HAGEL ANNOUNCES NEW DEFENSE INNOVATION, REFORM EFFORTS
By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
18 Nov 14. In a keynote speech at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a plan to harness the brightest minds and cutting-edge technology to change the way the Department of Defense innovates and operates.
On the second day of a five-day trip nationwide to see some of the critical training the force receives to maintain readiness, Hagel addressed members of Congress, DoD officials, military leaders, and members of the defense industry during the annual forum held in Simi Valley, California.
Along with the new innovation initiative, the secretary also announced a project to reform the defense enterprise, preparing it to deal with dwindling budgets in an uncertain future.
DoD Experiencing a Time of Transition
“The Department of Defense is undergoing a defining time of transition,” Hagel said. “We [face] a reshaping of our enterprise by a fiscal environment plagued by … budget uncertainty and a large decline in resources, and by an historic realignment of interests and influences around the world.”
As these dynamics unfold, he added, the U.S. military is engaged in crises and security challenges around the world – degrading the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, helping to stop the spread of Ebola virus disease, and reinforcing NATO allies.
“Few would have predicted these missions a year ago,” the secretary said, adding that DoD is responsible for addressing a range of contingencies and crises.
New, Old Threats, Challenges
“We face the rise of new technologies, national powers and non-state actors,” as well as “sophisticated, deadly and often asymmetric emerging threats ranging from cyberattacks to transnational criminal networks, [and] persistent, volatile threats we have faced for years,” Hagel said.
The nation’s long-term security, he added, depends on whether the department can address today’s crises while preparing for tomorrow’s threats.
Hagel described the department’s two most-important investments as bolstering the United States’ unrivaled capacity for innovation and reforming the defense enterprise to ensure that the military foundation is reliable, agile, accountable and worthy of the men and women who serve.
While the United States and its allies spent more than a decade at war, he said, countries like Russia and China have heavily invested in military modernization programs to blunt the U.S. military’s technological edge, fielding advanced aircraft, submarines and longer-range and more accurate missiles, and developing new anti-ship and air-to-air missiles, and counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare, undersea and air-attack capabilities.
New Defense Innovation Initiative
“Today I am announcing a new Defense Innovation Initiative,” Hagel told the audience, describing the effort as an ambitious, departmentwide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.
“Continued fiscal pressure will likely limit our military’s ability to respond to long-term challenges … so to overcome challenges to our military superiority we must change the way we innovate, operate and do business,” the secretary explained.
The innovation initiative, he said, will ensure that U.S. power-projection capabilities continue to sustain a competitive advantage over the coming decades.
Identifying, Developing Cutting-edge Technologies
As part of the initiative, Hagel said, a new Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program will help identify, develop and field breakthroughs from the most cutting-edge technologies and systems, especially in robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data and advanced manufacturing, including 3-D printing.
“The program will look toward the next decade and beyond,” he said, “[but]