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Home : Media : Speeches / Testimony
NEWS | Dec. 5, 2023

Panel 9: Supremacy or Parity? Aligning the National Defense Strategy for Techno-Competition with the PRC

By Reagan National Defense Forum

Ms. Jennifer Griffin 08:22:11

Great. Well, thank you for joining us. I know we're at the end of the day and we've had a lot of discussions, but this is, in my estimation, the best panel. Supremacy or Parity? Aligning the National Defense Strategy for Techno-Competition with the PRC. I think we know where we want to be and it's not parity. I want to welcome my panelists Admiral John Aqulino, everyone knows the head of U.S. INDOPACOM. Doug Beck, who is the director of the Pentagon's Defense in Innovation unit, he was just with Secretary Austin up in Silicon Valley. Senator Mike Rounds, of the great state of South Dakota, Senate Armed Services and Foreign Affairs, of course, and Horatio Rozanski, President, CEO of Booz Allen, and way down there General Chris Mahoney, who is the Acting Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Thank you all for being with me. One little fun fact before we start, we have two, not one, but two top guns on this stage here. That means one of you must be Goose, Senator Rounds. Okay, our panel will discuss of course the contest between with China in terms of technology. Everyone agrees that you never want to enter a fair fight, you don't want the U.S. military entering a fair fight. Admiral Aquilino I'll start with you, and I'll go down the line. We'll just have a quick lightning round. You are, you oversee 380,000 service members across 14 time zones, 36 countries. That's half of the world's population. What keeps you up at night?

Admiral Aqulino 08:23:51
Jennifer, first, thanks and thanks to the Reagan team for allowing me to come back. This is always an amazing event. Well everything keeps me up at night. I'm the guy that gets paid for the worst case of everything in the INDOPACIFIC theater. You said 380,000 members. Just so we're clear, I’ve got the greatest team on the planet and they work every day to deter the conflict with the PRC and maintain the peace, stability, and prosperity that exists in the Indo-Pacific. If you would ask, what am I worried about specifically at this moment… I think what you've seen recently is a variety of unsafe actions by the PRC against not only the United States but against our allies and partners, whether they be a dangerous activity against the Philippines, close or dangerous actions in the air, intercepting our Canadian partners or our Australian partners to include U.S. airplanes. About three weeks ago we had a very close intercept that was really concerning to me. So, the safety of our forces, those 380,000 people that is my primary job, and when the PRC takes actions that are unsafe, unprofessional, and in close proximity to my forces it keeps me worried.

Ms. Griffin 08:25:14


Mr. Beck 08:25:17

So, what keeps me up at night really is two things. It's what keeps him [Adm. Aquilino] up at night and moving fast enough to do something about it. You know, I kind of come at this with three lenses. I've been in the department for only six months. Before that I was at Apple for 13 years, and but I've been a naval officer part-time for 26, and when I look at the world from across those lenses I worry a lot about what Admiral Aqulino worries about and the fact that we are doing a lot as a nation to get after that problem. Whether it's in the defense department or the kind of work that Secretary Raimondo, who was here earlier today, is doing around chips or the kinds of things that the private sector is doing diversifying. A lot of those, diversifying out of China. A lot of those things will have an impact somewhere in the 2030s, but we don't have until the 2030s to make a difference because we have to deter major conflict now. We have to be prepared, as the secretary said today, to win and force to fight now. And in 11 to 14 of the areas that we track, [it’s] technologically that make a difference to that problem. Things like artificial intelligence, autonomy, space now, etc. These areas move faster in the commercial tech world than they than they do in our bespoke defense pieces by themselves and they always will. Because they're going to have to move quickly to meet the relentless demands of millions and billions of consumers in the enterprises that serve them and so we have to take full advantage of that. At the same time, that we take full advantage of all the unique bespoke things that we do as a department. The good news is we are we are getting that. We have a Secretary who gets it. You clearly heard that today. We have a deputy secretary who gets it. We have a congress who gets it. We have a commercial tech sector increasingly who gets it,so many of whom are represented here today. And that offers us a tipping point and so what keeps me up at night a little bit or a lot is taking full advantage of that tipping point, and I wish I had 37 hours in every day to do so.

Ms. Griffin 08:25:17

Sen. Rounds?

Sen. Rounds: Secretary, former Secretary of Defense Mattis, when asked that same question said, it's not me that's up at night, I keep other people up at night. And I think that's the attitude that we're going to have to have, which is, we can either be on the defensive, all the time, or we can be on the offensive. Meaning they don't want to be in an adversarial role with us, and that means having the best, the biggest, the strongest, the most complete, and along with that comes all five domains, in which we currently fight: air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. And in every single one of those we have to be better than our adversaries and we've got to be able to put it together, together in such a fashion that they fear having a dust up with us. So, I think Secretary Mattis had it right. We want them to be up at night. The challenge that we have and what would keep us up at night is, have we looked at all of the domains, where is our weakness in any one of those domains? Have they done a better job than we have in any one of those domains, and how are they going to take advantage of it and win? But right now, nah, I think Secretary Mattis had it right we will keep them up at night, and we got to keep it that way.

Ms. Griffin 08:28:54


Mr. Rozanski 08:28:56

First of all, thank you for having me on the best panel of the day. I guess, the one good thing I can say for sleep deprivation is not much keeps me up at night. I generally fall asleep before I hit the pillow. But on a more serious note, and I think Doug said, that this issue of speed is the one that to me is paramount. Admiral Aquilino talks about being ready to fight tonight as the key to deterrence, and while we have accelerated, we're simply not fast enough, yet. Industry needs to play a bigger role in accelerating to get us there and that's, that's what I'm focused on.

Ms. Griffin 08:29:30

Gen. Mahoney?

Gen. Mahoney 08:29:32

Well thanks and to Admiral Aqulino, 80,000 Marines are part of his 300 and multiple team out there and we're proud to do that. This, the idea of speed has already been talked about as something that ought to keep us up at night. And let me just expound and change it to pace. If you believe you're winning a race but the runner behind you is catching you. That would tell you that you need to increase the pace. If you think you're losing, then you need to change the pace to catch up. So in either case we have to be remarkably self-critical about how fast we are moving in all domains as Sen. Rounds said in all areas of technology which has already been alluded to in order to be able to provide that deterrence capability that Admiral Aquilino was talking about. One other idea, and that's depth of magazine you could define it as capacity whether it's intellectual capacity whether it's capacity of weapons. We have to have a depth of magazine that is able to go fight short sharp, that is able to fight a bit more protracted one, that is able to take a hit, reconstitute, and come back at them. So we've got to increase the pace and we need a depth of magazine across all areas that allow us to fight.

Ms. Griffin 08:29:32

One of the more interesting findings in the Reagan defense survey was not that half of Americans think that China is the greatest threat, up from 12% 5 years ago, but that most Americans think that the U.S. military, the traditional military, is superior to China and that the Air Force, whether you're talking about planes, ships, that we are still Superior to China. That's nice, but is it true?

Admiral Aquilino 08:29:32

Well, it's absolutely true but let me give a little different context. It sounds like that survey was measured against airplane, ships. Let me talk about what we do in INDOPACOM and that is to synchronize that Joint Force to deliver an exponential advantage beyond what the layman would see so the ability to integrate and deliver effects from under sea, on the sea, above the sea, on the land, in space, and in cyberspace in a way that is synchronized, focused, and designed to deliver specific effects at specific places anytime we want, to be able to win in combat. Nobody else can do it.

Ms. Griffin 08:32:08

Doug how are you trying to help Admiral Aquilino in the Pacific. What, what is the role of DIU there?

Mr. Beck 08:32:18

So, we are orienting a really a huge proportion of what we're doing toward what Admiral Aquilino has to get after in the Pacific, and he recently stood up something called the Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate on his team, which is driving a number of major innovation efforts including the Joint Fires Network, which is part of what he was just referring to. And we've sent our artificial intelligence lead to be the deputy director and CTO of that effort. We sent other members of the team out there so that we embed completely in order to help understand the problem at its source, so that we can help ensure that we're bringing technology that is solving those problems. Not starting just with great technology and then seeing where it can fit but starting with the most critical problems and then bringing tech that can help solve that.

Ms. Griffin 08:33:11

Sen. Rounds there are also perceptions that that the US is Superior in terms of cyber and AI. Is that true?

Sen. Rounds:

Yes, it is. We are. Our AI capabilities are as great as anybody in the world. Our cyber capabilities, both offensively and defensively, we're very capable. It does not mean that we are perfect, we've still got holes in our defensive capabilities they still get in and they, China, still steals secrets from us. The bottom line, they're good at what they do as well. we don't win every battle with them. We've got to be better on it but the other side of this is there has to be a penalty for them stealing items from us and from people that are within our country and that that penalty comes in the form of offensive cyber capabilities. We're never going to get in a war again until there are cyber operations. That will be a preceding activity now. It may be seconds before that preceding activity but cyber is always going to be a part of whatever we do and we recognize that now. Because you were good at cyber yesterday doesn't mean that you're as good today, and every single day we've got to be improving our capabilities, and that means when it comes to hardware and software we can't be doing it the same old way. We've got to be able to upgrade our systems as fast if not and probably faster than our adversaries can do it, but the other piece of this is that you know we'll never be able to meet their manpower demands. We have to use artificial intelligence. Now, we are using it today but there is no way that we can win and that we can keep our country safe, if we do not have absolutely the best artificial intelligence capabilities at all times. If we lose that race, we lose, and unfortunately this race has no end to it. This is one in which we will constantly have to improve our artificial intelligence capabilities. We've been doing it for years we just haven't called it that. Used to call it machine learning and then the guys that were doing that figured out there was more money in it if they called it artificial intelligence. Now, we call it artificial intelligence but it is there, it is for real, we have to incorporate it. If we do not incorporate it appropriately then we lose. We have to have it

Ms. Griffin 08:35:38

Horacio, Booz Allen has been in Ukraine since the very beginning even before this current round of the conflict. At the start once Russia invaded there was a belief that they were going to have such cyber capabilities they could overwhelm, turn off the lights, it would be game over within a week what happened?

Mr. Rozanski 08:36:00

I'll leave that to the war fighters to answer the question, but you know as I want to piggy back on Senator Round's point. You know we're the largest provider of AI and cyber to the federal government and we've been thinking about this topic for a very long time and I think when you look at that survey what the American people intuit is what Sen. Rounds said, which is unlike conventional systems these digital systems are going to be in almost near peer competition forever. We may be ahead one day and we need to stay ahead the next day. But, every day is going to be a new fight. Every day is going to be a new battle. And, I think the role that American industry can play, like it did in the 40s, like it did during the Cold War, is to provide a symmetric advantage to our war fighters, so that they can do what they did in Ukraine what they are doing in the Pacific, what they need to do in the Middle East around Israel.

Ms. Griffin 08:36:53

So, you were just in Taiwan what was your takeaway?

Mr. Rozanski 08:36:58

So, I spent the week in Taiwan to really try and understand what and get a personal sense of what was happening, and I had at the high level three big takeaways that fit into this conversation. The first one is on the spectrum of cooperation, competition, conflict, and combat. it very much feels like conflict. Past competition the both at the kinetic and non-kinetic level the PRC continues to really attack Taiwan and look to degrade them. The second thing is especially because of Ukraine because of Hong Kong and now because of Israel there, there's a greater sense of urgency that I, you get a sense from the legislators and from the people of Taiwan that there might have been a couple of years ago but unfortunately there's a difference between urgency and speed, the urgency is not yet translating into speed and here again is a place where American industry could band together and help get to the level of speed necessary for deterrence.

Ms. Griffin 08:36:58

Sen. Rounds, just to pick up on something you said. Obviously, AI is going to be crucial for adding speed to this, to the ability of innovation to win the next War. Why is Congress only allocating and why is the government only, or why is the administration only asking for 1% of the defense budget to be spent on AI?

Sen. Rounds 08:38:32

I think there's two parts to it. The first part is, I'm not sure if you go to the Department of Defense and you asked them and by the way I did. What would happen if you had multiple billions of dollars more where would you put it, and the first, the first response I got back was we're not quite sure where we would put it right now. So, number one we have to have the planning laid out in advance. I think that's changing as when ChatGPT3 came on board suddenly the whole world woke up to the fact that this is not pie in the sky for a couple of years from now. This is real and now. I think the folks are starting to say you know what we really could, we really could in incorporate that a lot faster if we really started pushing. We use AI today so it's not like we're not utilizing it, but here's the deal and I, I'm just, I'm going to turn this around a little bit. We can't afford to lose this race. In Ukraine, they're losing thousands of young men regularly. Russia is losing hundreds of thousands. We don't do business that way and so the bottom line for us is if you think of the cost of a single War it magnifies by a hundred or a thousand times the cost to our country of just having an adequate defense budget and so if we can continue to send the message to the American people AI is real and we have to invest in it and by the way every dollar we put into it right now will keep us out of a war and if we do get into a war we will save young lives.

Mr. Beck 08:40:20

Can I can I build on what the Senator said?

Ms. Griffin 08:40:21


Mr. Beck 08:40:22

So, I actually want to build on two things that you said, because I think they're really important. The first one is and I could not agree more that every day that we lose because we don't because we don't have a way to get after the problem is a day that we don't get back. And, by the way um I've got some great ideas of where to spend that money. So if you need any, guys, I’m right over here. The second thing that you said that I think is really really important was about offense versus defense in some of these critical technology areas whether we're thinking about cyber we think about artificial intelligence. We have to, of course, responsibly think about defense of some of those Technologies and controlling our intellectual property. But if there's one thing that I learned in 13 years at Apple is, you don't win in technology on defense. You, you have to win by winning and you win by getting, by continuing to advance the very very best technology, advancing forward, adopting it, and adopting it with the scale that allows you to make a difference. You win by winning.

Ms. Griffin 08:41:25

And Doug just to follow up there was recently I think 33,000 Silicon Valley technologists who signed a petition saying that given the fears of AI and how it could be used for mal-intent, that it should be paused right now maybe 6 months’ pause while we figure out the guard rails what would be the impact on Admiral Aquilino in the INDOPACOM what, what would happen if, if there was that pause?

Mr. Beck 08:41:53

Yeah I, I'm not a fan of pause in this way. I do think that we need to be simultaneously thinking very hard about the implications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, because we don't have true artificial intelligence yet. Although we may very soon, as Alex was on this morning, talks about a lot, and we have to we have to guard against the risk that that creates and the people who we would worry about most leveraging that technology in a nefarious way. Whether they are state actors or not, they're not going to pause (Senator Roberts: Amen) and so the way that you counter the risks of AI is again winning by winning and I think a big part of what you're going to need in order to manage the risks that come with AI is AI.

Ms. Griffin 08:42:50

Admiral Aquilino, let's talk about the latest war games in terms of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. What do they tell you? Who wins?

Admiral Aquilino 08:43:00

When we, and we do a lot of War games, but what I would start with is an understanding a war game is designed to do right. There's no board in the corner wall that says win, lose, check. What it's designed to do is to learn. We do them based on different times, different capabilities, different scenarios, different assumptions so I don't look, really look too much to the board. What I look for is what have I learned as it applies to a variety of different things. Capabilities, posture, presence, all of the things we do each and every day to deter the force so, again, I pay less attention to that but the synchronization of what we do in that game, in those games with the components, with the support from the services, with innovative capabilities that we pull from Doug. How we feed them in the concept of operations, that's the focus. So we continue to do those, we continue to learn, and like always we continue to get better.

Ms. Griffin 08:44:09

So, what's your greatest vulnerability right now?

Admiral Aquilino 08:44:14

Well certainly that is nothing I would tell on the record for the this is not a classified session.  Let me turn it around a little bit and talk about what our greatest advantages are, and then where technology can help us even get better. So, number one I described before the in the ability to integrate The Joint Force in all domains. Well, speeding that up, this theme of speed delivering capabilities that are needed to continue to present overmatch to the challengers is the focus so. Doug mentioned the Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate that we pulled into INDOPACOM, that's designed to take one of the U. S’s greatest advantages of all time, is the innovation of the people here in Silicon Valley, and across the globe, and take those capabilities, and weave them into war fighting requirements. And for the INDOPACOM, we talk about it in the form of decision superiority. We need to have, we have it, we need to continue to have, it we need to get better at it, to the race that Sen. Rounds and Gen. Mahoney described. This is a true race and people are trying to catch us, so maintaining that advantage, but for me decision superiority looks like this. The ability to blind, see and kill any adversary that decides to take us on. All right. Those technologies that are there, the algorithms, the large model language model options and Ai, however you describe it, feeds directly into my blind see and kill requirements. So blind, I need the adversary to not know what's coming at them blind, deafen, and dumb. See. I need instantaneous understanding of everything in the battle space at all times. And then Kill. I need the weapons, the effectors, the network, and the access to be able to deliver those effects and those are the things that deter.

Ms. Griffin 08:46:28

Gen. Mahoney, you, the Marine Corps, has been undergoing a great transformation. It started under General Burger, you're continuing it. What capabilities do you not need anymore, and how are you transitioning? Tell us about the latest. I think it was the 12th Littoral Regiment.

Gen. Mahoney 08:46:46

Yeah the 12th Littoral Regiment, Marine Littoral Regiment. So that makes two. There's the third Marine Littoral Regiment in Hawaii in the 12th that was just inaugurated on the 14th of this month out at Okinawa. Getting away from titles and names and going back to what Admiral Aquino just talked about. Marine Corps uses a little bit different terms of art. Admiral Aquilino says see, blind, kill. We say reconnaissance, counter reconnaissance, and lethality which all add up to the same thing. What can I see, understand, and describe? How do I hide? how do I conceal? how do I deceive and then what lethality do I have in range and timeliness and in precision, so that Admiral Aquino or whatever the command structure is, can make the decisions in time, faster than our adversaries. And that would lead me to a fourth element, which is the command and control decisions to speed decision superiority the first among equals. If you cannot do that, if you cannot knit all of the capabilities that Doug is talking about. All the things that Booz Allen brings to the floor then you, you're punching in with your eyes closed we have to be able to provide that data in a rationalized way in a timely way in a resilient way to the COCOM commander, so that he or she can make those decisions.

Ms. Griffin 08:48:13

So, what technologies do you need?

Gen. Mahoney 08:48:15

The technologies that we need as far as, we need exquisite sensing so that we can discern what is out there. Hold. Identify what is out there, hold it at risk. Then we need to be able to make sure that we In-turn are not being targeted, so we need systems in a counter reconnaissance way where we can deceive the enemy as to our location or our intent or our activity but lethality kind of speaks for itself. We need something that can reach out in time, whether it's organic or whether it's from The Joint Force. But we need once again, the technologies to take that data, put it into a format that is rationalized against all other data inputs and present it in such a way that it can be used to come back out whether it's through lethal means, whether it's through active or passive means to have the effect that you want to have.

Ms. Griffin 08:49:06

And what are the war games telling you in terms of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan? What are what are you learning from them?

Gen. Mahoney 08:49:13

Well what, what we're learning is and this isn't specific to war games with Taiwan. If you are big, if you are slow, if you emit across the electromagnetic spectrum across the visual spectrum, across the IR spectrum, you will be targeted and you will be hit. Size matters, speed matters. Your ability to move, maneuver, and importantly sustain, in a distributed manner gives you an advantage that's what we're learning in the Marine Corps, we're trying to present that in the INDOPACOM theater in the form of MLR’s

Ms. Griffin 08:49:47

Horacio, what has Booz Allen learned in Ukraine that's applicable to Taiwan?

Mr. Rozanski 08:49:53

I think a lot of the, the main lessons are twofold. One is the true power of open source intelligence. It, it is an incredible new set of tools that are, are coming to bear in a different way and then as Gen. Mahoney was saying, the need for integration. Integration, integration, integration. There's an almost an infinite number of sensors out there. How do you put them all together in a way that the war fighter has them, at the ready, at the edge on a timely basis to operate inside the adversary’s decision cycle?

Ms. Griffin 08:50:29

And this might be a controversial question but do you think Israel relied too much on technology and that's what caught them off guard with Hamas being able to surprise them on October 7th?

Mr. Rozanski 08:50:42

I generally don't think we know yet. There's been some recent reporting that in fact they had indications and warnings going back for a year that they may have overlooked I don't know how that plays all into it so I think time will and history will really tell, but I, I don't think that any of these things are, are one-offs, you know. AI isn't going to solve every problem; we're not going to solve anything in one war fighting domain. Whether it is a kinetic domain or a non-kinetic domain it's really about integrating across all of these things. Senator Roberts talked about going beyond the chain to kill the matrix and I think that's the kind of thinking we need to bring to bear and, and again, and it's also not going to be one company. A lot of what we're focused on is transforming ourselves so we can bring other companies to work with us whether they're small companies that we capture or we invest in through our corporate venture fund. Whether they're hyper scalers that we partner with on on major programs, it's really going to take an all of nation effort to overcome these challenges.

Mr. Beck 08:51:49

Can I, can I build on that Ukraine question that you asked because I think this is a really important one for all of us to think about right now. And when I think about the lessons from Ukraine from a DIU perspective. We've really, I'd say learned sort of three big yeses and a not yet big yes. Number one and you know, we we've already talked about some of these pieces, is just the, the incredible relevance that a whole variety of new technologies is bringing to the battlefield. Whether you're talking about commercial space on a collection, from a collection standpoint, or the analysis that goes with that from an artificial intelligence standpoint, or crowd sourcing of targeting information, including from not just troops but but civilians. Or um, all the things that unmanned systems of all kind are doing with first-person view through to all kinds of different use cases that nobody was thinking about before this isn't science fiction anymore, it's real and it's having significant impact on the battlefield. You still need 155 but, but, but there's not a question anymore about the, the relevance of those capabilities so that's a big yes. A second big yes is the, the, the power that some, sometimes that commercial technology can bring to bear. Sometimes for us with a partner faster than something we may have ourselves because there are a lot of complexities about taking a program we've already got and bringing it to a friend but sometimes we can say hey there's this company over here you might want to talk to because they got something that's pretty cool and, that can help things happen very quickly that's been enormously relevant in Ukraine and it and it's relevant for INDOPACOM as well. The third big, third big, yes is about talent. Do we've, we've got, you know, we've had people out there working with for example the SAG U which is our, our capability with our partners to help support the Ukrainians. A lot of this isn't just about bringing tech. It’s about bringing the problems solving from people who understand the technology to think about how do we work together with the war fighter to make something happen live in the moment so there's some big yeses the big not yet and this is something I really think we need to we need to focus on and we are focused on as a department right now is scale so all of that stuff I've talked about isn't yet happening at the scale that we needed to happen in order to have the Strategic effect either to deter Russia um or to have the impacts we need for Admiral Aquilino in the Indo-Pacific some of the some of that great technology that we're talking about so we need that scale for us to deliver the Strategic effects and, and the companies need that scale in order to make the ROI work for them. Because some of these companies that are delivering that great technology have actually had to lay people off while they're doing it. They need the scale to be able to make the ROI work and to make the Investments to be able to have the capacity for us to have the scale so we need to deliver the demand signal for scale.

Ms. Griffin 08:54:40

And they also need a budget so that then they can plan. Sen. Rounds do you think the American people would support more aid to Ukraine if they understood what the U.S. Military and Industry is learning from the battlefield in Ukraine?

Sen. Rounds 08:54:55

Yes. I think there's a larger issue that has to be overcome first and, and that is that regardless of when you talk about a program in which you're going to defend whether it be Israel or whether it be, be Ukraine there will be a large percentage of the American public will say but what about defending our own Southern border. 77% of the American public say that that's a critical issue. It's one of the reasons why we're having the discussion in Congress right now about how do we go about making sure that our Southern border is built back up again so that we don't have 240,000 people a month coming over the border that will have to be discussed so, number one it is defending the southern border. Second piece on it is, is yes, they also, we need to do a better job of explaining that in defending Ukraine we are defending our own interests as well. I want to go back to one item just in terms of the capabilities that are out there right now and the way that the next wars may be fought and these are experts so I'm really getting out of my field here but, I'm going to just try it as a suggestion. (Side comment: You're an expert sir) no the Nagorno-Karabakh War the second Nagorno-Karabakh war was fought about three years ago between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In a matter of 60 days Azerbaijan, which clearly is not a first world in terms of, of capability, they were able to take back the Nagorno-Karabakh region between the two countries on a smaller scale but they destroyed over a thousand pieces of equipment that were Armenian in nature and they used drones, they used art if, what is a limited form of artificial intelligence in loitering drones that literally talked to each other on a battlefield laid out kill zones and in that kill zone they would identify the anti-aircraft equipment that was there, they identified the tanks that were there.They identified command centers that were there and the drones loitering up; identified which type of of of ammo would take out which type of target and they talked to each other. There was no human in the loop. They took out over that 60-day period of time a thousand different pieces of Machinery or targets. Armenia couldn't respond to that. The same thing has now been advanced in Ukraine and in Ukraine they're doing the same thing on a on a larger scale but you have the same thing happening war is changing and artificial intelligence is a part of it on the battlefield today. Granted in a limited form but if we're not learning from this and recognizing that when it comes to China this is going to be on a larger scale with thousands of more miles that have to be dealt with but we have to be prepared to take on a similar type of risk and to have those types of capabilities if we're going to win this battle.

Ms. Griffin 08:57:55

And Admiral Aquilino what lesson do you think China is taking from the war in Ukraine what are you seeing?

Admiral Aquilino 08:58:00

Well there are numerous but before whenever you. I get this question a lot. Before I try to get into Xi Jinping’s head, I always come back with you know what is it that we learned right. This persistent sense of learning for me was number one. So, when, when the invasion occurred, number one it validated our incredible intelligence apparatus. So, for General Paul Nakasone and his team and the rest of the Department of Defense intelligence apparatus, that was really impressive. We need that, we need that exquisite intelligence persistently. I think president Xi Jinping wasn’t a bit happy with his intelligence apparatus. Second, what did we learn? We learned the munitions issue that was described is applicable in the United States and the stockpiles and in my theater, the types of weapons that I need, we need to take that on very quickly and we've identified that as a set of requirements. The third thing that I learned, that I think President Xi Jinping probably learned also, is we have to go faster to deliver the posture, the capabilities, we need the linkage, and continued growth with allies and partners because we're stronger when we're together and then we have to design and execute our operations such that our security Challenger sees the most lethal integrated combat Force ever and that then he wakes up in the morning he knows he's going to lose.

Ms. Griffin 08:59:39

Horacio, when you were in Taiwan were you surprised by some changes that they'd made in terms of military service what, what, what did you find?

Mr. Rozanski 08:58:49

So it goes back to the question of urgency, and, and, the, the question that that I kept asking is are, are people going to respond to this? I mean it's one thing for policy makers, for military leaders who see this day today and the clearest data point was the, the almost no push back that the changing the law received. When they change the conscript, conscription timing for four months to a year. Again, growing up in Argentina in a place I had a conscription when I was 18, I can tell you that no 18-year-old wants to be forced into military service especially if you don't know what you're going to be doing and it's not your calling and so the fact that that the nation got behind it I think is a really good sign that people are taking note. Having said that, they have an upcoming election; they have a, a number of things that they're contending with and they have a, a, a status quo that that may not be ideal by any stretch of the imagination but in some Corners is what they expect maybe the best deal they can get right now.

Ms. Griffin 09:00:55

Doug, tell us about replicator. Where does things stand and why is it going to be a game changer?

Mr. Beck 09:01:01

Yeah so, I'm actually glad you asked that question. There have been a lot of there’s there's a lot of confusion out there about, about replicators, so I, it's useful maybe just to clear some of that up. Replicator is fundamentally about delivering two things. First, it's about delivering real impact and do it fast on a critical need leveraging autonomous systems, attritable autonomous systems, doing so at scale in order to help solve problems Admiral Aquilino has identified. That's one. And second-it's about doing that in a way that it helps us break down systemic barriers across the department that helps us to do that fast like that again and again and again which is why I like to think of as being kind of replicable, the maybe stepping a back, back a notch from it the, one of the things that gets a little bit less press but is super important that the the deputy secretary of defense and the vice chairman have set up is this new deputies Innovation Steering group, which elevates innovation too. The way the vice chairman talks about it is, innovation alongside the JROC process for requirements, the DMAC process for for budgets which both which the two of them co-chair also now they co-chair this for Innovation. That DISG, which we at from DIU, set the agenda for and then chair the, the Defense Innovation working group which, which is its subordinate or working group that's the governance structure for replicator and that is all about delivering concrete operational effects against real strategic priorities and doing so in a way that breaks down systemic barriers so that's what replicator is all about. As we get through this, we will meet the timeline of 18 to 24 months of, of putting, putting multiple thousands of, of systems in place in order to meet the needs and we will do that in a way, this that, that it delivers changes to the way that we work in order to get there and that's the other the last part that I I really want to stress. This is a whole of Department effort. DIU iu is in, in is, in the position of bringing that team together but this is the services at the table, the combatant commanders at the table; partners across OSD and the joint staff at the table working together to solve that problem with systems we already have going that we need to accelerate and get into the field and some that we'll be bringing in to help fill gaps that are new that we don't already have in place.

Ms. Griffin 09:03:39

Gen. Mahoney, you've spent 26 years out in the Pacific. What has changed in your time of service there and, and what surprises you most in terms of the changes there?

Gen. Mahoney 09:03:51

well I think that the changes have occurred across the board. I started as a young first lieutenant flying A-6’s. I think Admiral Aquilino was flying Tomcats at the time. Certainly from a military standpoint at that time, the noses of our airplanes were pointed directly at Pyongyang; that's all we cared about. As time went on the military situation changed appreciably to shift toward, more toward the south in a remarkable way. We learn when we joined the service as a young officer to do force correlation. How many do we have, how many do they have, what can theirs do, what can ours do, and it wasn't even a, we didn't even think about China at the time. As I said the potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula was the biggest concern that we had over time and a very short period of time I might add that has changed dramatically from a force correlation standpoint and from a military activity standpoint from the Malacca Straits the, all the way around to the Southwest Islands in Japan, the presence, the persistence, the coercive activity of the PLA under the Sea, on the sea, and above the sea, has been remarkable not only that but coordinated action which started out as a few surface combatants maybe a UAV. Are now obviously coordinated so you've seen a force correlation change you've seen an activity change and you've seen it become much more, more integrated that's my opinion.

Admiral Aquilino 09:05:24

Can I, let me, can I jump on that. I’ve got an opinion other than we're both old because he dated us by the airplanes we flew. The largest military buildup in history since World War II, at the greatest speed both in the conventional lane and the strategic nuclear lane across all domains, maritime, air, land, space, cyberspace that's what's changed. Now, what's also changed is the risk at which the leadership in the PRC is willing to use it. So, for a decade the approach was strategically hide and bide and the current leadership is ready to show strength and aggressive actions that should be concerning to all they are concerning to me. The best example I would lay down is what's happening right now with our Philippine counterparts in the vicinity of Second Thomas Shoal. They are trying to resupply their forces on their ship Sierra Madre. They are being blocked, they are being water cannoned, they are being lazed, and they're being rammed. Now why is that so concerning? The PRC has now articulated that Second Thomas Shoal is Sovereign territory of China. That has been disbanded or excuse me that has been disavowed by the legal Court tribunal ruling in 2016. The Chinese have no claim to that space yet they are enforcing an illegal claim as a part of the East and South China Sea that's concerning.

Ms. Griffin 09:07:14

Is it time for a Manhattan Project when it comes to AI and this, these technologies that you need to achieve superiority not parity with China?

Admiral Aquilino 09:07:29

I, I think the theme of acceleration  Doug's team is doing an incredible job of being able to pull in all that innovation in the United States and being able to focus it at speed so I don't think it it of it in the form of a Manhattan Project. I think of it in the form of focusing the right capabilities in the right place, at the right time, for the right outcome, at speed because AI for in specificity has applications across all areas whether it be decision superiority sensing fusion kinetic weapons delivery in the form of swarms or other actions. So I don't think it's one, I think it would limit ourselves, but I think I'll put it this way, the theme that we use at INDOPACOM is we have to think, act, and operate differently every day this world is much different than as, as long as three years ago and if we can think, act, and operate differently to deliver those outcomes we certainly have the people, the organization, and the structure to do it we're self-limiting.

Ms. Griffin 09:08:40

Doug is DIU the new Manhattan Project?

Mr. Beck 09:08:45

I wouldn't call us the new Manhattan Project. I think this is a whole of department effort. I would say you know, we have to take DIU somewhere different from where, from where, we've been building on everything, that we've, that we've done at the very beginning of DIU then when Secretary Carter first stood us up he was present in seeing the problem that we're all talking about today, which is why he did this. And back then, when I would come to this event, I and some of my friends I see a few of them here today. We felt like insur…, like tech insurgents at this event. And now look at the list that's you know that's up on the sponsors today, who's here, we are way past that. That was 1.0. 2.0 was about proving that you could take real military problems, you and you could solve them with commercial tech and, I see Mike Brown and Ara? Shaw both, both out there. Their amazing leadership really helps build the capability to do that. Well, now we have to take that capability and apply it with the focus speed and scale necessary to achieve the strategic effect that [Admiral] Aquilino’s talking about. That's what DIU3.0 is all about that's why the secretary elevated us to report direct to him and that's what we got to get after. And can I add one, one point on, on the, the topic of risk? (Ms. Griffin: yes) So, you know I've spent most of my career as a private sector executive and, but I, I did have the, the privilege of serving for a little over a year with a Joint Special Operations task force in Iraq and Afghanistan. I see some former teammates out there today in the audience. And I came home from that experience understanding at a very visceral level that most of what I'd spent my entire career thinking of as risk wasn't that was uncertainty and I used to build risk models in in that career and, and lead around them. Risk is risk to Mission, risk to force, and risk to our nation strategically and what we have to do and what programs like replicator that we're talking about which by the way are going to hit snags and have problems. We have to take risk of the kind that is reputational risk Financial Risk process risk maybe for some people even career risk we have to take that kind of risk now so that we don't transfer it into real risk for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Guardians, who will have to fight the war if we don't do that now.

Ms. Griffin 09:11:11

Admiral Aquilino, we have one question that's come in asking you what you think of replicator?

Admiral Aquilino 09:11:16

So first, I thank the Secretary and the deputy Secretary for the initiative. Again, a lot of it was based on some of the requirements and, and thoughts and Concepts that were you know socialized from INDOPACOM. Plus, again the, the deputy's initiative and vision, huge supporter so again we talked about Doug has a deputy in one of my directorates in my headquarters. It's designed to help speed this up. The Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate, it was titled appropriately, so very supportive. It certainly is focused on Indo-Pacific needs and I'm tremendously thankful to the team.

Ms. Griffin 09:12:00

Gen. Mahoney we have another question. How has the fog of war changed?

Gen. Mahoney 09:12:06

I'm not I'm not sure how to come back at that except that it will always be present. You will have an uncertainty volume of what your capabilities are. You will have a uncertainty volume about what your adversary's capabilities are and what importantly your adversary is thinking. And that uncertainty volume will shrink and expand over time and if I go back to a point that was made earlier, Admiral Aquilino’s idea of division, decision superiority and the ways to get at that, are the way to shrink that uncertainty volume that fog down to an absolute minimum, back to a down, to a point where it becomes decisive. Where what you do speed and lethality and effect there's nothing that your adversary can do to overcome that.

Ms. Griffin 09:12:55

Horacio, few last thoughts.

Mr. Rozanski 09:12:58

I, I think I was pondering on your notion of the Manhattan Project and I think that the maybe the better analogy is, you know when you read books like Freedom's Forge or The Arsenal of Democracy and, and you, you go back to that time. There was a whole mobilization of American industry to get behind these concepts, to be able to scale these technologies very quickly, and there's a lot of failure along the way. And, and the system that we have now I think, first of all, does not aggregate enough scale from across American industry especially American Technology industry and is very risk averse with regards to failure, and the trade-off between failure and speed is clear. If we really go faster we're going to have to allow some things to, to fail along the way, and to fail fast is actually a benefit not a, a, a problem so I think if we can shift our Focus again towards speed towards bringing all of American industry as an asymmetric advantage and and towards a little bit of budget certainty so that people can plan and invest against that, I think we can continue to stay ahead.

Ms. Griffin  09:14:04

Sen. Rounds I'll give you the last, last word since you hold the purse string. Is the NDS, the national defense strategy ambitious enough to beat China to stay Superior and not just shoot for parody?

Sen. Rounds 09:12:58

I believe it's a step in the right direction I think our, our job is to make sure that the young men and women who, who put themselves in harm's way are never entering into a fair fight first of all. Second of all, that we can continue to invest in the next technologies so that the current technologies actually work. B21 absolutely. NGAT absolutely. Space-based capabilities that not only can deliver information but can also be protected. Cyber capabilities that will continue to protect and cyber offensive operations that make our enemies fearful of messing with us. There's one more thing and that is, is we are still the place in the world that people fight to get into Albert Einstein came to this country. Can you imagine a Manhattan Project without an Albert Einstein? There are others out there that we should be welcoming into our country that will help to make our country stronger we need that Talent this is the place where development should occur and that development only occurs if we have the resources to do it but also the talent to make it happen and that comes from all over the world let's invite them in.

Ms. Griffin  09:15:50

Well that's a great note to end on. I want to thank my panelists and thank our audience for their questions. Thank you.


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