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.
  • E-mail updates reflecting changes in the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) schedules will be sent as they occur.
  • Components will deliver an original read-ahead plus nine (9) copies of SD read-aheads using the attached guidelines and templates to Ms. Belinda Purifoy in room 3E880. Components will email DSD read-ahead material to in lieu of hard copies. 
  • Deadline for read-aheads is 1200 two workdays prior to a scheduled event unless specified earlier.  For example, 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.
  • Components must notify the Executive Secretary at (703)692-7120 if they anticipate being late submitting a read-ahead.
  • Primary offices are responsible for coordinating with secondary offices and consolidating material into a single product to avoid unnecessary duplication. Coordinating offices are responsible for timely coordination.  Primary offices will complete all coordination before submitting the read-ahead.
  • Component principal or senior official must review, approve and initial all read-ahead packages before submission.
  • For some meetings, the Secretary’s office may host a preparatory coordination meeting to ensure the agenda and materials meet the objectives.  In that case, read-ahead packages will be due 48 hours prior to the prep session.
  • When preparing classified documents, refer to DoD 5200.1-PH, the DoD Guide to marking classified documents. Classified read-aheads must contain appropriate portion markings.
  • The point of contact regarding questions about specific topics or required coordination is  Ms. Belinda Purifoy at 703-692-7120/7122, or one of the Executive Secretariat Military Assistants at (703) 692-7125.
  • Use plain English, minimizing jargon and the use of acronyms;
  • Avoid redundancy;
  • Bold or underline key words and use bold subject headers;
  • Highlight important points in yellow (digitally when possible);
  • Use bullets in the body of the read ahead.  With some exceptions, do not exceed three lines per bullet.

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).