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tv   Experts Discuss U.S. Military Power  CSPAN  December 8, 2021 10:04pm-11:06pm EST

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>> our conversation with to retire generals about u.s. military power and bureaucratic challenges facing the military. the atlantic council is the host of this discussion. >> good afternoon, everyone.
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welcome. i'm frederick kempe, president and ceo of atlantic counci. thank you so much for joining us today. with our event on maximizing military power and minimizing bureaucratic barriers. i hope you'll forgive me a personal comment before we get started. today marked the passing of general colin powell. one of america's great soldiers and statesman. he helped to guide the u.s. military to victory in the 1991 persian gulf war as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. he is the holder of the highest honor of the atlantic council, our distinguished leadership award, which he received in 2005. he was an honorary director of the atlantic council and an adviser and a friend.
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born in new york to jamaican immigrants, he really was an american success story. first black chairman of the joint chiefs. selected by president george w. bush in late 2000 to be secretary of state. making him the first black person to lead the state department, and making him a soldier and statesman. when i asked him, during one of our occasional conversations, whether he preferred i called him general or i called him secretary, i refused to call him colin. i told him that would harm the intimacy of our relationship. he said, i prefer recall me general, rather than secretary. i said, well why is that? he said because i learned that one. so, i always loved that statement. and that is a good segue really to our event today. we're joined by two generals. with impressive and extensive
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backgrounds in u.s. security and defense. general james l jones. two times chairman of the board of the atlantic council. and major general arnold punaro. so, thank you so much for joining us and i'm sure you and everybody else joining me and mine salute to general powell. here at the atlantic council, we're committed to shaping the global future, together with our allies and partners. with a dedicated focus on reducing actionable recommendation with real world impact. the two individuals joining us today have done just that throughout their careers. significantly impacting u.s. department defense plans and priorities. so they'll probably, and they'll get into this in the conversation -- they probably have it impacted the plans and priorities as much as they might have a like to. and we'll get into that in discussion. the council center for strategy
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works to develop sustainable, nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the united states and its allies. the center seeks to honor another general, general brett scowcroft, who passed weight last year in august. it seeks on his legacy. of service embodies his ethos of non partisan commitment to security. support for u.s. leaders in cooperation with allies and partners. and dedication to the mentorship of the next generation of leaders. consistent with that mission, the scowcroft center centers for defense practice is designed to shake the debate around the greatest military challenges facing the united states and its allies. and it creates forward looking assessments about trends, technologies and the concepts that we believe will define the future of warfare. looking forward, a u.s. competitors with only to
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continue to develop more advanced technologies, innovative operational concepts, that will alter the -- as china and russia leverage speed from the acquisition of emerging capabilities, all the way to their deployment. the united states maintains a piece of the past. with organizational and cultural barriers standing in the way of necessary integration. however, what worked yesterday will not be sufficient for the wars we fight today and tomorrow. as the global security landscape changes, the u.s. department of defense must adapt to a new set of priorities and constraints. and that brings us to today's event. general punaro we'll hear from shortly, recently released a book which recognizes that despite record defense spending, the u.s. department of defense is getting less return on investment than it didn't pass.
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the pentagon must transform processes bogged down by bureaucracy, especially as near peer competitors like china translate their economic successes into military power. and we just saw the test of a hypersonic missile from china yesterday that surprise a lot of people in the intelligence and defense community. this change is especially important as pentagon decision-makers that map out the next national defense strategy and determine how to reform the department for greater performance and greater affordability. as the u.s. seeks to maintain its competitive edge in the decades to come, the defenses team projects on seizing the new defense strategy continues to release key analyses to
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chart the way forward for the department efforts. so this context for today. i'm delighted to introduce our two distinguished speakers and our moderator. our two distinguished speakers also happen to be part of our olympic council family. general james jones is the executive chairman emeritus and founder of the jones international. he's known and is a leading authority on -- under the obama administration, he served as national security adviser to the president. overseen the expansion of the national security council to include cyber security, homeland security and strategic. he's also served as supreme allied commander, europe and is the 32nd comment out to the u.s. marine corps. the most senior position in the court. no person ever has held all the positions that i just named. major general punaro serves on the council's scowcroft center
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advisory board. he's also that chief executive officer of punaro group and chairman of the board of the national defense industry industrial association. the country's largest defense industrial association. he's a retired marine corps major general. so these are not just two generals, but they're also to marines. and the defense news previously named him one of the 100 most individual individuals in u.s. defense. his new book, the ever shrinking fighting force, serves as a catalyst for their's conversation. and offers relevant insight into the future of defense. so, service, general's, it's great to see you both. i'm looking for to hearing your perspectives. monitoring this conversation is missy ryan, who serves as a staff writer and pentagon correspondent with washington post. for several years, missy has reported a national security and diplomacy topics from over ten countries, spanning latin america and the middle east. it really is an impressive list
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of places that she has visited in her career. including reporting from iraq, egypt, libya, lebanon, yemen, afghanistan, pakistan, mexico, peru, argentina and chile. the nothing so perilous as washington d.c.. so, with that, let me past you. i'm going to encourage our audience on zoom to direct any questions to panels using that queue and the tab, which will find at the bottom of your screen. identify yourself and your affiliation in your questions. we collect them throughout the event and will missy possum to our guests. we also engage our online audience join the conversation on twitter. by following at scowcroft center and using the hashtag for defense. with that, missy, lovely pass to you. >> thanks, fred. i think we were going to be watching a trial and then we'll get back to the generals. ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> i'm general arnold punaro. i'm a retired marine corps major general. and the author of a book entitled the ever shrinking fighting force. we face in this country, the most existential threats we've seen in our lifetime, particularly from china. this book is written really for the citizens of the united states of america to understand that if we're going to preserve our way of life and preserve our freedoms, we've got to have a strong military. we've got to get more bang for the buck further dollars were spending, so that we can compete with the chinese, who now purchasing power is greater than the united states of america. their military has grown very powerful. we are spending more than we've ever spent and yet, the capability we're getting for those dollars is decreasing. >> all right. hi again. i'm missy ryan.
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i think if everyone can hear now i'm going to start the event. i'm really honored to be here today with general jones and general pineiro. it is a real privilege to be sitting with these two professionals who have such experience a national security and military affairs. what we will do is have a moderated q&a with the three of us. for about 40 minutes. 35 or 40 minutes. and then we will open it up to the audience for the last 15 minutes. as you can see in the q&a function on zoom, you can submit your questions there as we are talking. and then we will get to them at the end of the conversation. so i just want to start by talking about the book of the fighting force and general punaro you lay out a striking case regarding some of the problems affecting, regarding the efficiency of military
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spending or the lack thereof, and before we dive into some of the specifics can you just tell us, you talk about the fact that americans are not getting the same bang for their buck in their defense spending that they used to. can you talk about why you think it's an important topic for americans to be thinking about, right now? given everything that's going on in the world. covid, you know, economic problems here at home. political divisions and all of that. why is this something that is an urgent topic at this point? >> thank you, missy. thank you for moderating the panel with your tremendous expertise. as fred kemp said -- thank fred and the atlantic council -- missy and her colleagues at the washington post, when things were going on in afghanistan, her and her colleagues had terrific insights. pleased to join my colleague, general jones. and i would say i want to
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associate myself with camps talk about colin powell. i first met him in the late 70s when i was on the staff of the armed services committee. one of the things i'd like to point out is he had a great respect for congress as. ,. ,. . ? , the world is more dangerous and unstable, in my judgment than the peak of the cold war. and our number one competitor china he's on the march. it's on the march militarily. we could go into a lot of statistics there. but it's on the march economically.
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it is still growing more than ours. they have more diplomatic posts around the world. you covered the state department as well. but what's really scary to me is they've got a huge technological leap in some key areas. and frankly, when you look at the role of our industry, you look at the role of our military, and you look at how our military has been successful and where it hasn't been successful. look at what colin powell did at the beginning of desert storm and americas technology, who basically won that war in the first three or four days. it's the technology we give our soldiers. we don't want to have a country like china to have better technology than our military. and we are not on the right path without right now. so we are at an inflection point. we are moving our resources. we are at an inflection point. and even though we've got all these problems at home, if we want to basically keep our democratic freedoms and not have authoritarian states like
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russia and china start to dominate even more than they are, then we've got to make sure that we have a reliable deterrent with our military and we've got to be able to fight and win these wars. and that's going to take a lot of changes in the pentagon. and i think a strategy that is -- not working. we are spending more than at the peak of the buildup. the force is 50% smaller and all of those statistics. so that's why it's important and we've got to work on the challenges here at home. if we ignore what china is doing, if we ignore what russia is doing, if we ignore what iran and north korea are doing, we are going to wake up in five or six years, and one last thing, i know i've gone on too long with this answer -- there's a book written about pearl harbor. the title is at dawn we slept. it talked about all the warning signs that we should have seen. we don't need that book now. china is very outspoken. we
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know exactly what they are up to. they not only tell us, they do it. we need to wake up and deal with this threat realistically. and get more bang for the buck for the dollars we are spending in the department of defense. >> general punaro, you've laid out a number of striking and alarming facts and your work on this and one of them that i found to be really compelling was the fact that you say that combining the costs of active duty military, guard and reserve, retirees, civilian contractors, d.o.d. spend 70% of its base budget on personnel in fy 16. i think that really dovetails with a lot of the problems that i hope we can get into later. problems that d.o.d. has had in turning out new technologies and making sure that the
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development of new technologies don't take years and years and a huge amount of money. and my question for you -- [inaudible] [inaudible] excuse me -- having served in the leadership of the white house and the pentagon, why do you think this phenomenon isn't better understood? there is strong bipartisan support for awe big defense budget. i think that people talk about maybe trimming around the margins, but why do you think it isn't better understood that there are these huge efficiency problems, or at least that there needs to be prompt action to address them? >> thank you, missy. and let me join in condolences to the family of general powell, who really is a statesman and a
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soldier. with very few equals in our history. we will miss him greatly. so i think one of the bigger problems that our country is facing today, it's being asked in capitals all around the world and that is whether the united states -- let's forget the department of defense -- but whether the united states is in a period of decline. in world history, empires have risen and fallen for two reasons. one, they arise because they have a good system. their economies are balanced and they are able to pay for what they want to achieve economically. but they fall for two reasons. one is external conquest and the other is internal collapse. and that is one of the things
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that people who are watching the united states closely fear might be happening in our own country and so the fact that general pineiro's book, the ever shrinking fighting force, is out there, is a reminder that within the construct of our entire fabric of our society, the defense department plays an important role but in this day and age it's not the only role and so one of the things that concerns me is our inability to not only make our case, sounding the alarm to the public, and to our members of congress and leadership -- but to actually formulate a strategic vision for where we want to be in the future. it is not a given that the united states is destined to be the world leader forever. that status comes as a result of hard work, sacrifice and a realization that we live in a
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very competitive world. so we've had been at war for sometime, since goldwater nichols was passed to sound the alarm within the department of defense. the amount of money that we are spending is not providing the basic needs and the nation in terms of being able to meet the competition. i think we have to be very clear about what is needed. what's needed is not only a reform of the defense department but several other agencies as well, including the state department, for example. but until we we lies, as general pineiro just pointed out, that the chinese and russians are clearly engaged with us in asymmetric ways, we might not have it as a
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kinetic contest with them, although it's possible that we might, but we are in a contest and in all other aspects of our culture and society, and we are showing ourselves to be slow in making decisions and slow in understanding that the national debt is part of our difficulties. a last budget, the last balanced budget we had was during the clinton administration. and ever since then, we've been going in the wrong direction in terms of how we spend our dollars and what we get for it. i think the book it's very timely and a very useful reference to understanding. understanding the magnitude of the problem. in 1997, as general punaro pointed out, we tried to and we
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did write a plan for the pentagon to reform its entire acquisition system and organization. we have had no secretary really that's been able to take this on as a primary, as one of the primary missions, because maybe because they're so much else going on that captures their attention. but the problem has only gotten worse and it's very incumbent upon our public and our think tanks and members of congress to understand exactly what the direction is so that they can start applying remedies. >> general jones, i want to build on a few things that you said and put this question to both of you. we talked about the need for more efficient defense spending. and it strikes me that while there has been an ongoing
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conversation for many, many years, and we were just talking in the green room before the event about decades-long efforts to really make reforms in defense acquisition and in the way that our dollars are managed. even though you go big to the sasse and you hear members talk about this. you hear pentagon leaders talk about the need to increase efficiency. it really hasn't happened in the way that anybody would have liked. and i'm wondering if you all -- if either of you think whether there is a way to force greater efficiency or bring about greater efficiency in the way that we curate and spend these dollars, while continuing to give the pentagon, you know, a pretty big budget. certainly it's larger than any other country in the world. there seems to me, potentially, that there's a lack of incentive there. we could argue about whether it
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should be 700 or 750 billion dollars -- it's still a lot of money. i'm wondering how you square that circle between the carrot for the defense department and the stick of a lower budget. >> i'm going to let arnold answer that first and then i'm going to make a comment. >> so, missy, as we say on the marine corps, you just put steel on a bull's-eye. former senator russell log, chair of the finance committee, he was working with general jones and i in the senate together -- he had the saying. don't solve a problem before people know they have one. one of the problems we have right now is that people in congress and in the pentagon and the public and the media, they don't realize that huge ticking time bombs that are getting ready to explode in the pentagon. that's why my book is
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all about. let me give you a couple of examples. i think if we were able to get this point through -- let's take the one you mentioned about the burden that life cycle cost. if you add 1.3 million active duty, 880,000 members of the guard reserve, the 750,000 defensive aliens, the 750,000 contractors. not the ones building the weapons but the ones who so forth and work every day working in the pentagon. then you look at the fact that we have 2.4 million military retirees -- we have one more million retirees than we have on active duty. you look at the health care budget, 17 billion to 50 52 billion a year. it has 10 million beneficiaries, of which 5.6 million our tyreek and dependence. so over 60% of the d.o.d. health care budget is supporting people no longer serving. and the life cycle cost -- we now pay people 60 years to
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serve for 20 years. i'm not making a criticism but that's the realistic. we have a trillion dollar unfunded liability in the military retirement system. we are spending 400 billion dollars a year in the acquisition on business services, supplies and equipment. and about the only charitable thing you can say is spend more, take longer to get less. china builds 13 naval combatants when we -- china basically -- we used to be able to build aircraft from contract to a first article in about five years and it now takes 30. years china is now building it in five years. we had 14 companies that could build aircraft and when ronald reagan was president. now we barely have to. so we've got in the d.o.d.'s overhead, when you look at the amount that goes to the defense, spending and install from 7% to the budget, they say 20% but if you add in the part that is buried in the air force budget it's more like 30%. it's grown more rapidly than
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the actual budget of the military departments for all the world powers. our so we have this massive overhead. we have these huge costs for that major weapons. norm augustine was correct when he work or zola 20 years ago. he said look, the cost of these weapons are going to be such that we can afford one of each. and that's kind of where we are now when you look at some of the cost of these major weapons systems. same thing with sustainability. chuck spinny got on the front page of the new york -- the time magazine complaining about the runaway costs of these major weapons. now we're paying that price. so, all of these problems people need to understand and congress needs to understand them. and people are going to have to bite the bullet, because these trends are so adverse. we don't have a lot of time to turn them around. i think is really educating and informing. and frankly, the people that come to work in the pentagon every day, the civilians, the military, the garden reserve, contractors, they come to work every day trying to do the best job they can for our taxpayers.
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that is former secretary of sense bill barry want said, bad processes the good people every day. and we have this proliferation of bad, bureaucratic processes in the pentagon. and the same thing in the congress. norm augustine called the congress now a broken branch. they don't get their work done on time. they don't detail oversight anymore. they were in tears for the last 25 years. so, we have got to fundamentally change the processes in government in both the congress and the pentagon, if we're going to remain competitive with china and russia. that's a problem. to >> missy, another way to add on to that, which is very helpful arnold, thank you. is to see that i've been around long enough and i think general punaro has been as well to have gone through the goldwater nickel state of legislation. another way of seeing that is, i've been in the conscripted force and i've been in the all volunteer force. and the all volunteer force was
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a great creation. i think it's time for for us to think about a new goldwater nichols to correct the unintended consequences that colonel punaro has identified. we are on a ticking time bomb. we've seen nuclear modernization costs, which are going to double to about seven and 8% of the budget in the next few years. our conventional forces will buy force, contract, on their current course. whether you go from the reagan cold war force to the obama global war on terrorism, today, we're spending more than the reagan buildup at its peak, for a much smaller military. i do believe that the contest with our primary competitors
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it's much more multifaceted. it's not only who's going to win the kinetic fight. there may be smaller skirmishes. there may be tests here and there and the south china sea and the like. but the real fight here is i think primarily with china. primarily it expands much more than just the pentagon. we have to be able to make decisions more quickly. we have to be able to understand holistically the threats that face-off. and we have to understand that this is a real contest. against an enemy that is well organized -- a potential enemy that is well organized, well funded. they have the advantage, if they're correct, of strategic planning and strategic thinking
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that crosses over decades. whereas, potentially, we can change governments every four years. so, those are realities that we have to deal with. i think the pentagon is a great place to start as general punaro pointed out. the tooth to tail ratio is out of whack in most of the services. our national debt and deficit don't contain any of the sets. we've added 22 trillion dollars between 2020 and 2025 to our national debt. so, until people start talking about that and really understanding what it means for the future, we are liable to be on a slippery slope towards decline rather than the opposite. which is what i think most americans -- >> a quick point on general jones. because i want to underscore one thing. a lot of time to hear from
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people who say, well you all at the pentagon, you're always exaggerating the threat. kawhi burke said the soviets were 12 foot tall. they really work. the chinese really aren't that good. but let me say, general jones and i served as infantry platoon commanders in vietnam. i was there in my area unlike marine rifle protection, our mission was to interdict the ho chi minh trail. that was where the chinese brought supplies into the the kong and south vietnam. our mission was to keep them from doing that. so, we have had personal experience with fighting against chinese military. these were tough fighters. these are not people that are pushover's. so, the notion that some people have -- they say well, they've never been in a real fight. talk to the marines that fought the chinese at the frozen, chosen. we should not underestimate. the problem i have is, they're just -- the march on technology has always been our military's tremendous advantage. they have gone ahead of us in
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some areas. they're catching up in other areas. and these technologies are not just important to the pentagon, their fundamental to our economy the competitive in the world, in the future, for a strong economy. and you can name. them so, we really need to make up and take these challenges very, very seriously. >> i think that's absolutely right. just at one of the advantages that you all were citing that china has. another one is that it has used espionage to acquire many of the technologies that the united states developed at great cost. actually i'm, going to circle back to general jones with another china question. but before i do, general punaro, another related question. going back to a comment you made earlier about congress. i'd love to hear from you having served in the military and extensively on capitol hill, it seems like a lot of the reforms that both of you are
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talking about are going to require significant congressional action. how do we do that? how do we make that happen, given the dysfunction of congress and the advantages that are divvied up in the different districts that have made it contributed to the difficulties making reforms? >> let me say again, i was privileged to serve in the senate for 24 years. staff director of the armed services committee for 14 years. the defense committees, the house and senate armed services committees, the house and senate defense corporation committees are still a bipartisan oasis of wanting to do the right thing for the country. those committees were worked together, they work on a bipartisan basis. they pass their legislation. nothing appropriation bills, because of the larger congressional dysfunction, they don't get them out on time. but it is not within their control. individually, if you look at the leadership of these
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committees, they want to do the right thing and they want to do these reforms. so, i think we've got an opportunity at this inflection point. you've got a lot of new people on both the senate and the house armed surfacing subcommittee on both sides of the aisle, that served in the modern wars in iraq and afghanistan. pushing up through the system. general jones is correct. we really need to go a goldwater knit nichols for the management chain of command. we fix the operational chain of command in 86 with goldwater nichols. but i think if we basically could get the committees to agree with the description of that problem and agree with the pressing nature and to get that pentagon. the problem you have is, the pentagon is not very cooperative on some of these things, because these are a lot of light bulbs and a lot of jobs that are tied into them into the pentagon. so, you've got to get the pentagon, like we talked in the green room -- don rumsfeld was willing to
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take this on. so, the pentagon if they basically signal to the congress, which i think is already inclined in that direction on the bipartisan defense committees, they want to get for more bang for the buck. then you could work those things in a co-optative way. i'll tell you, it took us three, four years to pass goldwater nichols, over the objection of everybody at the pentagon. and that was because you had some really, really strong leaders in barry goldwater, sam gun, bill nichols, bill cohen, people like that. you've got to have the corporation of the pentagon on these processes. very exceedingly complex. these defense agencies do more business with the department of defense than our for profit companies. that's how massive and large these organizations are. so, i think the will is. there is just going to take the pentagon and the congress and it's gonna take us from the outside. it's going to take the news media, focusing people on the nature of the problem and getting people to be willing to show a little little profile in
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courage and backbone by these bullets. >> missy, may i add on. >> please, go ahead. >> thank you. i think one of the things that we should be careful about is not to overstate china's capabilities and russia's capabilities. russia has gdp the size of new york state. vladimir putin is more of a nuisance than he is a threat. they have nuclear weapons, so that makes him a bigger threat. but it boggles my mind as to why we accord him -- why the world courts him the respect that is usually reserved for a statesman, when he really is just a to get dictator whose goal is to mess up everything we do. as much as possible and in europe. and you're going to see this this winter with regard to his use of energy in europe as well, when it gets cold.
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the other thing in china i -- think we ought to be careful not to overstate what china is. china has a lot of internal threats that are going to come to roost here. there one child policy established years ago is making china the all this country in the world. and that's going to impact their workforce at a lot of other fakes. so, there's a lot of things that preclude china from achieving their goals. one that i want to emphasize -- and this is one where the pentagon completely big role -- is in the cybersecurity arena. recently, the washington post highlighted the resignation of a defense official who said that the war was -- the war on cybersecurity with china is already lost. i spent a fair amount of my
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time on cybersecurity issues. i can tell you with certainty that it is not lost. i know a lot about the technologies that were working on. i believe that if we apply ourselves and organize ourselves in a better way with which to take on this fight, the united states can be the global leader on cybersecurity issues. and render ourselves relatively impenetrable and completely secure in a relatively short period of time. and also provide that kind of capability to our friends and allies like the north atlantic treaty organization. so, this is a near term fight. this is the wolf closest to the door. the defense department completely huge role in harnessing these technologies that we know are there. but until we organize ourselves, for example -- i'll use the term of a manhattan like project.
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like we did in the 20th century. but a manhattan like project for cybersecurity. and harness the technologies that are out there anyway that catapult the united states into the position of unquestioned leadership on cyber security issues. we're going to be chasing china rather than leading. as his we have the capacity to lead, i think most americans would rather have that situation. >> thanks, general jones. you actually answered one of the questions i was going to ask you about china, the potential for overhyping the problem. i'm going to build on what you are talking about at the end of your most recent comment about cybersecurity. i'm curious. i'm interested -- do you think it's something we could overcome and the idea that a cyber martial project, the manhattan project, excuse me, it's interesting, but what makes you think that the united
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states can overcome the problems that it's had to date. we've seen problems of vulnerability with the u.s. government networks and i would like you to address, if possible, the cyber vulnerabilities of the defense industry and defense supply chain, which seems to be as big a problem, because of the technology that they have on their systems and the fact that they've been a major target in the past. >> well, for more years than i care to admit, we have been vulnerable to penetrations by our competitors. china in particular. it's no accident that's the latest chinese fighter looks an awful lot like the f-35. and it's no accident that china has made tremendous strides. but china, to me, is not a country that innovates. it's a country that captures
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the capabilities and the technologies that countries like ours develop. so it is incumbent upon us to organize ourselves, in my view, both in the public and private sector, to prevent these kinds of things from happening. and in my, work in the cybersecurity world, i know that there is technology out there, that properly harnessed and brought together in a way that uses the inter agency together, so that you don't have the defense department working on one thing and the state department working on another. and other agencies, kind of doing their own thing. we have got to stop the penetration and the pilfering of our technologies. we've got to make companies like lockheed martin and big defense companies more secure. and those technologies, i
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believe, are out there. i know they are out there. we are not in any administration -- this administration or the last administration -- come together to form a central manhattan like project that bring the best of the private sector and public sector together to protect ourselves. until we do that and organize ourselves, we are going to be chasing in the context here -- we want to make sure that we have that same capability as well. >> thanks. i think we have time for one more question. general punaro, i want to ask you, you lay out in the book and we've talked here today about a lot of the challenges that the pentagon and the overall system around defense spending and technology
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procurement have. what would you want people to know about what is going right? well the pentagon is doing right, maybe that people don't know about? >> i would say and relate the point that when someone along with young jones and others who have been privileged to be in uniform for 35 years, to work in government, to work in our defense industry, to serve side-by-side the people in the pentagon. again, they come to work every day, they are career civil servants, the active duty military, the contractors, the think tanks, the federally funded -- they are trying to do the very best job they can for our taxpayers. a lot is going good. if you look at acquisition -- and i've complained about that -- one of the challenges right now is that we don't have an undersecretary for acquisition or a deputy and we don't have four of the assistant secretaries in that area where we are spending 400 billion
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dollars a year and we are not -- to the administration. that said, under frank kendall, in the last administration, they've made a lot of good progress in terms of improving acquisition, but it's not how far we've come, it's how far we still have to go. if you look at, for example, heidi xu, the undersecretary for research and engineering. she is going to outsmart me in a lot of these technology areas. cyber, there's a lot going on there. too much of it is just putting out press releases and saying how much money we are spending and the question is are we really kind of getting still on target there? but again, if you look at our military, what they do each and every day, today we have 30,000 members of the guard reserve, one active duty, helping with covid, helping with hurricanes and fires. from 9/11 to now, over 1
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million members of the guard reserve have been mobilized to serve our seas and here at home. we didn't have to build any schools and hospitals or equipment shops or family housing, because they are part time. but they serve on active duty when needed. so there is absolutely a lot of good, and again i think we do have the finest military in the world, for three reasons. one, we recruit and retain the very best people. that's going to be even more challenging. the cohort of 17 to 24-year-olds that we've targeted. a lot of them are not medically qualified anymore. we also have realistic and constant training. that is always a challenge. but the big thing is we give them the very best technology. that comes from industry. the government does not innovate anymore as general jones has indicated. innovation comes from the private sector. we've got to get more of our industry in nontraditional suppliers in this pentagon and the pentagon before it has tried to do that. i would say in terms of cyber, you know,
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speaking in my had for the national defense industrial association, are 1600 members, including those that general jones mentioned, we are fanatics about meeting government requirements. we all agree 1000% that we've got to protect our networks, we've got to protect the technology. we've got to protect classified information. and the department needs to basically be in the regulatory framework, providing things that will actually work rather than just kind of disseminating what i would call moses and the ten commandments. we are working with them on that. there is progress being made there. but you are correct, you can't do enough. i've talked to most every head of the cyber command, going all the way back to keith alexander. and they have basically said that the offense can overwhelm the defense. we can never rest on our laurels when it comes to protecting our networks and industry protecting the technology that will be so essential for deterrence, and if we have to go to war in the
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future. >> general punaro, let me quickly follow up on something you just said. people will debate a lot about consolidation in the defense industry and the dominance of a smaller number of large companies. is the need for more effective cyber security and an argument for consolidated defense industry? whether it's a smaller number of larger players? versus a large system of smaller companies? given the resources required to defend technology from attacks? >> missy, i'm one that believes there is a lot of innovation in our small businesses. and our large businesses -- they don't need to buy them up and consolidate them. we don't have enough competitive pressure at the department of defense right now for our major weapons. more consolidation, in my judgment, particularly if we are going to consolidate and it
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basically reduces innovation -- that would not be a good thing. so what i think, though, is some of our project, some of our ceos have had recent things in the think tanks that are really about how to change the format going forward. and everybody is very forward leaning. we've got to innovate. innovate not just in the defense industrial base. we need the innovations of 5g, quantum, biotechnology. we need to basically secure our supply chain where 40% of our pharmaceuticals don't come from china. where china doesn't have all the rare earth minerals that we need in our high technology. so there's a lot that has to happen here. but greater consolidation in things that would reduce competitive pressure in the department or reduce innovation in our small businesses will not be a good outcome. >> okay, i'm going to read out some of the questions from the audience and i'm going to take the liberty of combining two related questions for our first question, given we only have 11
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minutes left. this is from miles mackay at brown university and scott porter. miles asks, do you to believe that a chinese taiwanese war is imminent? if the united states prepared in terms of technology for that situation? the second part would be, do you have suggestions for how to communicate the urgency of this issue, meaning the problems that you are describing in your book, general pineiro, to parts of congress not involved in defense before there is a wake up call situation such as a potential invasion of taiwan? >> it's sort of a current events question combined with a question more central to the book. >> combatant commander should go first on that. general jones? >> that's a hard one, but the taiwan issue is hard to answer, but i would say what's going on
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right now in -- on the global playing field with principal competitors is a testing game. they are trying to size up the will of our leadership. they are trying to figure out we are our vulnerabilities and weaknesses are. whether we have the resolve to stand behind our values and what we have stood for for a long time. big as i said earlier, there is an open question about whether the u. s. is in decline as they would like us to be. i don't believe that has to be the case. i do think there are some things we have to fix and quite a few things. it would be great if members of congress would unite on the subject of national security from both parties, so that if one party says one thing and the other party doesn't say another because
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they are not republicans or democrats. so i think back in the 20th century, just before the end of the cold war, the congressional national security caucuses were bipartisan. we need to return to that era of bipartisan concern for the good of the nation and the leadership that we want to provide for the rest of the world. so i don't think -- my personal view is i don't think there is an evasion of taiwan that is eminent. but i think there is a lot of testing going on. and that's based on what the chinese are doing in their air spaces and so on. and i think we have to be clear and unambiguous that when we say something, we mean it. and we have the capabilities to make it happen. or to enforce it if we have to.
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>> i support what general jones said there, missy. we need to send a signal to the chinese that we honor our commitment to taiwan and the taiwan relations act. i was in the senate when that passed. president jimmy carter asked my boss to meet with deng xiaoping, ahead of -- during the war. the taiwan relations act, we should honor our commitments. it's important for people to see that when we have a treaty or when we say we are going to defend the north korean peninsula, or we are going to help japan, which is now talking about increasing its defense budget beyond its traditional 1%, that we are going to make good on our commitments to that region. anti one is essential for people in that part of the world, particularly the chinese understand that we mean it when
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we say it and that's one of the worries that a lot of us have coming out of afghanistan. when we left a lot of the people that supported us behind. general jones and i grew up in military -- you never leave your wounded on the battlefield. our credibility has been strained. we need to basically reassure that part of the world and reassure that we are going to be there if they need us. >> really quickly, how do you -- going back to scott's question -- how do you get greater buy in on the scope of congress that isn't on the -- to have a greater focus or to make these efficiencies when there is a lot of pushback in some of these recent decisions that i think really for the first. time, are showing that the rubber is starting to meet the road, for the first time, in terms of a u.s. shift towards china. especially, for example, the withdrawal from afghanistan or
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this recent submarine deal with australia. these are disruptive decisions, you know, but they could be part of this larger shift and there is a lot of criticism from both parties to elements of those decisions. i'm wondering, how do you do that? ? >> i think, missy, the good news is right now when it comes china, there's strong bipartisan support in the house and the senate that we need to basically deal with the issues associated with china. you've got a lot of legislation in the works. you've got the military bills, the pacific defense initiative that are building on that. the pentagon gets it. and so actually think that that is one of the real pluses in how congress right now, people are not fighting in terms of understanding the nature of when it comes to china. when you get into specifics, there's a lot of business. our former sell-off goods to china. our defense and aerospace
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companies have businesses over their. so, when you get into the inches, that's when it gets a little tough. but on the other hand, i think there is a general awareness that this is something we've got to pay a lot of attention to. and it's on a bipartisan thesis. i'm encouraged there. what we've got to have is an administration and pentagon, and i'm not specifically pointing the ad ministry the figure at this one, that when it comes to specifics as general jones says. here's some things we need to do. here are things the administration supports. here's legislation we need in this area. again, it's not just the pentagon. we're too dependent on the chinese supply chain for a lot of the issues. it was very troubling to somebody like me when covid hit when, the head of the new england patriots decided he wanted to basically help out and get masks. and 95 masks and ventilators. he didn't fly his airplane to peoria, illinois to get it, he flew to china. because that's where the supply was. we can't have that. we've got to basically shore up our supply chain in a lot of
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areas. again, i think congress would be very receptive. but if i'm being candid, the executive branch has to lead in this era. they have to come up with specific proposals and make and congress needs to deal. them >> are right, we have three minutes. i think we have time for one last question. i'm going to kick it to you general jones. there is an interesting question from colonel tim couldn't. i maybe pronouncing that wrong. from the u.s. air force. could you further describe what a goldwater nickels to point or would entail? particularly as we're organized primarily in regional combatant commands and see a rise of functional combatant commence -- it's a very nuts and bolts question but i think it's an interesting one. of>> you can't do it in two minutes, but i would say one of the shortfalls of -- unintended consequences of goldwater, nichols, was for example, to remove the service chiefs from the acquisition process.
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so, service chiefs were relegated to deciding what is their services and need. but once that need was communicated, they were forbidden really, to act in any way in the acquisition process. what happens and still happens today is that if something serious happens in a service, accident where troops are killed in training or something like that, they're using new equipment, is it that get summoned to answer for that? and that's the service chief. so, those are some of the things that needed to be corrected. i also think that we can make some improvements in the relationship between the service -- and joint chiefs of staff and the combatant commanders. in the sense that combatant
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commanders can in this day and age go around the joint chiefs and directly to the secretary of defense. because that's the chain of command. i believe there is the good reason to think about putting the chairman of the joint chiefs in the chain of command. because i think that would be complimentary to his overall duties. because as we saw recently, when something goes wrong, the chairman gets called in front of the appropriate committees and has to answer for that. but he has technically, he's not in the chain of command. so, to me, those are things that need to be discussed. i don't think i have the whole blueprint. but acquisition, command and control, the role of the joint chiefs, which previous administrations had been let's face it, emasculated. and bypassed in the iraq war in
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2003, pretty much. i was one of those service chiefs at that time. so, there's a lot that can be done, i think, to improve our decision-making and our accountability processes. >> i want to be respectful of everyone's time. i think we're going to have to leave it here. i'm sure we could continue this discussion for a long time. i want to thank general jones and general punaro. his book is the ever shrinking fighting force. i'd also like to thank the atlantic council for having us today. thank. >> thank you. >> thanks, missy. terrific moderator.
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