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tv   Defense and Natl Security Experts Discuss Natl Defense Strategy  CSPAN  May 6, 2022 10:37pm-11:40pm EDT

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[room>> please take your seats d welcome our distinguished panelists to the stage.
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>> think you will for being here, thank you to our wonderful panel. it is hard to follow on such an interesting discussion, but we have such a wealth of knowledge sitting up to talk about these issues today. first off, we have former undersecretary of defense for policy michelle flournoy. she can talk to us about the policy side, and that we have two people that need no introduction, congressman elaine luria, and, of course, the honorable mac thornberry. they can talk to us with a wealth of knowledge about the appropriations process of this. i want to start in a very tenable sense, because as we all know ukraine, russia has
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dominated the national security space and probably will continue to do. despite the fact the nbs does focus on china, i am curious what you, if you can give me your broad take away, about how you think the nbs should focus more on the russia given what is going on right now, and how you think the overall security situation in eastern europe should be impacting the mbs more if it should? >> thanks for hosting us and putting this great discussion together. i actually think that the strategy got the balance right. we have a tendency as to all countries that confront near-term crises to focus on the five nato targets, and there is a risk we could put all of our
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bed with into today's challenge and really underperform in terms of preparing for the future. what we have tried to do saying that was's invasion of ukraine is the acute challenge, we absolutely have to focus on helping ukraine be back the aggression, make sure we are as strong as possible deterring further aggression against nato, but we have to keep a good portion of our band focused on preparing for that more significant threat from a rising china in a longer-term. if you are the defense department of a global power in a country with global interest you have got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. you have to do both the near-term crisis management these and long-term preparation. that is easier said than done, and i think, i really like dr.
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hicks' framework of thinking. while i agree the middle one is the hardest one to get right into convince congress of, i personally believe even on the china side, deterring china against taiwan there is a near-term deterrence challenge we need to be focusing more of our attention on. how do we take the capabilities of what we have, combined the midways with new operational concepts to meaningfully strength deterring -- deterrence within the next year's. >> do you think the uss five to seven years -- us has 5 to 7 years. >> right now present she is dealing with a covered crisis that is not getting better. slow growth is always frightening when it comes to the chinese communist party had to
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guess the 20th party congress coming up work he is going to want to focus on stability and consolidating his power. i also think he wants to pursue an economic and medical coercion strategy. nor do i think his military forces ready. i do think that f after five years of trying the absorption into the borg strategy, we could be facing a situation where, this is a legacy issue, i want to take care of this on my watch, i am going to reach for this because it will get harder for me in the future as the u.s. faces more capability. we have got to be focused on that, not just china as a long-term challenge, but china in the near midterm as well. >> that exact argument you just
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made about a legacy issue, there are a lot of people think that is one of the reasons vladimir putin is in ukraine right now. congressman, i asked the same question to you. i wonder what your overall perspective is on this of whether there is enough focus in the current nbs, budget on russia and ukraine given the focus on china? >> i think we have to be laser focused on china and their increased aggression on taiwan and this time frame between now and 2027. i think there are significant gaps in this year's budget to adequately it grass -- address that. where are we different now that
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we were -- than we were a few months ago. we had a very different impression of russia and its capabilities prior to their recent ovation in ukraine. we have a whole host of nato or soon-to-be nato allies stepping up. what the last administration tried to do was to get nato to contribute more. we have an opportunity where if you want to leverage our allies and partners and europeans are stepping up to provide more and we have significant forces there, longer range i do not think it is a question of allocating more resources to her because we have more players willing to do more along with us. if we want to leverage allies and partners, we have an opportunity to allow partners in europe to take more of that burden and for us to provide more of our focus and resources
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to the very urgent situation in the timeframe between now and 2027. >> some of your colleagues have talked about concerns of readiness. [indiscernible] looking at that, do you think that there is enough built-in to maintain u.s. readiness or are you concerned about stockpiles? >> it is something we are going to look at closely as we transfer military equipment that we have adequate replenishment of those. if we can get more specific, the navy, where i focus my attention, i have concerns with proposed reconditioning and the long-term capacity gap that creates. the navy quantified that. if you look at the next seven year period we will lose up to
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1600 through the decommissioning of the maintaining cruisers and the slow procurement of new platforms. there is capacity there. why are we only building two destroyers a year? there are very unclear signals being sent to the industrial base between what is in the budget and what they are saying what they want there is a host of things. it is not only the platforms, it is the conditions and all of that combined together. we need to be laser focused for the during -- the deterrent. i do not think we are building a new voice without -- force for that. whether being creative and investing in readiness and maintaining those platforms that we have now that we can continue to use during that window.
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we are saying it is obsolete, we need to move on to new concepts. ai, quantum computing, it certainly does are part of the mix of the future but we have to focus on the near-term, and when we look at the budget, myself and others say this is divesting too much in today's environment. >> we also heard from secretary hicks about deterrence as one of the objectives of the u.s. >> my strategy versus the previous administration, what we need is deterrence by --, and you have to have the force to do that. integrated deterrence is deterrence by punishment strategy. if you do not have the forces there, that the authorities in place, that can be under the policies of strategic ambiguity
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and whether we need to change your posture relative to that, but i do not feel like the ship to integrated deterrence is creating a force that can actually accomplish deterrence by denial strategy. >> i would like you to pick up on that. now that you are looking at this from a step back and, hopefully you have more time now that you are not on the house armed services committee? what do you think? whether they have the right mix whether it is specific to russia and china and we should talk about north korea, iran? is there anything you looking at right now, do you worry about the readiness of the u.s. military and how the money is being appropriate in this budget? >> i am struck by how we are
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having some of the same debates we have been having for a while. back when president obama want to prevent 20 asia, the concern was if it means you are turning away from someone, in that case the middle east and terrorism, to focus on this one thing. at the united states does not have the luxury of focusing in just one area or one adversary, and boudin -- putin's invasion of ukraine is a slap in the face , a reminder that there are other threats in the world that we have to pay attention to. i am struck by continuity in this national defense strategy from the last one, but it is words onto the paper. the question is, ok, what changes are you really going to make that would make that become a reality?
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that is where you get into a 4% increase that does not keep up with inflation, it is not enough to implement that strategy given the world that we all see clearly now. and so then you start getting tensions, and that is where readiness becomes the easiest and quickest thing to god. we saw that in the latter stage in the obama administration to where we had accident rates going up. in one point of the trump administration north korea poses a threat and we had to move munitions to the pay, area and middle east commander start getting worried that they are sort. i agree it is not all about top line in numbers, but it does begin the conversation of what capability you have, and how
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much of what in that budget. frankly i was kind of encouraged to hear her say, we will take this plan, we will add whatever inflation is, which is going to be pretty high and maybe not lose capabilities like these ships they want to get rid of prematurely and build from there. that is probably an approach that does begin to implement the words that are in this paper. >> arthur capability gaps -- are there capability gaps internet that if you concerned? >> i have a slightly different view -- i actually do think, and we had from secretary hicks, the usa's the objective of being able to deny chinese aggression
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success against someone, but we have to be careful about the metrics. it is not numbers of traditional platforms. this will be a different environment, they have a huge geographic advantage. they will try to take over very quickly before u.s. forces can amass and it will be a highly contested environment, ships and planes that go in early will be very vulnerable. deterrence done by denial requires different concepts of operations. my favorite example came out of an iran study which is taking long ship missiles, putting them on standoff air source -- air force platforms. [indiscernible] i am just saying, we have to
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have an operational concept in mind before we start making judgments about to be have enough destroyers, do we not have enough? the other thing is, what i do think across the board, we have munitions shortfalls. in terms of what the ukraine situation is created in our own arsenal, but this is a top concern of the commander. i think we have got to focus year. last comment is for security systems, big lesson from ukraine is that after crimea, the u.s., canadians, the u.k., other nato members spent a huge amount of time training and working with ukrainians. let's become indigestible to the russian bear, not my phrase.
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we do similar work in the baltics. the same situation needs to up in taiwan. how do you create a sense of depth given asymmetric capabilities to create more cost, to buy time for the international community? >> you had a perfect scene setter. it is an investment we should make. at arguing last year, how many are in this budget? it was not a piece of data at their fingertips, it was not something high on the radar for their contribution. i asked the same question about defensive mine laying, a huge asset to help create this porcupine both for us to have the capabilities as well for taiwan to invest in those capabilities for their own defense. you also set the scene perfectly about different standoff ranges.
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we have not invested insignificant capabilities. we are still relying on harpoons being developed in the 1970's. there have been improvements in that missile and we have other capabilities, and we are at a disadvantage, which prevents us from being within the chinese missile range at certain phases of a conflict. i also think there are other capabilities that we do not necessarily think about. the navy is bad about building small. the chinese have small, heavily armored vessels with longer-range missiles. we need to think about a mix both for dispersion, the marine corps plans to develop a concept. i do not feel like the budgets we get all of the work that we
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are, because the law, the vessel that is going to carry the marine core, navy strike missiles. as part of that concept or law -- for law it is to read again two years. this is a relatively inexpensive investment, and not complex vessel that would facilitate dispersion in order to augment. why is it pushed two more years down the road? the anti-surface capability is a big concern that i have. >> is that something you have communicated to the military? >> i think it is a combination of, we can get started. we have capability and we can invest more, it can be used more in their operational plans.
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we cannot continue to wait for the perfect solution. you have to have the platforms in order to deliver these. capabilities that we may be able to develop in 20 years, but we do not have the luxury of waiting for them, so we have to be creative with the platforms that we have. there are potential capabilities to carry launchers. we are going to divest, they want to decommission 9 lts. even if it is a question of moving parts is around because lcs could perform missions and other theaters that could free up destroyers. we have got to get to what you wrote, and 72 hours we may need to target all of their
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antisurface capabilities. that is the goal for deterrence. i do not know if you have shifted that vision. >> on the issue of deterrence, secretary hicks talked about how the u.s. has been investing so much since 2013, but there are some people saying they have training ukrainians and providing them with weapons, russia still invaded did deterrence work here? i'm curious what you think about it and if you think there is some with u.s. can shift deterrence to actually maybe deter china from innovation of taiwan? >> is always possible for bad guys to do bad things, and you want to discourage it. you will not always be successful, which is what you need a military to win conflict
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in case deterrence should fail. you could argue putin was looking not only at how many ships and tanks and planes we had comic he was looking at a variety of factors and thought maybe this is a time when we can get away with it. deterrence is in the mind of the adversary, and as to be edible, not only what you have, but it can be used. to go back to my theme for just a second, it may be simplistic to look at top line defense budgets but it is a clear signal to putin and xi of mr. thornberry how many times secretary hicks
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mentioned it. i think ukraine views the debate. the harder question when it comes to deterrence as now we not only have russia, but we have of china at that is dramatically increasing their nuclear capability. as our capability credible in that three-way situation? or not? my personal opinion is we have not thought enough about that. i think when it comes to us in china, conventional is important, but also some of these newer capabilities that we are behind in, hypersonic's and satellite weapons. they had more data than anybody. getting those nontraditional different suppliers on the
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playing field is essential. just to go back to michelle's point. developing this capability does not count for much unless you have the operational concepts to use them. and that was a key finding of the strategy commission in 2018 and it is still an area where i am not sure we are quite up to snuff. we can develop it, but what are we going to do with it? >> when you look at a china-taiwan scenario, i think we need to have a significant debate in congress about authority. if you have indications they are going to cross the street, we can want to intervene, but what authorities exist to do back?
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we cannot just introduce forces where hostilities are likely without coming to congress. our strategic ambiguity is obviously ambiguous. i think we should have strategic clarity. i think we should say we will come to the defense of taiwan. i think those debates are not being had in congress because i think -- and i think the president is going to need decision time, essentially. if you are going to wait to come to congress, i feel like a time is not to be having those debates. i think if we have strategic clarity, then everything would fall in behind that because there would be no question that it would be our national policy that we would come to the defense of taiwan. if we wait to have that debate until forces are moving, i think
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the delay will lead to eight feet a complete. >> it opens up the issue of strategic simultaneous. if they were to speed that up, where the u.s. is right now in the huge investment in ukraine, do you think if china were to attack taiwan today, would the u.s. be able to come to the defense of taiwan? is that u.s. ready for that right now? >> not the way we need to be. i think the u.s. would come to taiwan's defense if the question were unprovoked. -- if the aggression were
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unprovoked. if we just confront this with what we have, the results are suboptimal. i think there is a lot that needs to be done. i do not want to say that we could not deter, but it would not be by design. i just want to say that part of this equation of rapidly fielding new capabilities is building on creating a highway for commercial technologies to be more rapidly integrated into the force. there are ai tools today that
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can give us a huge advantage. they need to be up and down the entire chain of command. we should be leveraging those. because if you have more accurate decision, that is a huge advantage. there are things we can do to build our resilience on the cyber side. we need to create that fast track. we have not done that at scale yet. this is a critical part of regaining capacity and mouse --
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en masse. there is a lot we can do in that regard as well. it should be a key element. >> do you think that right now is the pentagon being aggressive enough? >> i think they are starting to lean forward on this. i would like to see them lean forward even more. we need to be able to bring along congress, particularly appropriators, who tend to be conservative. we are in a catch-22, where somebody like the navy will come and say we would like to buy a few unmanned surface vehicles so that we can experiment. and the congress comes back and says no, you clearly do not know what you want to do with these things. you can have one.
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and the navy says i need more than one. they say come back to us when you know what you want to do. you are in the catch-22 because of risk aversion. this is the time when we have to lean forward a little bit and accept the little bit of risk that we might have some failures in the development process that we learn from and then we get to a better answer. >> what do you think about that as somebody who has the purse string? >> we did it differently on the house side than on the senate side. we really focused on what are the things that are needed for the pacific?
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the navy only requested one destroyer last year. we have two ship yards that we have to keep operational. we were focused on the china scenario. i think there has been questions about, before you the unmanned surface vessels. what are you going to put in it? you can use the concept, but it does not actually have to be unmanned and it can be done at a low cost. the cost of building eight is the cost of building one of the other. i think there is a balance between their being able to explain what they want the
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platforms for. there is a history of failed ship building programs that we have lived through. i think that there is both a history of it and the lack of clarity of what are you going to do with this? on the technical engineering side, it is doubtful that you can have an unmanned surface vessels at that range. how are we going to get to unmanned? >> one thing we have not touched on his left part from north korea and iran. the japanese defense minister talked about the threat from north korea being imminent. it is not a word we hear often. do you think it is appropriate
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and what do you think of the budget? >> short answer on that is no. it is a dynamic situation, so if north korea thinks we are distracted by ukraine, then the logical thing is, this is our chance to get away with something. then iran is the same. ok, they are pulling out of the middle east now is the time to push our allies in yemen to do more against saudi arabia and others there. so you will have aggressors always looking to take advantage of opportunities and i think that is what you are seeing right now.
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what do you do about it? you have to keep your eye on the main thing. for us, the most consequential part is china. but you also have to have the ability to deter other kinds of aggression, whether it be in europe, asia, or the middle east. does a 4% increase that does not keep up with inflation really meet that standard when it comes to implementing -- and i do not think it does. if i can chime in on what they were saying. i do think that there has to be a partnership between the administration and congress and their cultural issues in both the pentagon and congress. and being able to move at the speed that events require.
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if north korea decides they are going to do something, we have to be able to move appropriately at that speed and a bunch of process that takes two years does not cut it. you cannot treat everything the same. a pool of money for ai applications, for example. more of a portfolio approach for these fast-moving technologies does help, i think. when it comes to some of these threats, especially from china, that sort of flexibility of funding would help augment what congress has done as far as the acquisition.
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they are in place, but you have to deal with the culture and the money to get something out of it. >> is there something else in ai that you think there could be a pool of funding applied? >> another thing about resources and how they are allocated. if you look at removing some of that burden from the navy ship budget, we have to keep it on track. the authorizer's are always willing to do it but the appropriators never appropriate any funds to that. >> a broader category of bridge funding for innovation adoption. what you have as many new
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innovative technologies being demonstrated or piloted. went 18 or 24 months and we will get you in the program in 24 months. it is a death sentence. we need to have a pool of money that says we are going to continue to develop that capability and get it ready for full-scale production. bridging funds are key for a whole range of ready and emerging technology. one more thing. every time we have a crisis we make progress in making the system be more responsive and rapid. when the crisis is over, we revert back to be in slow and
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bureaucratic. there have been amazing innovation in the declassification of sharing intelligence that we should not lose going forward. there have been huge innovations in getting things released and moved into the hands of ukraine that we should not lose going forward. i think part of what we need to do is hold on to do is hold onto some of those innovations and some of that progress when the crisis is over. >> i want to open up to the audience. before i do, i want to ask you. secretary hicks spoke about investing in people. do you think the current budget does enough of that? >> this is sort of a personal thing back home. we have had some tragic losses on the george washington, for
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example. i think it is a time, talking about investing in a number of people. i think investing in people especially junior enlisted, i think that really highlights investments we need to make in people and quality of life. how we assign our most junior sailors. it is multifaceted. i think the navy will come up with some recommendations that will guide us. for my own observation visiting the ship, i can say there are investments that are necessary
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to the future health of our sailors. >> are there any recommendations you are aware of that the navy will make? >> i cannot speak for the navy. i think we need to invest in things. we have to have the sailors to operate the equipment and to fight the fight. things like barracks and parking. it sounds very simplistic. but people are taken extra hours to travel to and from work. and living in an industrial environment. i think we need to look across all levels of government to make sure that we can invest in those things.
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>> i think all of the services are in a 20th century approach. the vast majority about the source come out of the academies or rotc programs are scholarship graduates. once you are in a coma like you are going to be placed wherever. there are few people actually using their engineering backgrounds. we are not actually leveraging talent because we have not created career paths that rewards and promotes. i think better investing in,
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development, allocating what talent we have as part of the solution. as well as attracting additional quality talent from outside. >> in the process of design, procurement, acquisition, we have lost that expertise within the military in uniform. if it is marine engineers, naval engineers, all of that capacity to provide that oversight so we do not go down the path of not having enough oversight. i think a combination of that with the needs of the services themselves to use that talent to a better effect is important. >> i would just add recruiting
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and retention has been changing over time. covid accelerated some of those changes. but one of the factors we are still playing catch up on is the family dynamics. to retain you really have to consider the whole family needs and we are not. >> i would also say this is a place where there have been some critics who said the department is thinking too much about diversity and inclusion. but diversity and inclusion increases your recruitment pool. we need to look at all across the united states, get the best and brightest from every geography, every type of background, every race, gender, etc.. to bring those people in to serve their country.
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if you open that, you are dramatically improving your talent pool and your chances of recruiting the best. it is not aside issue. it is core to dealing with some of the recruiting and retention issues that the department struggles with. >> i want to take a few questions from the audience. >> thank you. thank you so much for the great conversation. i want to take it back to taiwan. there was an interesting poll that came out in march that found that more taiwanese believe that japan would come to the defense of taiwan than believe the united states would come to the defense of taiwan. shockingly still this poll was conducted only a few weeks after the president sent a bipartisan delegation to visit taiwan.
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i wanted to ask all of the panelists if the taiwanese believe that japan is more likely to come to the defense of taiwan, should we assume that same thought is being held by ccp leadership? does this failure reflect an inability to communicate willingness or an inability to demonstrate that we have the capability to come to taiwan's defense? how do we rectify? is it either-or or a combination of both? >> i think strategic ambiguity does create ambiguity. however, there are challenges associated with abandoning that policy.
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diminishing the space that other partners in the region can use to be helpful to taiwan without having to be forced to choose sides. i think we can do a better job of clarifying our commitment and our resolve. both i will enlist to defend taiwan under certain circumstances -- both our willingness to defend taiwan under certain circumstances. but most importantly, we can be clear in our actions in terms of the extent we are helping them. the extent to which we are enforcing international law. the extent to which we are investing in the right capabilities and showing up
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diplomatically and so forth. the biggest problem we have with the deterrence with china is that china has created a narrative of the united states inevitable decline. they have underestimated us. we have to demonstrate to them that it is a miscalculation. a cautionary tale if putin does not succeed, that is a cautionary tale for the chinese president. he is at very serious risk of under estimating how we respond to unprovoked aggression. >> be careful what you say and
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follow up and really do what you say. that adds credibility. we are still in a rebuilding credibility mode across the world right now. i am not surprised by those numbers partly because the shift that is happening with think japan is significant. we should not take lightly the shift that is occurring in japan. we have allies that are taken significant steps to step up and be a more significant contributor to pushing back against aggression and that is a good thing. >> thank you.
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you mentioned security assistance. we know foreign military self is a key element. it is easier to arm allies and partners before the invasion than after. maybe we should spend more time on that. there is a $14 billion backlog of arms sales to taiwan.
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i am wondering the congressman is looking at legislation. what can we provide in terms of interim capabilities while they are waiting for that? what can we do about training? and what can we do to expedite full operational capability? >> i am very interested in the training piece. >> i will say the system is slow and in need of reform. i would like to see more of a fast track established, not just
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once the crisis happens, but before. i would love to see that happen and maybe it has to be a presidential level designation. i went through this in the obama administration where we had to bump people in the queue. i think that is absolutely essential. my understanding is there is an interagency task force focused on the taiwan problem. some of them are affected by industrial base, just. others are placed in the queue. i think there was a concerted effort to do exactly what you are saying with regard to taiwan. the other thing that holds us up
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is technology release. rather than go through the whole process and at the very end ask the question can we release this technology to this and like. -- base -- this ally. we are going to release this technology to the following partners. i think there are some reforms in process that could be undertaken that could meaningfully improve the performance of the process. >> i would also come up the part where you addressed training ahead of time. i think joint operational plans
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with taiwan needs more focus and attention. that can also be in conjunction of acquisition of new weapons systems and bringing those online. i think more broadly we need to look at that. if the ball drops tomorrow, we have not trained directly with the taiwanese. it is not like other complex that we have been prepared -- other conflicts that we have been prepared for. that also includes investments and time. >> i would just add, we still do not move at the speed the world moves when it comes to security systems. what about the rest of the places we want to make more difficult for aggressors too?
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if there needs to be a broader change. we have amazing new tools now for training and simulation that are incredibly realistic and do not require having all the ships out the burning diesel or whatever. we need to take advantage of those. our partners around the world can benefit from these capabilities and elevate their game. >> two facts have changed on the ground here in washington. how does it change the way you think about how we are going to fund our national defense. >> but your marks returned. -- the earmarks have returned.
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the process does not have any effect on the defense spending. >> on the budget control act, thank god it is gone. and now we can look at how dangerous our world this and have a budget that matches. we have the opportunity now. we had to use workarounds before and now you can be more transparent. i think that us very good. >> the real problem we have now is [no audio] >> we heard secretary hicks talk
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about the department being able to send consistent signals to the market on where to invest, where to put your rmd. --r&d. investors and companies do not think they can put the money in something that will feel maturation five years from now because there is too much uncertainty. that is something we have to go after. it is extremely difficult in the polarized political atmosphere we are in. >> and those signals do not just go to the market. they also go to putin and others. >> thank you to our wonderful
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panelists for a fascinating discussion.
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