Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Highlight from Day 3: Dr. Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense

Dr. Ashton Carter, Deputy  Secretary of Defense, led a forum on the Pivot to the Pacific! Highlights from his presentation below:

US military power in the Asia Pacific

Dr. Carter began his speech expressing gratitude to Air Force leadership in a tough time. He went on to acknowledge the great community that has helped build our military. "We don't build anything in the Pentagon...industry does...and the equipment they provide is second only to the people that operate them."

65 years is not the long.  Air power has helped the US shrink the world.  It has helped us see the world, strike with precision, and secure skies.

ISR has been a huge success story in a short time.

Question...which strategic choices will the nation make?

While things have shifted in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts...the rest of the world...both our enemies and friends have not stood still.  This is one of the two great forces at work.

On sequestration:
The second great force is fiscal crunch.  "Sequestration is dangerous." He went on to say how he has been a broken record on the situation, describing sequestration as "chaotic", "disastrous", and "wasteful". "It was never designed to be implemented." He added that it would make it impossible for the US to develop a plan.

If sequester is de-triggered, our defense budgets will flatten out...not decline or rise.

On the new defense strategy:
The new defense strategy...makes sense and it is what we are building toward. He also added that protecting technology, research and development is extremely important to this.

The Pacific is important economically, strategically, and politically, he said.  History of Air Power in the Pacific is rich and storied.  Distances demand air power. Our stabilizing role allowed Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and even China and India to rise peacefully.

"We are walking the walk of re-balance...not just talking the talk.  ISR assets will be shifted as Afghanistan winds down." 60 percent of the Air Force is there now.  Our newest forces are going to the Pacific first.

On alliances:
Alliance and partners are a force multiplier...burden sharing.

On buying practices:
Better buying power is a priority.  Affordability and performance with an emphasis on should-costs.  Past performance will be important.

Highlights from the Q/A between Dr. Carter and the audience:

Q: The relationship between DoD and industry...what do you think of it?

A: We have been wrestling with cost control in the JSF.  It is a very difficult process to go from development to's requires a team effort.  We want the JSF, but we also must control costs.

Q: Thoughts on industrial mergers?

A: We understand our industry needs to be technologically, and financially successful...we encourage businesses to make decisions on what makes sense from a profitability standpoint.

Q: Are we organized correctly from a cyber perspective?

A: We can defend our networks...we can develop cyber weapons and prepare for employment...third is protecting the entire nation from cyber attack...that third one is the difficult...lots of barriers when working with private industry...anti-trust laws are tough problems.  We are doing things way too slowly.  Need legislative relief.

Q: Are you satisfied that our R&D budget is protected?

A: Yes, but I am concerned that we are not getting things out of the programs that we can use.

Q:  What does the future of ISR look like?

A:  We must have the same kind of ISR in a contested environment.  We must get that down.

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