The Army chief of staff has a message for his commanders: If it doesn’t increase combat readiness, don’t do it.

Gen. Mark Milley on Tuesday also called out North Korea as the No. 1 threat to U.S. national security and asked the officers leading operational units to be ready to meet that threat and any other, taking their own units’ readiness into their hands.

“Do not wait on orders and printed, new regulations and new manuals. Do not wait on force structure changes. You and you alone are responsible for the readiness of your unit,” he said during the annual AUSA meeting in Washington, D.C. “Put simply, I want you to get ready for what might come, and do not do any tasks that do not directly contribute to increasing combat readiness in your unit.”

Readiness has long been Milley’s No. 1 priority, but the time when the Army might need to call on that readiness is closer than ever, he said.

“Why is it that we must be ready?” Milley asked. “Well, you don’t have to have access to top secret intelligence. All you have to do is pick up a newspaper or watch the news.”

That news, increasingly, is of threats from North Korea.

“It is on the Korean peninsula where, in my view, we find the most dangerous near-term threat to the U.S.,” he said.

Not only will well-trained, well-equipped soldiers give the Army the capacity to fight wars, but they also can be the key to preventing them, he added.

“Readiness deters enemies. It can end war quickly,” he said. “So, as soldiers, as America’s sentinels of freedom, we will pray for peace every day. But at the same time, the U.S. Army will prepare for war.”

But it’s not only up to commanders to keep the Army ready, Milley said.

“While commanders will prepare our force for today, we, the institution, must prepare our force for tomorrow,” he said.

To support that goal, the Army is standing up a modernization command.

“Faster results will be obtained through significant streamlining of processes, to a SOCOM-like model of ‘buy, try, decide and acquire’ – rather than the current industrial age, linear model that takes years to establish requirements, decades to test – and it may take a long, long time to go from idea to delivery,” Milley said.

The Army has to stay on the offense, he added, and they have to do it by staying ahead of competitors and ready to fight.