead is due at 1200 on Monday; if a meeting is at 1000 Monday, the Read-Ahead is due at 1200 on Thursday the week prior.)
  • For some meetings, SecDefs/DepSecDefs office may host a preparatory coordination meeting to ensure the agenda and materials are designed to best meet the objectives of the Secretary or the Deputy. In that case, Read-Ahead packages may be due earlier. Responsible offices will be informed accordingly.

Guidelines for Preparing Read-Ahead Packages for the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary

  • Use short, succinct, and clear language. Ask yourself what the Secretary needs to know and why.
  • Analyze and distill data so that salient information and the bottom line are arrived at clearly and succinctly.
  • Provide examples to illustrate complex points or processes.
  • Use of acronyms is discouraged. No acronyms unless they have been previously spelled out.
  • Bullets for the body are preferred with a limit of three lines per bullet.
  • Bold or underline key words and use bold subject headers to differentiate different topics as necessary.

Format (see templates attached):

  • Read-Ahead/Background should be the first item in the package (no more than two (2) pages).
  • Talking/Discussion Points should be the second item in the package.
  • Minimize the number of attachments should include any documents that will be presented or referenced during the meeting and biographies.
  • Single-sided.
  • 1-inch left/right margins, 1-inch top and bottom margins.
  • Font should be 13 point, Times New Roman.
  • Double space between items, single space between bullets.
  • Include page number on all documents longer than one page.
  • Do not use room numbers, rather use: 1) SecDef Dining Room (for 3E918); 2) SecDef Conference Room (for 3E863); and 3) DepSecDef Conference Room (for 3E928).
  • Use 2-inch paperclips to fasten packages.
  • Use full names, not initials.
  • Refer to DoD 5200.1-PH, “DoD Guide to marking Classified Documents,” when classifying.
  • A Read-Ahead is considered final once it is given to the Secretary or the Deputy.
  • Changes: For revised Read-Ahead packages, note in the subject line or background paragraph that the submission is a revision. Underline or highlight the material that has been changed.  

Foreign Visitors:

  • Ensure to address precisely what the foreign visitor is doing with respect to the Secretary’s and/or Deputy’s priorities (prevailing in current conflicts, preventing proliferation, preparing for and countering future challenges and threats, preserving the finest fighting force and core national security capabilities within current budget environment);
  • Anything else the foreign visitor is doing to support U.S. security objectives; and
  • Basic defense relationship and country information, as relevant.
  • Provide a 3.88 note card
  • Include classification at the top and bottom center, the Foreign Dignitaries name, and phonetic pronunciation.
  • 4-5 main key talking points (full sentences not necessary, use bullets with key phrases).