tv Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair Discusses Security Challenges CSPAN September 13, 2021 2:02pm-3:01pm EDT
in the 1980s and worked their whole way to 2000. and in there they talked about osama bin laden who, i think it was during president clinton's time, they came to the united states and they said, you know, thist guy's a bad guy, let's, you know, you can have him. and they said, well, let's send him to afghanistan because it's purchase -- >> we're going to leave "washington journal" here, but you can always find these discussions in their entirety at c-span.org. take you live now to a discussion about u.s. security challenges with the vice chair of the joint chiefs of staff, general john hyten, hosted by the brookings institution, live on c-span2. >> -- this fall and making way for a new vice chairman, the identity of who we do not yet know. general hyten began as a cadet
and studied engineering. the vice chairman is often quite involved ott not only as the deputy to the chairman, but in some ways the chief uniform technologist -- that's not an official label or slogan, but it is, in fact, often the case, and general hyten's background all the way through when he was combatant commander at u.s. strategic command, he has often been involved in the high technology aspects of our military, as if they were involved quite high-tech, but he's particularly been involved in the domain of nuclear forces, satellite weapons -- satellite capability, communications infrastructure, command and control. if you read through his bio, you see a lot of assignments in colorado, in nebraska, in alabama where the u.s. military has a lot of its spaces-related assets and, of course, at the pentagon and also in the middle east. so i think we will begin today -- first, i'm going to give the general a moment just to say greetings to the crowd
and amend anything i described about the vice chairman role he may want to underscore, and then we'll start to walk through a little bit of his reflections of much of the vice chairman agenda, such as it is. in other words, a lot of the technology side of things, modernization, innovation, a lot of the ideas that secretary mattis put forth in the 2018 national defense strategy, but also ideas that predated and have followed those concepts and programs, concepts that he's been extremely involved in developing over his career. so, general hyten, thank you again very much for joining us. let me just give you a chance to say hello to everyone. >> hello, everyone. good afternoon. it's a pleasure to be with you today. i think the most important thing you need to know about the vice chairman's job is the most important word in the job is the first word, vice. not the second, not the third, vice is the most important word. i came in with three priorities. first priority was to make sure
my bosses get the best military advice that i can provide. i do everything i can to make them successful. and then in my copious free time, i try to make sure i put speed into everything we do and try to make sure i always remember to take care of the people that actually get the job done because like all officers, i don't get to do any work anymore, i just lead the people who do. good to be with you, michael, i look forward to your questions. >> you and i discussed earlier we would focus this conversation on sort of high-level defense modernization, innovation and strategy, but you've obviously been involved and many of the people that you were just saluting and that i salute and thank for all the crisis response in afghanistan this summer. as the u.s. military carried out what i think was an extraordinary evacuation operation, very little foreknowledge of when it would be necessary or if it would be necessary. and i just want to thank you. a lot of the coverage has been,
of course, where things went awithdrew and the controversy around -- awry and the controversy around the fundamental decision by president biden to pull forces out this year. but separately from that, i just want with to give a big round of applause to the men and women that you commanded and/or helped command and oversaw and what they accomplished for the country. so i'd like to join you in that but also ask you for any updates you might have today where we stand exactly in the afghanistan operation. >> so, you know, thanks for those comments. i do very much appreciate it. and i know the people that participated in that mission appreciate that recognition as well because, you know, when you look back, we went down to 2500 really directed by the end of the last administration, and then the decision to leave or not was finally made in april. and so when august rolled around, we were basically down to a minimal security force at the embassy. all the other american forces were gone.
and so to come back in after that amount of time as quickly as we did, i think, was a pretty remarkable mission. i think everybody that wears the uniform has experienced hot of emotion these days -- lots of emotion these days. you know, disappointment, anger, frustration. but i think we're also feeling a lot of pride, pride in doing every mission we've been asked is to have done the last 20 years and pride on the way we executed this last mission. sadly, it came at significant price over the last 20 years with all those we lost and then in the last mission was the 13 that we lost. that wears heavily on all of us. but nonetheless, you know, i looked at the vietnam experience the other day, and in the vietnam evacuation from 1975 to june of 1976 by air and sea the united states evacuated 80,000
vietnamese and another roughly 50,000 evacuated themselves over land, private boats. so about 130,000 people evacuated over 14 months, one of the largest evacuations ever in the history of man kind. mankind. and is we evacuated 124,000 in basically less than two weeks. from -- starting from nothing because we really had no military capability when we started. now we have over 50,000 of those folks that are in the united states at eight military bases across the country right now. we have about 10,000 left in europe, about 3,000 left in central command, we still have to move out. we'll do that over the coming weeks smartly and at the right time to make sure we know what we're going to do as we move out. and really it was a pretty remarkable mission, but it's not done yet. but i like to think that a lot
of those people now have a chance at a free future. many of them will become american citizens, i think, in the future. you never know. one of them may most likely will grow up and do great things. so thanks for letting me talk about that for a couple minutes. >> we appreciate it very much. and so in recognition of the centrality of great power competition, the national defense strategy and whatever now new ideas are being developed by the biden team with the uniform military to go to the next step, i wanted to focus our conversation really on the national defense strategy and on technology. and the big picture issues that have consumed so much of your time and energy. and i wanted to begin with a big, broad question. i'm not asking for a comprehensive answer, but sort of an overall perspective. how well are we doing at implementing secretary mattis' defense strategy which even
though we're in a new presidency with a new secretary of defense, it remains an influential document that partly grew out of latter-day obama administration i think, with the so-called third offset. i see a great amount of continuity. they still had pentagon strategies that have tended to focus increasessingly on great -- increasingly on great power competition with secretary mattis's document being the ultimate so far until supplanted by a biden modification of whatever form. so how are we doing? what are the key heads of the national defense strategy, and how well have we achieved them so far? >> i think the biggest ten innocent of the national defense strategy is that a threat-based strategy. if you think back to lot of our strategies, up until the latter participant of the obama administration all our -- part of the obama, all of our
strategies were capability-based. in 2000 in the qdr in the year 2000, we made the statement that we no longer have any peer adversaries, and so because of that, we don't have a defined threat, and we just need to build the best capabilities we can. and if we do that, we will stay ahead of any adversary that we find on the planet. the problem with that strategy, which was in place for 15 years, the problem with that strategy is that you tell every potential competitor you have in the world exactly what you're doing, and you telegraph that to everybody. and our potential adversaries -- russia and china in particular -- watched that exactly. they knew exactly what we were doing, and they started building capabilities to counter that. so i think the biggest adjustment in the national defense strategy -- and that will carry forward now -- that
we have a threat-based strategy that we have to respond to. i think that's a good piece about it. and if you look at the ways and means defined in that strategy, a lot of those ways and means will continue. the new administration will get a chance to put their own stamp on it. you've already heard secretary austin talk about the concept of integrated deterrence. we can talk about that if you want to. and so i think it's, the 2018 strategy, the strategy promulgated by secretary mattis, really moved us into that threat-based approach. i think that's the big strength. and it started us moving towards the challenge that we're going to face with china. now, the downside is we're still moving unbelievably slow. unbelievably slow. we're so bureaucratic, and we're so risk-averse. because when you don't have any potential adversaries out there, you can try to remove all risk from the system, and you can go slow. but when you have a competitor, especially like china -- and
russia, but when you have them growing so fast, you have to be able to move fast as well. and we still move way too slow overall. >> thank you. i wanted to follow up on the russia versus china concept and see if you really were prioritizing china much more than russia at this point because, certainly, if we hi back to the history of this debate over the last six years or so, chairman dunford talked about the four plus one threats. and at that point it was russia, china, north korea, iran and terrorists. and it wasn't even clear in the pecking order where china might be vis-a-vis the others. and then with the national defense strategy, the focus was on great power competition, and it sort of seems like russia and china in some places were being treated as roughly comparably dangerous threats. but in other places, people would say, well, russia's a shorter-term problem, but china's the more comprehensive superpower. but in military threat assessment terms, how do you
look at it? are the two equally concerning to you, or are you really focused primarily at this point on china? >> so when we went through the national defense strategy, it went from the four plus one, you know, before the 2018 strategy to the two plus three. china, russia and then iran, north korea and violent extremism. that was the two plus three. and the two facing threats were russia and china. and then we began to discuss china in more certain terms, and the current administration -- both president biden and secretary austin -- have made it crystal clear that china is the pacing threat. china's the pacing threat that we have to be concerned about not only today, but in the near term and in the long term. that is not meant to discount the potential threat that russia brings especially with their
significantly large nuclear force that they've built that is now pretty much fully modernized where ours is not. nonetheless, secretary austin and the president made it crystal clear to all the military leadership, china's the pacing threat, and we need to focus on that. is so as we've looked at the development of the new war-fighting concept, the first we look at is china, trying to make sure we understand that. this year we're also expanding it to look at russia, but nonetheless are, it's been made crystal clear to us this china's the pacing threat. >> so, thank you. one last word on china, and then i want to get to the technology, some of the modernization efforts to try to address this threat. sort of in a broad historical, strategic and even philosophic level, i wanted to ask you how you look at china as a threat and specifically how you assess the likelihood that we will have to fight them in the future in some way, shape or form.
because as you know, in the world i live in, the world you've been part of in your harvard studies and elsewhere, there are people like graham allison, professor at harvard, who have argued in his book that most times when you have a new superpower arrive to the level of an old one, war is the vehicle or method by which they adjudicate their relative standing. and i think allison goes through 16 historical cases and says that 12 of them have been settled by conflict. obviously, in the nuclear age that brings a whole new dimension to the question. so i wondered if you wanted to use your own words to explain the likelihood of war as you see it and just how we think about handling this threat. >> you know, we always have to be concerned about the trap like professor allison talks about. but we went through that same thing with the soviet union ever since world war ii.
we went through what was the most significant, you know, confrontation between two great powers that the world had seen at that time because it was the first two great powers that had massive, massive nuclear weapons. and we never came to major war during that entire period. we didn't because we always maintained a deterrent, they always maintained a strategic deterrent, and because of that we never crossed the line. it doesn't mean that there weren't conflicts. you could look at vietnam, you could look at a number of different respect -- different elements that were conflict through surrogates if you wanted to discuss it that way. but fundamentally, we never went to war with the soviet union. so when you look at great powers, our goal should be to never go to war with china, to never go to war with russia because those -- that day is a
horrible day for the planet if, a horrible day for our country. it are wrecks the world, it wrecks the world's economy. it's bad for everybody. so we have to make sure we don't go down that path. we've had pretty good success with the soviet yard line onand now russia -- soviet union. we're having strategic talks with russia to make sure we understand where we are not just in the nuclear realm, but in space as well. we need to have that conversation start with the chinese, we really do. we need to be able to sit down, i need to be able to sit down, general milley needs to be able to sit down, secretary austin, the political leadership, the state department and talk about these issues with china. because as different as we are, we do have a fundamental, common goal and that is to never go to war with each other. because nuclear power is a bad thing. i'll just stop there. >> that's great. actually, i do have one follow-up before we get to some
specific technology issues, and it has to do with as you probably get a little bit philosophical thinking of retiring fairly soon and having been through a lot of these debates and having commanded strategic command where you had to think hard about these terrible scenarios and also as you watched the rise of china and rub shah, identifily -- russia, roughly 2012, '13, '14 as things got tenser with both, do you feel like we've at least begun to reach a little more of a stable period maybe with regards to russia in particular if not yet china in the sense that nato's now beefing up its eastern flank? we don't talk about quite as much expanding nato into the ukraine and georgia even though that's long term for some, but it's not an immediate point of contention. we're not necessarily competing so much in syria anymore. and is there a case to be made that we've at least achieved some interim progress, some
partial progress with the set of policy initiatives and strategies that have been implemented at least in part? too slowly, but at least in part over the last half dozen years? >> so i think it's fair to say partial progress. i think that's fair. full progress, stability, i don't think we're there yet. but i think it's very instructive to realize that a strong nato and a stronger nato is both important for maintaining stability with russia. that is an important balance. the north atlantic treaty is one of the most important treaties, and the partners are hugely benefited by a strong defense. and i think for a few years we lost the understanding of how important nato was to that structure. and i think it was during the time where russia was no longer one of our adversaries.
in fact, if you read the 2010 nuclear posture document, it clearly says that russia is not a threat anymore. at the same time, they're modernizing their entire nuclear arsenal. and i don't think they were doing that because they needed nuclear weapons for the shesh january rebels. if you read back, president putin announced that in 2006 in public, that we're going to modernize all these capabilities. and so we've been going down that path. but during that time, we kind of took a step back having a very strong nato. now we have to look at the pacific and understand who are our partners in the pacific, and you can see partners in japan and south korea and australia and across the entire western pacific, but we need to start reaching out understand anding. and we also have to understand that china is a very different competitor than russia because of the sheer size and power of
their economy. the allies and partners that we want to develop need to be able to work with china as well because that's a very big economy in their area that they need to partner with. so it's a different construct. but the fundamentals are still the same; a very strong mill that tear defense and -- military deterrence and a reaching out through diplomatic, economic and other means in order to use the whole of government to build a better relationship with china. but it doesn't happen just by sitting aside and not talking to each other. and that's my one concern right now, we're not talking to each other a lot. i know that president biden and president xi have talked a couple of times this year, that's important, but i hope we can broaden that conversation as well. >> and so on china, before i ask you about some of the specific military modernization efforts, let me ask you if you could offer your own words on what makes you most nervous about china beyond the lack of
adequate dialogue? and specifically, is there an issue like taiwan that concerns you the most? as you know, there's sometimes been commentary that's tried the drive a wedge between the combatant commander of indo-pacific command and the chairman of the joint chiefs in talking about the imminence and curiousness of the short-term threat of the chinese to taiwan. i wonder if you want to just give us your own words on which particular type of chinese threat you would see as the most acute and just how acute is it? >> i don't think you can really talk about china in the future and ignore taiwan. i think taiwan is a part of the equation. that's been a part of the equation since, you know, since -- when president nixon first reached out to china, that's been a part of the discussion. and so you have to understand that there's going to be tension between china and the united states and taiwan and the other neighbors in that theater about what is the long-term future of
taiwan. from a military perspective, we have to be concerned about that and ready in case something should go wrong. but the specific capabilities that worry me about china are not the capabilities about the future of taiwan, it's the almost are unprecedented nuclear modernization that is now becoming public. even though, you know, i certainly watched it happen, but you couldn't talk about it. now you see hundreds and hundreds of fixed silos coming in. you can see the commercial imagery that came out in the press over the haas few months. it seems like every couple weeks new pictures of more silos are coming in. and, oh, by the way, there's no limits on what china can put in those silos. we're limited with russia, so we have to decide where we want to put those, sub if marines,
icbms -- submarines. that puts a him on what we have. china, there's no limit. they could put ten reentry vehicles on every one of those icbms if they wanted to. there's nothing to limit that ability x. so without having that discussion and you watch them build out an entire modernized triad, and then you watch them, how fast they're building these silos and building these capabilities, and then you compare it to ours with the gbsd program, the ground-based strategic deterrent program, if everything goes right, we'll have 400 new silos initial operating capability in 2030, final operational capability in 2035, it's going to take us 10-15 years to modernize the 40 models that already exist. so the speed of difference in that threat is what really concerns me most. and when you look at that
nuclear capability and you look at china's declared no first-use policy and what they have nuclear weapons for, you have to ask yourself why are they building enormous, enormous nuclear capability, faster than anybody in the world? if that's what a really concerns me. >> thank you. i want to now turn, as i've been promising for a while, to specific programs of modernization and specific programs as well. and i wanted to begin by asking you to explain sort of not at the national defense strategy level, but one level down. what are the main doctrines, concepts that are informing the way in which dod tries to priortize its modernization? of course, a lot of us think about the joint command and control, jauc -- jadc2. and that may have been one of the things that you mentioned in your answer. but i'll just say i appreciate that jadc2 in the sense that it
strike ises me as a little bit more specific than some of the ideas we heard earlier. so i want to thank you, because we used to have air-sea battle which doesn't tell you a whole lot about what's happening with the air force and the navy. you know, it's a good sounding term, but, of course, some people thought it was a little provocative, so then it was renamed the joint access for common which sort of killed it with an unmemorable phrase that most of us didn't use much. and then we started to hear multidomain operation, and that seems more like an air force/army thing. so the navy's role isn't as completely obvious, and it also seems to be all things to all people. multidomain, operation, all range and all dimensions. whereas jadc2 is focused on command and control and sensor ises and, presumably, the resiliency of the network as
well as its capacity. am i correct, is jadc2 designed to be a little bit more focused than some of its predecessor concepts? >> you're off to a very important concept, but you're only about a quarter of the concept. because it's important to realize that jacd2 is part of an overarching structure. in the fall of '19 when chairman came in and when i came in and when we looked at where we're going, we tried to figure out how to move our capabilities forward and how to get after the future that we saw. and so we had been talking about multidomain operations, and that did involve the navy. but in broader terms, it was becoming very difficult to explain what the role of the navy if was, the air force was, the army -- the main office started calling it all-domain
operations just to make sure it was all domains including maritime, space and cyber into that. but even that was, you know, not quite sufficient. so it was secretary esper at the time was looking at where we're going. we had, we had the initial joint concept that was written by the joint staff under general dun forth, the joint staff for contested operations. and he said is i want you to take that as a general war-fighting concept. so as we flipped in late 2019, early 2020 the elements of that, they were four orphans that were out there from the perspective of we really never had really taken care of those from a joint perspective and defined what they were. one of them was command and control. that became the first identifiable element of it,
jadc2. and then the four orphans became the four supporting concepts. now they're the functional battles. and it's important to look at all four of them. number one is integrated joint fires. number to two is contested logistics. number three is information advantage. and then the thing that ties it all together is the joint command and control. and it's also important to realize that joint command and control is the requirement for direct command and control. it happens to be all-domain, and there is an element that is working, that element, with the joint staff and the services to actually deliver capabilities to do that. but the requirement is joint command and control. and the requirements were an interesting dynamic too because right when i got here, i do what i always do. i pull out my orders and i read my orders before i start my job.
and i know many people in the audience have heard me say this before, i'm going to say it again, but the law is one of my orders. and it's interesting, when i actually read the law i, two things jumped out at amongst five that i carry with me at all times, six that i carry with me. we're supposed to identify, prove gaps in those capabilities. we've never really started to do that, but we're starting now. identify new military capabilities based on the fastest in technology and new concepts of information. and that's a exactly what this is. but on the 1st of july this year, we, the jroc, which is me and the vice chiefs of the services, publishes joint strategic directives, requirements for even of those four that are now mandatory compliant on all the services. they have to to be able to meet those pieces. and the reason that's so
important is because if they do that when they start delivering their platforms into this overarching structure, there's a very good opportunity to have them actually work together when they deliver them now. and i think that's why the services, after a little bit of resistance early on, came to see the merit of that early on. everything including fires the find out up front that if we can deliver it and it actually enables the service to go much faster because they don't have to ask for mother, may i, every step of the way. that's already defined when we start down the force design problems. >> that's a great answer.
[audio difficulty] >> i wonder if you worry more about lethality or more about survivability and redundancy in defense. it's like saying do you care more about offense or defense obviously obviously, you care about both. but when you look at the overall state of the force and ask where are we most in neat of improvement, is on the lethality side or on the resilience and survivability side? is. >> you'll never hear the chairman or the vice chairman define that in a public forum. but what i will say is the interesting thing about the war-fighting concept is it looks at both. and and one of the very interesting elements of how is
that we see, and i'll just summarize it at an unclassified level, a very high level. we see the need to aggregate capabilities in order to integrate our fires. and we see the need to disaggregate our capabilities in order to survive and operate. and we have to do that quickly, in all domains with all services, all at the same time in order to do that. and when we do that, it creates such a huge problem for any adversary you have on the planet that it will give us an enormous advantage is. so you actually have to balance your lethality aggregated to create the maximum effect on the battlefield with the survive is about which is -- survivability which is disaggregated in order to effectively survive. so large formations at fixed sites that don't move are not good. and you have all of the links between them. and it's not just com links and
command and control links, but it's the lo justices as -- logistics as well. and then if you're talking about the functional battle for logistics or command and control, a battle is two-sided. so it's not just protecting yourself with, but it's actually denying an adversary the ability to do the same thing. so you have to put all those pieces together. so at the unclassified level, i think i'll stop there. >> yeah, and i understand, appreciate your answer and need for a little bit of care in how you provided it. but i'm still going to ask one more thing and see if there's any more that that you can respond. my former colleague, frank rhodes, when he was at brookings, he was very concerned about things like the vulnerability of our fiber optic cable and, of course, they run under the ocean, some of their locations are well known, locations and vulnerability of
satellites which we depend upon so much for reconnaissance, and also the vulnerability of our computer systems which i think it was of a 2017 defense study said, basically, couldn't really be vouch ised for. that there were way too many commercial types of software and even in nuclear systems that potentially could be hacked. and i guess let me put it in a way that maybe makes it a little bit easier for you to talk about in an unclassified setting. is there any one of these areas that you feel has seen major progress? in the united states, are we improving whatever the vulnerability might have been and making that less glaring, less apparent and, you know, less important if we do end up fighting against a high-end threat? >> so i'll talk about some of my frustrations because i think some my frustrations will get at your concerns. we're not going down to the specific level which i really can't do in an open forum.
but when i think about my frustrations, we've been talking about the challenges we have with vulnerabilities, the advancing threats we're going to face. we realize we have a very, you know, a very small number -- and i, you know, in a speech when i was space command, and that's probably six years ago now, i said they're just a bunch of fat, juicy targets. and that's what they are. everybody knows where they are, everybody knows what goes through them, how important they are, so we've told the entire world, and we've said at the same time we recognize that so we're going to build a more resilient architecture. and i can tell you the space force has developed the concept for what this new architecture's going to be, but we have not moved down that path. so if you open up the space budget right now, you'll look
and you'll still see the same challenges that were there ten years ago. so we have to start moving quickly in order to address them. the good was is because of the investment that we've made in other capabilities in space, we have just exquisite, enormous advantages over an add very share for the foreseeable future. whether that's five years or ten years, i can't tell you. but as fast as china's going, it's probably on the lesser side. so we've got to start moving fast as we look at that. we've also identified the challenges that we have across our entire com infrastructure. and you talked about the -- piece. you know, when i was at str strat-com, i looked really, really hard at the architecture, and i became very, very confident that we could survive any threat that existed at that
time that somebody could throw at us and still be able to communicate and survive through anything which is critically important. but now i see china starting to build deferent capabilities; capabilities to deny that. and then my biggest concern in that area is actually not with today, that is with tomorrow. because a lot of those capabilities we built, we built in the '50s, '60s, '70s. copper, cable, underneath five states in america that, you know, thousands and thousands and thousands of miles of that deeply buried, nobody can get to, nobody even knows where they are half the time even if you went hunting for it. but it creates huge redundancy in our capabilities. but just like any other material, you know, item that's 50 years old, it starts falling apart, and it's going to have to be replaced. it can't be replaced with thousands of miles of copper cable. it just can't. we don't work that way anymore.
we don't work analog anymore. it's digital. it's going to go to a digital environment in 2030 and beyond which is going to be different, but it's going to attach itself to the areas you just described that have vulnerable, and as it attaches itself, that will create vulnerabilities if we're not smart about it. coming up with a different way to do that is going to be critically important. if you look at the entire enterprise, you have to build resilience; resilience in the force, resilience in the capability, resilience to survive any threat that anybody throws at you. and we have to be able to be postured to respond to that threat. that allows deterrence to hold. >> that's excellent. and you mentioned, if by the way, you mentioned budgets a minute ago. in a couple of minutes i'm going to ask you any reflections on it, but before that, could i just mention altogether in one question some of the signature technology innovations, poster
children that have been featured in the nds? hypersonic weapons, directed energy missile defense, some of the nuclear modernization programs that you were, of course, so involved in at strategic command and still today, anything else that would make your short list of how we should, you know, see our top priority weaponry. and one might if add the b-21 bomber or maybe things we're not building very fast or prioritizing like long-range, unmanned aerial vehicles flying off aircraft carriers or robotic submarines operating off mother ships, anything you would want to put on a short list and highlight either the progress or lack of progress. i'd just love to hear at least what to your mind when that kind of a question about specific programs is put before you. >> so is i'll give you two categories of programs, and i'll break it down inside it. so when i look at our current
force design, current joint force design, i see two elements that need significant improvement. number one is the ability to effectively hold any target at risk on the planet anytime, anywhere. we've had that really for the last 20 years, but now with the advent of, again, great power competition and with the advent of capabilities in china and russia, that is being put at risk. that's what hyperson -- where hypersonics come into play. because right now we can hold any target on the planet at risked today. we do. and we do that every day, and everybody knows that. that's the nuclear weapons that are deployed every day. the adversaries that we face cannot do anything about those nuclear weapons. and so that holds everything at risk. but if your only availability to hold a target at risk is a nuclear weapon, that is a really bad place to be because that runs the risk of an exploration
into a world that we don't want to risk. we were talking about secretary mattis a while ago. my first conversation with him about nuclear weapons, he's asking as he's -- unbelievably do detailed questions, and i'm giving unbelievably detailed answers about the nuclear weapons and the force structure we have and how command and control works, and finally after about an hour he just stops and says, hey, just explain to me in simple english the most fundamental thing, why do we have nuclear weapons? and my answer was one sentence. to keep people from using nuclear weapons on us. that's why. and so you don't want your only capability to be the capability that causes an escalation in nuclear conflict. that's why we need hypersonic picks. -- capabilities. i kind of fell into the trap because you pulled me into the trap this time, the real requirement is conventional --
strike. that's the real requirement, to conventionally hold targets at risk anywhere. hypersonics happen to be one of the solutions to do that, but cruise missiles can do that, other capabilities as well. we need a mix of capabilities to do that. the second category is on the defensive side. and it's not that i have concerns over our defenses working against north korea. i'm very confident with our missile defenses against north korea, but the defensive capabilities we've been building tend to be very, very cost-prohibitive on us. we need to come up with defensive capabilities that are cost-imposing on the adversaries, not cost-imposing on us. and when -- but our interceptors cost more than the weapons attacking us. that's a bad place to be. not just on missile defense, but that's across the board. that's where technology like directed energy has a huge, huge potential to change the
equation. because you have, once you build it, it's just energy. it's energy promulgated in the form of light. and if that light can be promulgated in a cost effective manner and take out targets, a ballistic missile on the way in, you can see any number of different capabilities that that changes. all of a sudden your ability to improve your defenses in a cost effective way for you are changed. the challenge of it is direct energy, and i've worked with direct energy for decades now. and i had a boss once who was a secretary who, in a briefing, said imagine a giant neon sign over my head that said in the entire history of the world, in all of the capabilities we've ever built, no direct energy system has ever worked. now start your briefing. and, you know, that's important to realize. but it's also important to realize that technology has advantages ised significantly --
advanced significantly s and is we're actually getting very close to that kind of capability. so then we have to take those technologies and integrate them into a direct concept which is the joint concept that actually requires that and the integrated fires element to effectively work. that's why you have to embed these in a concept. and the last thing i'll say is that concept is, by definition, aspirational. many things in that concept we will not be able to deliver. but as we learn and as we experiment, because we're using that concept to drive experimentation now. as we learn from the experimentation, we're going to see much better capabilities that more accurately deliver the kind of integrated joint capabilities we need in order to deal with threats in the future. so that's a little bit long, but i wanted to make sure i heard the elements you addressed. >> it's very, very good, and it sets up my last question, and i want to thank a idea audience --
thank the audience, we've got a few questions, firstname.lastname@example.org, but my next question is about the defense top line, and i'm not asking you to weigh too much into a political debate, but i can't help but remember when the national defense strategy was issued in 2018, it was pretty clearly stated by most participants in that conversation -- and then by the independent commission that reviewed the nds thereafter -- that3-5% annual real growth in the defense budget would be necessary in order to implement and achieve the vision of the nds. and, of course, we got some of that. there was sort of, you know, a mini trump buildup, if you will. but even president trump before he left office, and now president biden, have entered us into a period of more or less flat budgets. admittedly, there's been some congressional desire to increase that a bit for 2022, but overall i'm just curious as to whether
you believe that the nds absolutely requires 3-5% annual real growth, or can we achieve much of it even with a lower budget? general berger when i did an event with him in may if, he said if there was stability in the budget, that would help him even if there weren't growth. but he valued stability even more than a specific number of upward movement. i don't know if that's your philosophy or if you want to comment any other way. >> so i'll say if we continue to do business as a nation the way we've been doing business, the minimum we need ford to suck -- in order to succeed with the threats we're facing is 3-5% a year. i had a boss once kind of modernize this statement to me, and in today's day and age it would be, you know what? for $700 billion a year, we
should have a pretty darn good defense. do you think anybody, any taxpayer in this country would believe that for $700 billion a year we can't have a great defense? we should be able to. it's crazy that we can't. which means we have to start doing business differently, which means that if there are capabilities that we're operating that are no longer applicable to the site, we have to stop paying for them. we have to, we have to eject our old capabilities that no longer meet the threat and some new capabilities that may not meet the threat. i don't like the term legacy capabilities because that tends to identify old. it's really do they meet the threat or do they don't meet the threat. if they do meet the threat, we should fund them. if they don't, we need to find something that does, and we need to move forward accordingly. and then the stability, the stability in the budget will create more than 5 efficiencies every year if -- 5% efficiencies
every year, way more than 5% efficiencies. we institute billions of dollars of inefficiencies into our -- if you're a taxpayer, i think that would drive you crazy. as a taxpayer, it drives me crazy to watch the inefficiency every year. because if you think about how we -- i'll just look at it from a weapons system perspective. not the whole defense budget, just the weapons system perspective. if you think about how we buy things, we basically identify a contractor. that contractor builds a team of hundreds, thousands of people. that team is now setting a aside, and guess what? they are being paid every day whether they're doing anything or not. so come the 1st of october when they're expecting new money to come in and the new money doesn't come in because the budget's not going to be around until december, january or february, whenever it comes, but we're still going to pay for that marching army. every day we still pay for that marching army even though they're not delivering the capabilities we want them to deliver because we don't have a budget. if we could just get that
stability, if we could make hire we focused our investments on what's required for the threat only, then we can actually do it with $700 billion a year. but if we continue to do it the same way we are, we have to have bigger budgets. over. >> it's a great answer. thank you, very helpful. a question from a hill staffer is how concerned are you about the increasingly widespread perception that america's armed forces are no longer apolitical? is that a correct perception? and is it something we need to address? >> so it's an important question that i hate to question. the mere nature of the question means that somebody is viewing us as political. and i can tell you from the chairman's perspective and my perspective, we want to do everything humanly possible all the way through the force to make sure we stay apolitical. it is unbelievably difficult
now. it's -- sometimes you're afraid to come even to an event like brookings or i'll do another event later this week where i'm talking just because i'm afraid that an answer i give will come out as somehow political, and somebody will use it to drive. because it's so important, one of the greatest strengths of our country is civilian control of the military that has been defined as an element of this country since the beginning of time. and everybody i know that wears four stars, everybody i know that serves believes in civilian control of the military and does everything possible to keep out of that political realm. but we're not perfect, and and that's why we get nervous about, you know, what we might say that might come out as a sideways comment. but i can guarantee you that we believe in an apolitical military. we believe that as one of the strongest elements of our country. and we want to do everything
humanly possible to stay apolitical as we go through this. we just, we're living in a difficult time right now. but i also point out that it's not the most difficult time in my career. well, this is the most difficult time in my career probably because i was the vice chairman, but when i was younger, i grew up in alabama. i grew up in alabama in the '60s. of and there was a lot of good people in alabama, and i love the state of alabama. i'm proud to be from there. but in the '60s, oh, my gosh, the things i saw, the things i experienced, how would this country ever come together in the face of that? and we did. and i fundamentally believe that we're going to do it again, and part of the thing that will enable that is an apolitical military, and i can guarantee you one thing, when i retire, i will -- i'll stay involved in technology and military things because i think i have something to offer there. but i will, i will be quiet on the political side. you'll never see me coming down
on either side of the political spectrum. and i don't think anybody out there knows at all that what my politics are. and i'm going to do everything i can to keep it that way as long as i live. that's the way george marshall was, that's the way all my mentors were, that's why i'm going to stay that way. thank you for the question toe. >> thank you. -- question though. >> thank you. very well said and memorable answer. now a little bit more closer to home, technical question, which is about the military combatant commands and an increasingly global security environment, and is it now becoming a little bit obsolescent to have such clean geographical demarcations, in other words, should the joint staff play a greater role in synchronizing joint activities? >> it's actually one of my favorite questions because it was answered by somebody for me when i asked the same question to that somebody. and so when i was at strat-com, i asked that question to the chairman at the time, general
dunford, saying are we organized correctly for this global world that we live in right now. and he looked at me and he -- it was really instructive to me. so i won't describe the color that went with it, i'll just describe the factual elements of it. and the factual elements were wouldn't it be nice if we tried to figure out what we can do with the organization we have today and then figure out what's missing rather than do what we normally do which is try to reorganize ahead of understanding the problem. how about we try to to figure out the problem and then look at our organization and then figure out what's missing and then make adjustments a accordingly what we try to do -- and this is all the way down at the lowest level -- when you come in and you see a problem, the first answer for any bureaucracy is that's how i'll solve the problem, because i clearly, since i'm not being fullyfective, i must be organized incorrectly.
there actually may be a whole lot of fundamental problems that you don't understand. how about we try to figure out those problems and then look at the organization. that's where we are right now, and i think that's a really good place to be. so let's figure out the organization, what we have to do the, the capabilities we have to have in order to do that, how the force has to be structured in order to do that and then try to apply it to our current organization. and if it doesn't work, then adjust the organization. let's do that last instead of first. >> fantastic. i've got two last questions with apologies to those who have sent in questions that i won't be able to raise, but i think these last two are a nice way to wrap with up the conversation because one is going to ask you about the allies, how we're doing with ally cooperation. acquisition, more generally, burden-sharing and other types of activities, and the second one will allow you to come back to your frustration with slowness and explain is there any kind of structural fixes that we need to make in order to get faster in the various things that you want us to do more
rapidly. but let me pose the ally question first, and it was specifically about burden-sharing but also about joint mood earnization and sin caron nation -- modernization and synchronization. >> if you ever want a better example of why it's great to have allies and partners, just look at the last two months. you know, when we dropped in, into kabul in the middle of august, you know, less than a month ago when we dropped into kabul, less than a month when we dropped in, now it's like history. it's, like, over. they're already writing history books about it, but it was less than a month if ago when we dropped in. and then in the next ten days, two weeks, we pulled out 124,000 people. where are you going to put those people? that is a lot of people to do. and so, you know, i can't tell you how great our allies and
partners were. germany came through, spain came through, italy came through, qatar, uae, kuwait, saudi arabia. they're just spectacular, spectacular in the support they gave us. and then you look around the world at the folks that came through with capabilities to help us with the air lift that sent airplanes from all over the world in order to help us. the c-17s were going into hamid karzai international airport in kabul, the c-17s were going there, but that's where the c-17s were focused. and they were, like, every 45 minutes coming in and out all day long. it's just remarkable. but there had to be airplanes to move people around in europe and the middle east and back in the united states. we had to have craft to get 18 more planes, 18, that's a small number, and that was on top of our partners and allies.
so, holy cow, that amazing. and the last thing i'll say about allies and partners is one of the neat things about the new joint war-fighting concept is embedded in it is a new way of dealing with data and sharing of information. because right now one of our biggest impediments to integrating with partners is our ability to share information because we can't even get our closest allies access to our secret network. and it's just -- because everything is labeled secret no form. so we can't even get people on there. but in the new concept, one of the ways of dealing with data is the data will go into a crowd architecture -- >> we're going to leave the end of this discussion, take you live to the senate, part of our 40-plus-year commitment to covering congress. today lawmakers will be working on the nomination of undersecretary of education, a vote to limit debate on his
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