Deputy Secretary of Protection Dr. Kathleen Hicks Remarks in a Hearth Chat on the Particular Aggressive Research Mission’s Digital and In-Individual International Rising Know-how Summit

(UNKNOWN):  It is my distinct honor to introduce our subsequent speaker, Dr. Kathleen Hicks, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Protection.  Deputy Secretary Hicks has made expertise a essential precedence within the division and performs an integral position in main the division ahead.  She shall be joined by Ylber Bajraktari, Senior Advisor to SCSP, for our subsequent dialogue. 

Please be a part of me in welcoming Deputy Secretary Hicks.


YLBER BAJRAKTARI:  Ma’am, if that is …


OK.  Good afternoon, everybody.  Hey, good afternoon, Dr. Hicks.  Thanks very a lot for becoming a member of us.  It is nice to have you ever right here.  I do know you might have a really busy schedule so I recognize you taking the time to return and speak to us.

That is your third time on the Pentagon, for a formidable profession of almost 20 years in public service.  So recognize your service.  You got here to the Pentagon this time, I feel, very centered on the – what the Nationwide Protection Technique has known as the “pacing problem,” which is China.  However then a few 12 months into your tenure, this February, we had the Russian aggression of Ukraine.

So I used to be questioning in the event you may perhaps maybe begin us off by simply giving us your sense of the most recent in Ukraine after which the place do you suppose the division is on the pacing problem of China?

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE KATHLEEN HICKS:  Certain.  To begin with, thanks very a lot for having me and thanks for internet hosting such an vital convention on points that we care about so much on the protection division.

So let me begin first on how we take into consideration Russia and China, after which sort of undergo the Ukraine and China items.

In our Nationwide Protection Technique, we have referred to Russia as an acute menace, and I feel this Ukraine disaster actually demonstrates each side of that, “acute” that means it may be sharp and close to time period and probably extra transitory than the pacing problem that’s China.

So on Ukraine, itself, we clearly have seen actually super Ukrainian positive factors within the final week or so.  I feel the place we now have seen benefits to Ukraine it is because of many elements most centrally, in fact, the Ukrainians themselves.  But additionally it has to with the truth that there is a robust coalition.  The U.S., NATO and others who’re standing up for international locations defending their sovereignty who’re saying that the principles of the worldwide order do apply.

And international locations like Russia shouldn’t be attacking their neighbors and there are penalties while you achieve this.  I feel what we’re seeing in Ukraine is the power of that group of countries to face collectively economically, regardless of hardship, by way of safety help, in fact, and other forms of financial and humanitarian help to the Ukrainian folks.

Let me change over to the pacing problem of China.  China we see because the nation that may deliver collectively a complete suite of energy.  It has the best potential for that and over the longest time period.  That is financial, technological, in fact, navy energy, info capabilities.  And that is why we consider it as a pacing problem.  In lots of areas of warfare, not all, however most areas of warfare, China presents the toughest goal, essentially the most superior capabilities.

And if we wish to have the ability to defend U.S. pursuits we now have to be taking these capabilities into consideration in how we develop our personal method.  And that is what we’re actually about.  We’re about deterring aggression, we’re about creating stability to guard U.S. pursuits.  We’re not about looking for out warfare battle with the CCP.

However what we see right this moment is, and we now have seen over a long time actually, is the expansion of Chinese language navy functionality.  And now we see that basically mixed with some exercise that may be very worrisome to the U.S. That is the pacing problem concern.

How are we doing on that?  We’re laser-focused on it.  We have all the time had to take a look at a number of challenges on the identical time, so it is not for uncommon for us to each have this focus space round, on this case, China and the PRC.  We have now on the identical time, in fact, in Ukraine the need, significance, and intent and functionality to take a look at these points as properly.

So we’re in a position to do each of these on the identical time and joyful to speak somewhat extra about our method on China, as you want.

MR. BAJRAKTARI:  OK.  Nice, thanks, Dr. Hicks.  You have positioned a heavy emphasis on tying sources to methods.  And as you laid the strategic surroundings and the competitors that you’ve between Russia and China, how is that being mirrored within the choices you’re having to make throughout the division by way of sources and the place you greatest allocate them?

DR. HICKS:  Certain.  So in our base price range and proper now it is the President’s price range request for 2023, we’re very a lot centered on that pacing problem of China.  We do take note of, as I discussed earlier than, there are some areas the place Russia is a pacer.  Undersea warfare can be a extremely apparent one. In our nuclear triad, recapitalization. We, in fact, are occupied with Russia in addition to China.  So there are some exceptions.

However our price range is actually constructed out in opposition to these pacing challenges.  On the subject of help to Ukraine, we’re growing that exterior of the protection price range, and it is — in each instances, we now have the benefit of serious bipartisan help each for help to Ukraine and in phrases, in fact, of a bipartisan coalition strongly round — centered on the U.S. sustaining a capability to discourage, and if needed, struggle and win in any sort of battle that China would possibly put ahead that threatens our pursuits. 

In order that’s form of the place we have been in a position to handle the price range.  The actual useful resource tradeoffs that we face aren’t precisely that, they’re about how we maintain our concentrate on China over time.  China right this moment, China for the 2027 timeframe, China for the 2035 timeframe and for the 2049 timeframe. 

And as we now have to comply with that arc and have a look at that arc of our personal capabilities, power design within the far-term, power improvement within the mid-term and being able to struggle right this moment, it does imply tradeoffs in other forms of capabilities. 

So the place we’re making these useful resource tradeoffs they’re in areas like fourth era plane, they’re in areas like every sorts of as an example floor combatants that are not survivable.  These are locations the place we now have to take extra danger, even in, say, our ISR capabilities that are not significantly properly suited to non-permissive environments.  These are the sorts of tradeoffs that we’re making. 

MR. BAJRAKTARI: OK, nice.  Your price range this 12 months — your price range submission locations a heavy emphasis on R&D.  And I do know innovation is one in all your priorities.  Are you happy by way of the place the division is and is shifting in R&D? 

DR. HICKS:  We have now the most important — within the ’23 price range request, the most important R&D request we have ever had.  And I’m happy that we now have chosen the precise areas to go after, based mostly on the technique.  

Typically talking, I am fairly assured that we have executed a really rigorous job of tying the useful resource request that we have put ahead to Congress to the technique, and we’re within the midst of the construct for the ’24 price range proper now, we’re doing the identical factor.  

And it truly is, as I stated, taking a look at this how can we take into consideration China right this moment within the mid-term and the long run, whereas nonetheless, in fact, taking note of areas we have to have a look at with regard to Russia, counter-VEO or another areas. 

So I’m happy with that tie.  We will not management, if you’ll, any of us, that is the conundrum, the place innovation goes, the way it develops, the place the breakthroughs come from.  And so what we now have to do within the protection division is ensure that we now have an ecosystem for innovation that is as vibrant as doable. 

Meaning we now have to look very a lot exterior the division as properly.  So these federal R&D {dollars}, they are going into all types of partnerships and collaborations, and connections, allies and companions, the non-profit and analysis group, the business sector — and we wish to actually ensure that we’re opening up all these avenues in order that we are able to have the very best shot at these federal {dollars} truly returning outcomes for the warfare fighter. 

I can simply add yet one more piece to that, a part of that innovation ecosystem that is so vital for us is ensuring we’re experimenting after which shifting into manufacturing functionality. 

So it is not simply the R&D {dollars} in the precise tech sectors, it is about going after the precise operational issues and ensuring we now have a tradition of innovation that brings collectively operators, intel analysts, and technologists routinely.  After which as I stated, that we now have the acquisition instruments and the belief of Congress to transform that into manufacturing. 

MR. BAJRAKTARI:  Nice, thanks. 

If I’ll follow-up on the difficulty of the innovation ecosystem business extra broadly, are you happy by way of the place the connection is between the division and the business writ-large?  Is the non-public sector stepping as much as assist the division remedy a few of these challenges?  And is the division then again, making it simpler for the non-public sector to work with the division? 

DR. HICKS:  I feel the non-public sector is totally stepping up.  I feel if I snapshot the place we’re right this moment, I am very lucky to be on the division at a time when — as I journey across the nation, or once more, internationally, the doorways seem fairly open to working with the division. 

There’s a want to guard a democratic lifestyle, we now have a values-based method to how we predict by way of using expertise and the opposite instruments of warfare.  We have led in areas like accountable AI, et cetera.  And I feel we even have demonstrated that we perceive the necessity to pull the business sector in, and once more, the analysis sector in.  So, I feel these are all actually good indicators. 

On our aspect, we’re actually arduous to work with, and that is been true for a really very long time.  And a number of groups of individuals have come by way of to attempt to make that higher.  Do I feel we’re higher right this moment than, once more, perhaps 5 years in the past?  Completely.  I feel we now have extra instruments, I feel the tradition modifications have been vital. 

Do I feel we’re the place we should be?  No.  And a number of that, once more, is cultural change.  It simply goes to take a considerable quantity of management and drive, and the incentives in the precise place to maintain pushing the system to actually fireplace that ecosystem. 

The USA has so many benefits for us to make use of.  I discover generally folks appear fairly forlorn, they appear to lengthy for civ-mil fusion within the Chinese language sense, that is not the precise mannequin.  We have got the precise mannequin. 

The query is, can we fireplace up that mannequin?  And that is the place I feel there’s a number of alternative. We have got to excite that chance, we have to entry it.  And we have to get our companions over on Capitol Hill to have religion that we all know how to do that in order that we are able to transfer ahead. 


Staying on the innovation theme, Dr. Hicks, you positioned a heavy emphasis on revolutionary operational ideas.  Are you happy by way of the place the division is with these ideas, by way of their design and submission to your evaluate?  And particularly, on China, are you assured that DOD has a plan in place that within the occasion of a disaster would lead the USA to prevail? 

DR. HICKS:  So, I simply wish to parse this somewhat bit.  You stated plan and also you stated ideas, and I wish to separate these a bit.  We do a number of actually good planning, I feel our planning is progressing very properly, I give a number of credit score to the INDOPACOM commander for performing some nice work, together with a number of different combatant instructions which are linked up collectively to suppose by way of planning, operational ideas. 

We do have the joint warfare preventing idea, I got here within the door after we have been at 1.0, we now have handed by way of 2.0 and we’re quickly approaching 3.0.  I feel we now have taken a sensible evolutionary method to make sure that we’ve actually teased out a number of the problem units we wish to.  We have now to ask some arduous inquiries to ensure that we get out of a group-think mindset, a number of gaming and simulation, et cetera goes into that. 

So, I do suppose we now have a reasonably robust set of rules and approaches, which I can’t get into, as you may think.  Now the query is, how can we take that, as I stated earlier than, and translate it from the paper of idea improvement into experimentation and train, all through to the DOTmLPF for this to dwell our world into the doctrine and the folks and the materiel and every part we have to execute on these ideas. 

I do suppose we’re down a robust path on that.  And it was one of many areas I used to be most apprehensive about coming in.  We have now to proceed to incent good idea work over time.  We’ll study issues.  Know-how will evolve.  Our approaches will evolve.  And we now have to be able to seize these alternatives.  So I do not see it as a hard and fast cut-off date on operational ideas, fairly the alternative.  I feel we had some good robust rules, perceive what the operational challenges are, which themselves will change over time, that an adversary can pose, and ensure we’re making the most of our asymmetries and shoring up — mitigating our dangers wherever we are able to. 

MR. BAJRAKTARI:  OK.  Nice.  In February, Dr. Hicks, you directed the institution of the Workplace of Digital and Synthetic Intelligence. 

DR. HICKS:  Sure. 

MR. BAJRAKTARI:  Officer, the CDAO.  I used to be curious in the event you can inform us the place you might be by way of the progress that CDAO has made up to now and the place do you see — what do you see as the following milestones on this course of?  I do know you — you have elevated now these duties at your degree and Secretary Austin’s, and you have additionally consolidated a number of the earlier capabilities.  So I used to be simply curious in the event you may give us a way of progress thus far, after which milestones developing. 

DR. HICKS:  Certain.  So CDAO is a brand new group nevertheless it’s a company constructed on — there are constructing blocks that preceded it.  One of many issues we needed to do after we got here in as we took inventory, is work out the place the state-of-the-art was on the business aspect for most of the issues we have been attempting to do.  We noticed that the division was actually battling information.  We noticed — which is itself an entire dialog we are able to have.  We noticed that AI, in fact, very important, not progressing significantly rapidly and actually reliant on the info piece, and people items weren’t naturally coming collectively throughout organizational divides.  And we noticed some actually artistic approaches occurring on the time with our Protection Digital Service that wanted to be introduced ahead to scale throughout a few of these approaches to actually scale throughout the breadth of the division. 

And as we seemed on the business sector, did a few research, it was clear {that a} mannequin like what we now have at CDAO was the way more widespread method for now.  So that is what we did.  We introduced these items collectively so the info and the AI actually construct as a stack.  You recognize, Craig Martell, our CDAO, you recognize, talks about he has a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Want model and it actually begins with the info.  You need to begin with the info.  And the way can we ask — you recognize, actually the Chinese language have began with the info.  You need to be pondering by way of how we entry all of that.  And that issues in every single place from the boardroom all the best way out to the sting — tactical edge.  And so we’re apprehensive about this all the best way throughout that. 

So CDAO has stood up.  It’s introduced these items collectively.  I feel they’re making super progress once more on the boardroom piece, which issues for issues like ensuring taxpayers get their cash price out of the division.  Ensuring we are able to do issues like discover stock simply.  That issues.  Ukraine is a superb instance.  That sort of issues if you wish to know the place all of your, as an example, munitions are and the place the danger ranges are by way of what you switch and issues of that kind. All the best way, as I stated, to the tactical edge on JADC2. 

So CDAO performs an important position in pondering and pulling collectively the info necessities throughout the division, in staffing up the info analyst pool, and we’re doing a number of federated approaches. Our ADA initiative is a approach to deliver AI and information benefit out to the sting with the COCOMs, so we’re sending out expert practitioners in information and AI to COCOMs to assist them. 

We have now, as an illustration, EUCOM as I simply talked about, we’re doing fairly a bit with them on the Ukraine disaster.  We did fairly a bit round operation Allies Welcome by way of information across the Afghan drawback set.  So we’re more and more utilizing CDAO in these methods. 

An important consequence metric for them proper now amongst all the opposite issues that I’ve simply talked about is the info integration layer for JADC2. They would be the software program architects for placing that collectively, and that is what they’re centered on as mission primary. 


If we are able to keep on the theme of JADC2…

DR. HICKS:  Certain. 

MR. BAJRAKTARI:  …in March the division printed unclassified abstract of JADC2 the Joint All Area Command and Management.  Are you able to give us a way of the place you at the moment are on JADC2?  Are the companies coming alongside and embracing JADC2 on the enterprise degree?  And, are you pondering additionally about bringing allies — creating a level of interchangeability or interoperability with allies on the subject of JADC2? 

DR. HICKS:  Sure, let me reply the second half first.  We have now to have the ability to have an method that enables us to each talk with allies, however then additionally to synchronize fires down vary with allies and companions.  So the final half, the reply goes to be sure. 

I’ve stated publicly that the secretary and I aren’t absolutely happy with the place we’re on JADC2.  I feel we’d not be — we’d be silly to be happy absent an precise operational functionality right this moment that sort of had that sensor-to-shooter piece.  That stated, there’s a number of very robust work underway, and my job, I feel, is specifically for me, the place I sit within the division is to deliver all of the items collectively that ship actual functionality. 

So sort of put to the aspect the theoretical and let’s speak by way of the constructing blocks of JADC2.  You want enterprise-wide cloud, and we’ll have — we now have competitors below method proper now, we’re seeking to have a multi-vendor enterprise huge cloud collectively by the top of the 12 months, and our CIO is main on that. 

You additionally, as I stated, need to have information, and you must have an information that can be utilized throughout the enterprise and we have put out the info — I’ve put out information decrees below my signature, however extra importantly, we now have as I stated CDAO, and CDOs in each element of the division now working collectively.  There may be completely faith on information, by no means thought I’d see it. 

I joke generally that we’re bringing the Protection Division into the late twentieth century.  Folks truly wish to use information to hyperlink to outcomes, and once more, as small as that sounds, as you get nearer to the tactical edge that’s precisely what you want.  So the info piece properly underway. 

Now, as I stated this — we now have the — particular person companies have these — you recognize, in lots of instances very compelling work underway, experimentation to architected-solution work underway on JADC2 by way of their particular person service lenses. 

But when we take that, and you set a software program integration layer on it, a data-integration layer on it similar to an app in your telephone can be an integration layer, that is what CDAO can begin to construct, working with people throughout the division, and we are able to begin to perceive the requirements to which we have to develop this software program structure and construct it out. 

So I feel we’re on, backside line, a really robust pathway that may truly ship functionality.  And I am solely describing, as you may think, the parts that make sense to speak about publicly.  I do suppose we now have some capabilities now.  That is an space the U.S. has been significantly robust on- Joint Command and Management. 

That is — again to — you recognize, we’re not the issue, we’re in a great place, we’ll get even higher and having much more asymmetry on this area will assist us in any competitors with an adversary. 


Dr. Hicks, we now have about three minutes left.  Should you do not thoughts, I hoped to show it over to the viewers for a few questions.  So, in case you have a query, please elevate your hand and we’ll deliver the mike over. 

QUESTION:  Hi there, thanks a lot.  Brandi Vincent from DefenseScoop.   Sticking on that JADC2 form of line of thought for a second, Deputy Secretary Hicks, we talked about it in your final journey to all these completely different tech amenities within the Midwest, and also you talked about form of a necessity for perhaps extra oversight management from perhaps CDAO, perhaps general Pentagon to sort of deliver the companies collectively on their completely different and their very own efforts and contributions to JADC2. 

Do you might have any replace on that?  And form of, what’s that sort of staff or management going to seem like?  And is it going to return from the CDAO? 

DR. HICKS:  Nice, thanks, Brandi. 

My reply on that’s that I do suppose type must comply with operate.  There was somewhat little bit of obsession round governance on JADC2.  And what I wish to do is ensure that we’re going after the precise issues and have the detailed governance comply with. 

However what I can guarantee you on governance is that it finally ends up with me and it finally ends up with the vice chairman, and that’s not altering.  So I attempt very arduous, and I will repeat it right here, to get people within the constructing to cease worrying about who’s field one thing is in and know that the buck will cease with the vice chairman and I, and we have this. 

The detailed items will comply with, let’s concentrate on what we truly wish to ship to the warfighter first. 


Every other questions?  Appears to be like like we now have one over there — the again.  Final query, please. 

QUESTION:  Sure, thanks.  Angela (inaudible). 

I am questioning if you would like to be extra particular on a number of the acquisition challenges throughout the protection group, and in case you have any particular expectations of what is perhaps derived out of the PPBE Fee that is not going to be reporting to for, what one other 12 months, 12 months and a half?  So in between every now and then, what do you suppose we’d see? 

DR. HICKS:  Certain.  I’ve met with the PPBE Fee, I feel it is a improbable group of individuals and I am very a lot trying ahead to their work.  We’re not ready to take a look at enhance ourselves for them to report out, that’ll put a — I’ve executed a number of impartial commissions that is put a number of strain on them.  We have now a duty within the protection division to advance our approaches. 

I feel the largest — we now have a pair massive points proper now, I will simply identify a pair.  Transition, safety, workforce — these are simply three I will choose.  And we’re doing a pain-point evaluation proper now of the place all of the items of problem are throughout our innovation ecosystem for individuals who are attempting to work with the division, and for these contained in the division attempting to get capabilities throughout the road. 

However, simply selecting up on these, we now have some new authorities and a brand new fund — we even have a funded authority, which may be very thrilling, that enables us to transition.  We have put 10 tasks out below that — below our undersecretary for R&E, analysis and engineering. 

We actually wish to ensure that these are profitable, nothing succeeds like success. Nothing builds confidence in Congress as a lot as us truly utilizing the authority they gave us properly.  So we’re going to ensure we are able to make these transitions go properly.  We wish to have a look at color-of-money challenges, in fact, on the identical time. 

So in the event you have a look at middle-tier acquisition, once more an space the place we have been given a number of authority from Congress with nice due to Ellen Lord for pushing that by way of with Congress.  We wish to construct on these successes as properly, they nonetheless face color-of-money issues, so I feel we wish to work with Congress on what are tractable methods to go after that. 

On safety, we wish to ensure that we make facility clearance processes simpler, in addition to particular person clearance processes simpler with a view to assist, specifically, small and nontraditional firms who wish to work with us.

Workforce. There’s a lot to do in workforce.  We’re in a really difficult market, in fact, throughout your entire financial system, very low unemployment.  Protection division, no exception to that. 

For our acquisition workforce we’re attempting to suppose by way of how do we glance within the near-term to deliver, after which practice, appropriately, people into the acquisition workforce, once more, incent them to consider a number of these new instruments that they really have out there to them, that is a tradition change concern, but in addition entice them into the sphere. 

After which we now have some instruments for the deeper bench, trying somewhat longer-term at our workforce to attempt to ensure we deliver STEM expertise and acquisition expertise in on the identical time.  We additionally wish to ensure that our natural protection industrial base has the expertise it wants. 

After which lastly, I’d say it is the business sector piece.  How can we work with both the formal, if you’ll, protection industrial base which is about 600,000 firms, and past that, the broader American and worldwide system of firms and others who wish to work with us?  How can we ensure that expertise is there that we are able to entry? 

It is perhaps a warfare for expertise, however I do not suppose the warfare is essentially between DOD and the non-public sector.  We want a extremely vibrant non-public sector, we want a vibrant analysis sector, an instructional sector, and naturally we want a federal workforce that is good. 

So we want a approach to carry all these boats, and I feel that issues just like the CHIPS and Science Act that simply handed are going to be big benefits to us.  We want extra of these sorts of bipartisan efforts that assist us all get after expertise. 

MR. BAJRAKTARI:  Nice.  Dr. Hicks, actually recognize having you right here, sharing your insights with us and your time.  If I may ask the viewers simply in becoming a member of me in thanking Dr. Hicks for being with us right this moment. 


DR. HICKS:  Thanks, recognize it. 

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