Thank you for this presentation. It’s great to join Harvard Business School’s Technology and National Security Conference. Special thanks to the Aerospace Club of HBS and the Defense Technical Club of MIT for hosting this conference.
This morning, I would like to talk to you about the external threats facing the Department, some internal challenges we face, and how we are leveraging innovation and technology to address these issues.
If you read the news or browse virtually any social media platform, you know that the United States faces a number of security challenges today.
The Ukrainian people are at the forefront in our minds. Russia poses an acute threat to the world order, with its unprovoked invasion and brutal tactics.
But even as we face Russian activities, the National Defense Strategy identifies the People’s Republic of China as our most important strategic competitor. The PRC has the military, technological and economic potential to challenge the international system and US interests within it for decades.
We also face other persistent threats, including those emanating from North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations.
Defense innovation – bringing together concepts, technologies and tactics to solve military problems – is key to meeting this challenge. Our just released FY2023 budget request does just that.
At the Department of Defense, much of the warfighter’s toolkit is cultivated through what we call “research, development, test and evaluation,” or RDT&E. To ensure we develop the tools and capabilities our women and men in uniform need for the future, we are calling on Congress to invest more than $130 billion in RDT&E – it is the biggest investment ever achieved in this category.
We seek to invest nearly $28 billion in space capabilities, such as resilient space architectures and improved command and control systems.
We are also requesting over $11 billion for activities in cyberspace. This will protect DoD information systems from cyberattacks, help defend our critical infrastructure, and enhance our cyber toolkit – all within the limits of the rule of law and existing legal frameworks.
And we’ve also requested funding for a number of artificial intelligence-related efforts, including the creation of the Office of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer. This position will be focused on speed – and ensuring we have the right processes and organization in place to leverage AI and data. This helps the department advance a host of different combat concepts and capabilities.
In addition to addressing external challenges, leveraging technology and innovation also helps the DoD manage its own internal processes.
With a workforce of more than 2.9 million people operating at approximately 4,800 sites in 160 countries – by any measure – the DoD is a large and complex entity. In fact, almost every job or career path that exists in the private sector probably also exists in the Department of Defense.
To manage an organization of this size, we actively seek digital and analytical solutions.
For example, at the DoD, we know that we must do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to fight climate change. To assess the options available to us, we need to better understand how and where we use energy.
So we strive to establish data links to provide enterprise-wide visibility into real-time or near-real-time demand for electricity, natural gas, and water. Amazingly, we don’t have that capability today. So we do that now, down to individual installations and operational platforms.
This will allow us to better measure and manage energy consumption, determine where we are and track our progress.
Not only will this generate greater energy efficiency and combat climate change, but it will also reduce costs and make our forces more agile in the field.
As another example, we deployed a new federal electronic health record at the Department of Defense called MHS GENESIS. It is currently deployed at over 1,300 DoD sites with approximately 95,000 active users to date.
MHS GENESIS replaces several legacy electronic health record systems.
In addition to reducing costs, this improves access to health information not only in the military, but also in the Department of Veterans Affairs and other non-military health care organizations.
It provides greater flexibility and adaptability to respond to events such as pandemics and natural disasters. It also provides near real-time clinical decision support, including patient data aggregation.
Whether supporting our combatants in today’s challenging threat environment or creating efficiencies across the department, the DoD requires a highly skilled military and civilian workforce. qualified. We need people to support rapidly evolving fields, from nanotechnology to robotics. And we need people with digital skills, including data scientists, software developers, and machine learning experts.
Beyond talent, the Department is also looking for ways to work alongside American companies. The American private sector is undoubtedly one of our greatest comparative advantages. If the DoD wants to innovate successfully, we’re going to have to work with commercial companies and private research entities.
We know working with the Department can be difficult and often frustrating. The DoD has a multitude of processes and requirements that can be onerous. We know this and are taking steps to reduce barriers to working with us.
For example, the Department leverages various acquisition authorities that provide us with the flexibility to adopt and integrate best business practices – as well as access innovative companies with which we may not have had be not traditionally worked in the past.
Additionally, we are focused on expanding our work with small businesses, which are critical to our national security. So we’re increasing education and training opportunities at DoD Supply Technical Assistance Centers, located in the United States. We also encourage small businesses to enroll in our Mentor – Protégé program. And we rely on our small business innovation research and small business technology transfer programs to drive new capabilities.
Whether you have the skills the Department is looking for or you are a business that wants to work alongside the Department, we just launched a new website to help you navigate the Department of Defense – www.ctoinnovation.mil. This page is meant to be a one-stop-shop with links to different career paths, internships and opportunities for individuals and a map of the DoD ecosystem for companies interested in the innovative work we do. Our goal is to provide those looking to work with and for the Department with the information you need – and in true DevOps style, our team is looking for your user feedback.
Events like this conference are extremely important to our national security. Cross-cutting discussions, with perspectives from U.S. government officials as well as representatives from the private sector and academia, not only build understanding and trust, but hopefully lead to better outcomes for all.
Again, thanks to the Aerospace Club at HBS and the MIT Defense Tech Club for hosting. I hope you enjoy the rest of the lecture.