tv Hudson Institute Discussion on U.S. Military Superiority CSPAN October 30, 2020 5:24pm-6:13pm EDT
>> i think cybersecurity experts are less concerned about the threat to vote counting that they have been in years past and that's a really good thing. that's because of an increase of paper records that increased coordination among the state and federal government. there's a lot of reasons to feel good that the security of this election will be better. representative jim banks a republican from indiana and democratic congressman seth moulton talk about a congressional report on the future the defense task force. hosted by the hudson institute, this is 45 minutes. >> welcome to the hudson is today. i'm brian clark a senior at the
hudson institute. with me today is an adjunct fellow at the hudson institute and with the center. ear hear to welcome the co-chairs of the future defense task force from the house congressman seth moulton from massachusetts and congressman jim banks from indiana. congressman moulton has been in congress since 2014. he is a marine veteran and served several tours in iraq and afghanistan i believe and also has been focused on the budget and strategic forces subcommittee. congressman banks has been in congress since 2017 and represents indiana's third district where he is on the education and labor committee and serves on the veterans affairs committee as well. he is a navy reservist so a fellow sailor like itself and continues to serve even today. congressman banks congressman
moulton thanks for being with us today. >> it's great to be with you. >> it's an honor to be here and just for the record i was only in iraq and not afghanistan. >> i was afraid i was going to mess that up so thank you for correcting that. the test scores released a report about a year-long study on what the defense needs of the united states going forward. it comes at a pivotal time. we have a challenging strategic environment right now between the pandemic schools constraints arising china and the emergence of new technology that could be potential opportunities for us to improve our ability to protect u.s. interests going forward. dan and i both found you did a great job of that strategic environment and the opportunities available to us than the recommendations both to address new concepts as well as new technologies and how the
defense department and military employee does. what do you find were the most important findings of the report that the one people to take away from congressman moulton? >> in many ways that findings are not entirely revolutionary. we recognize that china presents the biggest security challenge looking ahead for the next 30 to 50 years and we recognize the need for innovative new technologies i'd biotec other things that people have reported are important for national security. what's are marketable about this report is it doesn't just say we are at risk of losing this race to china or that we are starting to fall behind. it says we are behind and we will lose if we don't make dramatic changes to the department of defense in terms of art prayer decision of resources how we invest in new
technology and necessarily how we get rid of some of the old technologies to make room for these new investments. >> i couldn't agree more. there's nothing here that is necessarily groundbreaking but the report serves as a wake-up call not just to congress that the administration and the american people that now more than ever we have to change the attitude especially at the pentagon, and attitude that is geared more toward welcoming innovation and partnering better with the private sector to develop the innovation we need to compete with their adversaries now and in the future. there are four takeaways from a report that i would focus on. first we need an artificial intelligence revolution and we impact how we can change the mindset that the pentagon to do that. secondly we have to do a better job of protecting our critical technologies and again we lay out a number of recommendations
on how we do that as well. the third take away for me from the report was that we have got to do a better job of pardoning with silicon valley and our university partnerships throughout the country. as part of this task force we traveled a silicon valley and we have heard stories from a number of innovators entrepreneurs and investors from the silicon valley defense working group about the challenges they face in working with the pentagon and we have to do a better job of developing our workforce by developing stem skills within the workforce. we have unique ideas on ways that they can do that. the report as for senate republicans brought up his and entirely bipartisan effort. many people are surprised when we say that there were few contentious issues as we dug into this report because we met
on a weekly basis as we traveled the world. all eight of us recognize the severity of the situation where we stand today and how far we lag behind and we have to do something about it. the report serves as a wake-up call to do that. >> congressman, both congressmen u-boats identified china as a competitor so a major power that we are competing with and protecting our critical technologies developing workforces and it could be a potentially challenging effort and in a budget that's going to be more constrained. is it affordable or do we need to allocate more resources toward resources? >> it has to be affordable because our country depends on it. the reality of the budgetary authority as there is not going to be as much money to spend on
defense no matter how you look at it especially coming out of the pandemic by the recommendation is a lot of these new technologies are less expensive than the dig systems that we need to get rid of to make room for them. the challenge of course is the last part of that statement giving rig -- rid of the big old legacy system. those president eisenhower and senator mccain said that when they talked about the military-industrial complex and the military industrial complex that likes to keep these job producing systems around. whatever american and every member of congress needs to understand is our security is on the line if we don't make changes so we can make room. >> i really believe what we have learned from this password effort -- task force effort technologies can allow us to do
more at the pentagon. next year no matter who wins the election on tuesday and who is in control they we will have a debate over defense spending but really are task force report paves the way for either administration for either party to find ways to change the mindset at the pentagon. we found the authorizations are to exist that congress has granted the pentagon to spur innovation and take advantage of innovation that's occurring in places like silicon valley and elsewhere but secondly these emerging technologies are going to pave the way perhaps to replace antiquated systems. >> that brings up a great point
and this is something that dan and i have done research on and terms of redistributing large platforms towards distributed smaller platforms. >> if you think about retiring these platforms and retiring these information age technology ai and a smaller system how do you think we have to grapple with the mindset in the department from thinking about capability in terms of a large cloud form to the operational concept in your report. >> one of the things he stresses the pentagon has not been forward thinking enough and aggressive enough in implementing a new operational concepts and ultimately should choose technologies that fit these concepts. actually we have been working backwards. we have these big lanky systems that were trying to use in a new environment and that's the wrong
way to think about this. we need to much more aggressively develop operational concepts for the 21st century warfare and then test new technologies against those operational concepts and that's what should ultimately gaidar decision-making. >> if every member of congress took it the advantage of the briefings are received as part of this task force effort this would be easy. all of our colleagues saw some classified briefings on what the future for looks like especially a china threat. if we get on board with the findings of this report for autonomy at the sea in the air and under the sea. this would be an easy endeavor and unfortunately most of our colleagues will never see those reports. many of our colleagues on the
armed services committee have not received those briefings so this is about a new attitude and that's why talk about this report as a wake-up call. this is a new attitude that needs to be a wake-up call for the highest levels of leadership in the pentagon. >> , i'm a conservative republican and this current president expenses ash carter since i've had someone in the highest level the pentagon has been shaking it up and developing programs like at works and we have the pleasure of visiting an air force unit that's involved in coding in his hometown in his home state of massachusetts. it's that mindset we have to have in place in each of the branches of the pentagon and in congress to work together to spur the innovation that we
need. >> not every member of congress is privy to the information that we are able to see and certainly not the traveling we were able to do around the globe. you know we can't discuss classified information but in general when you go into these highly classified readings one of two things happen. even as she did come up confident that there's a problem and you fret about it in the news and sometimes you come out thinking oh wow this is a more dire situation than people realize. i don't know about you jim but i felt the majority of the briefings we received made me come out and say wow this is incredibly important that we are doing this work because the situation is urgent and we need to make rapid changes.
>> the idea of bringing technology to work written to the defense department. talking about autonomy systems hypersonic weapons and bioengineering. in that technology portfolio which ones did you think were the most important that we need to start harvesting for defense purposes and which ones do you find in your work with the commercial industry might be the best opportunities for us to partner with industries because some programs like hypersonic weapons will not be available. both in terms of priority and opportunity with commercial innovation. >> and no one recommendation is the manhattan project effort to make sure we focus on ai. it's probably obvious to many people in the defense world but again everybody in american public and all of our colleagues in congress what surprised me
was the impact on national security's future of biotech. it's not where you think i'm going to go. it's not traditional bioweapons or whatnot. it's the ability of web technologies to eventually manufacture things including nanosized weapons systems and is predicted to be a binary result. either we will win the biotech race or china will and we wanted in even beat competitors. it's essential for the future of our national security as well as our economic security that we win this race and we are devoting the resources to it that china's right now. what do you think jim were some of your surprises? >> as seth said the race to ai is a race we are losing and to win on that front is one of the first recommendations in a report is to require every
defense at least one ai or autonomous alternative prior to funding. it might be the most significant recommendation and the entire report and the reason we focus on acquisitions processes because it's the only place in the structure of our national security apparatus where we can actually force this revolution to to occur coming from our and that the government in congress to force a new mindset and an acquisitions process keeping in mind we are at a provided a number of authorizations for the pentagon to do this. they were largely ignored and we need to force the acquisitions process to spread. as far as other technology silicon valley was exposed to new innovations and cloud computing which gives us an incredible ability to speed up
advancing ourselves within the ai arena as well so that's an area where we can do a better job at leveraging and partnering with the commercial sector. >> you brought up the manhattan project and i thought that was interesting. you talk about incorporating ai into more acquisition programs via the acquisition programs to incorporate an autonomous alternative. that argues for the fact that technology is driving into the acquisition program. ai is with us. it's not something in the future on the horizon. it's already here and the question is how do we adapt it into defense application? given that it seems like the manhattan project where we are trying to generate something new is not the right model. the model may be something more
like a broader effort to ensure that you get ai incorporated into more programs. i don't know if you focus on r&d or adaptation. >> i think it's a great analogy actually. they just knew they needed to figure out a way to beat the germans to using it operationally. i think we are very much aware of where we are and we recognize like the manhattan project a lot of this research and development is not just an existing dod program. the first trials were at the university of chicago emphasizing the importance of academic as a whole nation approached her national security. if we were simply to take existing ai technology and you are right there is a lot out there already ended the two current defense uses that would be going backwards. what we need to do is develop
the operational content and then make sure we have the technology or we are developing the technology to meet the needs of those operational context. so it's also important to think about the legacy of the manhattan project. this is appointed ash carter often makes all those scientists who worked on this incredible but also incredibly awful technology devoted their lives to ensuring it wouldn't be used, to ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear technology. we have to lead the world on developing a the robo-calls governing the use of ai. we have rarely scratched the surface of that but let me tell you we do not want the authoritarian regime of china setting the rules of the road for the use of ai. i think that's a very important conclusion to this report and analogies with another game-changing technology.
i like the idea of the uppers for concepts and how they tie together with the new technology. technology is not necessarily -- it's how you deploy it operationally is where the value comes in. how do you think dod is doing in that effort of merging new operational contents with new technology like ai? it seems like we have got a lot of offices at the pentagon but a lot fewer that are looking at use alongside with the technology. seen at the bottom line of the report is the pentagon is doing very poorly in making this a top priority. i have spent years and sadly we have heard the pentagon identify ai is a priority and the focus and that's the type of
leadership that we are begging for the report calls for. we are focused on that and so far we haven't seen it. >> tim rod up castle rock and it's a great example. whether they are attracting top talent which is another thing that dod needs to do better and putting these young smart kids to work solving a lot of i.t. problems and another high-tech issue. one of the projects we have been working on was the supply system which has been very problematic for people on the other side. what they have developed is brilliant, it's simple, it's an expensive and we have developed a much more quickly than the prime defense contractors who continually failed to improve the system. our first question was making
sure the other services beyond the air force get the system and i'm a marine veteran. why does the marine corps are not yet have its own version of castle run? the pentagon is thinking about canceling castle run so it's a long way to go and jim is right a lot of it is not just a few new technologies here or there it's a fundamental change of a mindset in a different attitude that we needed the pentagon. >> band you want to weigh in on this? is something we have talked about before. >> absolutely. when we talk about one of your recommendations you mentioned talking about the major defense acquisition program. i struggle with how we inject new concepts there. often major defense acquisition programs have parameters.
what can the government and department do better to develop new concepts? that's not exploratory. developing new concepts is really exploratory. what's the right activism to think about that to think about budgeting for that capturing learning and being more adaptable and how do we think about those things which is an exploration is not a specific requirement. >> it's a really good point. as bars the first recommendation that i read a little bit of requiring an ai alternative to every program that's just the start. the pentagon is not already doing that which they have operations to do so we have to force them to do it but additionally we need to, to your point and i recall the very first hearing we had on this
task force senator jim talent in michele flournoy testified of creating an environment at the pentagon that is far less risk of death than they are now. why does the pentagon takes far too few risks in their investments in new technologies and emerging technologies and innovation? it's because congress beats up on them every time they do and they fail. it's our job on our and of the capital to prop them up to fail more, to fail fast as senator tell us booted and others as well and granting more so they can invest more and take those risks and a reporter after the first recommendation helps us get there.
i would comment on what the marine corps is doing right now going back to square one in fundamentally questioning the operational contents that is driven marine corps acquisitions for the last decade. i'm not yet convinced that all of his theories are correct but you are doing exactly what would you do in terms of question these assumptions. the way he is approaching it is he's developing the operational concepts first and how the marine corps should be employed and will be employed in the 21st century making sure it's integrated with the other services of horse but then saying okay what acquisitions do we need to make to support it and by the way also what investments do we have to make as well? i know the commandant is encountering some resistance.
we are not quite sure the end result yet that there are people inside the marine corps and inside the pentagon as well who are questioning some of these changes. change is hard. we need to change and that's exactly how we should do it. >> i'm glad you brought that up. we are involved in that as well having worked on the future course structure and working with the marine corps on the force design. you brought this challenge of before about the systems. one way to make those determinations is by building our personal concepts that would movie away from them. what are some of the criteria that we should be establishing to evaluate the platforms to see a push to keep them around. aside from maybe there utility and new operational concept are there factors we should be considering or is it indicative of something that should be left to the wayside and as we
determine how to argue for the best new systems that are clearly outliving their usefulness or have caused structures that are unsustainable? >> let me begin by saying if you leave this discussion in this decision that the congress it will never happen. from eisenhower talking about the defense industrial complex to the defense industrial congressional complex of the parochial interest we deal with. section 4 in the report makes recommendations to empower gao and others to provide us with recommendations on what legacy systems have outlived their usefulness and where we can cut to make the emerging technologies that we need. >> one part of the criteria will have to be cost and that the budgetary environment we are
facing. it's unique to her conversation i'm always going to spend more and as a security and supporting our troops or whatever but the reality is like every country in the world we have finite resources and what is most important is that we make the tough decisions to use those resources as wisely as we can to support her troops and national security. that's going to be tough and exactly why we recommended to congress to not do it ourselves. i'm sorry we don't have more confidence in ourselves as a congressional body. we are going to have to take a hard look at this and now some real tough questions. let's not forget as we cut legacy systems and with that go jobs may be installations and certain companies or whatever we are also going to be investing a lot more new technologies that will move our country forward and will have them tax on
national security. this should be exciting for every american. >> this is where the bipartisan nature of the task force comes into play. this is the most controversial part of the report but for republicans and four democrats rarely agree without any debate about this session for the task force recommendations. we have called on the brand corporation to get involved in this process and we laid out the parameters of what these reports might begin to to evaluate legacy systems to call for the elimination of programs. the report goes through a lot of thought into this conversation and at the outset when we started this endeavor this was the many of our friends in the industry were most to worry about the task force in naming
names or calling out program specifically and from the very beginning we knew that was not our job and our job is to. a framework and how we can do this in the most substandard and productive way. >> the other subcommittee didn't want their programs or systems to be taken away. it's an all but significant point which is that the most controversial recommendation the one that's going to get the most contribution to congress itself is also one where there was no debate as jim said. four democrats and four republicans recognize without question we need to make some really tough questions. do you know what? gemini represent defense interest in art district and said while the other six members of the committee. some of this might be painful to us personally. it's the right thing to do for our country.
>> the ad is encouraging and i commend you in the committee for doing that. it follows an off effort to rebalance their forces towards the capabilities we need for the future. every services going through this. we talked about the marine corps and air force and the need to move away from platforms. the navy and the army have reconciled themselves to hunting modernization priorities. let's talk about supply chains. i mentioned that in the highlight of the report. supply chains and critical infrastructure were very important and they get to the potential intersection between how the investments for national security can pay off dividends in the civilian and commercial
worlds and away we haven't seen since the cold war. most recently a lot of innovation, commercial innovation has been driving innovation more broadly but maybe innovation in the supply chain might be a payoff in terms of commercial education. what were some of your main concerns when it comes to supply chain in the united states and what are the supply chains you are most worried about? >> this is where you have the most concern as you put it and are against adversaries are exploiting our technologies and exploiting our intellectual property. we tried to make specific recommendations of how we could empower cfius and employ them more as a tool to protect their critical technology to return our supply-chain rather than seeing it stolen from us.
i've been meeting with everyone there from the fbi to key industry leaders talking about how they endure these threats on a daily basis and how they fight against foreign influence and corruption and not just dealing intellectual property but stealing their entire business and taking it back to their country to use it against us. the report specifically in section 3 of the report recommendation to employ and strengthen the tools that we can use to combat those influences. >> when it comes to these new technologies is to steal them from us and it's stealing american jobs. what china is doing is illegal, it's a moral and it's kind of smart and so we have to realize
that we are going to convince them with a handshake in not doing it. we have got to protect our technology. we have got to protect our supply-chain and it's got to be a national defense priority. that is definitely one of the conclusions in the report that is highlighted by the experience of so many americans when we realize we were dependent on china for all sorts of medical supplies to make it through this pandemic. >> and that's a good point. microelectronics supply chains are oversea concern in the something we have talked about before. what are some other supply chains you found in the research where there are vulnerabilities or which word the most surprising where we have vulnerabilities that have not been widely discussed? >> there are vulnerabilities that it exist across-the-board.
i don't know his is a thick example but we have to really look comprehensively at this and recognize it's not just any one category. there are a lot of things that are important for national security and a lot of ways that national security could be put at risk. we can't say we are never going to buy anything from trying again or never participate in the system of free trade and the economy produces things overseas and economic efficiency benefits the american consumer. we have to be conscious of being so dependent on countries like china or perhaps russia or some other adversary that just cut off those supplies and again we weren't taking about medical supplies as a national security
priority but if china really wanted to go to war with us to cut off our supplies for basic medical gear to take care of the coronavirus we would be in tough shape. >> that raises the point on the recommendation that the report has about establishing a supply-chain intelligence effort which is a terrific way of addressing that. we don't know what we don't know so how do we establish a concerted effort to monitor our supply-chain on an ongoing basis? that was a great way to handle that challenge. you raised in the report raises the silicon valley defense group we have a series of efforts right now to reach out to commercial industry and you mentioned at works and we have di you all participating in an effort to get commercial technology brought to dod. what are defined in terms of the
success of these groups. they've been successful to a degree but how do we harness that and make it more broadly applied or is there a limit to how much commercial technology weekend digests and incorporate into our defense system? >> from my experience through this effort and working closely to the defense working group this is an energetic organization that art exists but finds himself on the outside looking in. we have to look at a way to formalize that relationship. when we get back to work in january i want to work with seth and others on the committee to find ways to force the secretary and the service branch to work directly with its working group because they have so much to offer. there should be simple ways that we can do that.
>> there are two fundamental recommendations. one is that we have got to be better at working with private industries and jim is right the other thing we need to recognize it's an investment in early-stage r&d to risky research and development that we cannot justify that drives a lot of the technological development in the private sector. that's something we understood in the 1950s and the 60s when the dod and r&d budget was much bigger and the much bigger percentage of our overall budget. they both go hand-in-hand and that something we have heard consistently from industry. they are relying on r&d but we
also need to figure out how we can use the technology. >> let me at as well many of the service related programs and castle ron, i began this endeavor as a skeptic and was won over quickly. we look at boston and silicon valley and understanding how they work so effectively in so well and how darpa is incorporated into all of this as well. to greater investment in these programs and spreading them out throughout the country and i say that selfishly as the money comes from the midwest. we have innovation that occurs in places like indiana two. how does di you have tentacles are out but country and other places would be a good first step. when it comes to the service
related innovation hubs i found they are often disjointed so how do we. within the structure more of an umbrella that works more closely with the service related innovation and this is something i hope we can fix and work on and improve. similar approaches to a disgust for ai. we'll make the mandates for acquisition programs to incorporate ai. there should be a way to drive acquisition programs to be more proud of inappropriate and commercial technologies. you see a lot of programs. they are going to deal with their normal suppliers and their reaching out to the commercial industry because it's harder they perceived to be a hassle
that they don't want to work with. that's an important element of this. one last question i want to make sure we address early on we talked about the need to put policies in place to enable the application of technologies like ai and relationships with allies are part of that as well. that task force had ideas with her guards to how we need to address the policy implications of new technology being incorporated and that's probably an opportunity to work with allies. what were some of the higher parties there that we could take forward into a nude that might have a different willingness to pursue some of those agreements? >> we certainly recognize the importance of our alliance and
that's something we need to strengthen but we also need to modernize it. we can't just say okay the new president likes nato or the previous president hated it so we are going back to nato the way it was. nato has no way to deal with russian cyberattacks in china's primary way of infiltrating western europe. we have got to modernize these alliances. i think nato still has a role but what is an alliance look like in the pacific? there's an article coming out in foreign affairs that talks about it tech alliance based on our jagger free and where countries are with technology and ensuring the countries that are democratic are the ones the rule the road for how technology is used. one of the critical conclusions here is in this race ultimately with china we have the for worldviews and if china wins
this race a lot of the values and human freedoms that we take for granted as america are not going to be the standard of the world anymore. the implications go well beyond the facts and we have a good line at the end of the airport where we say ensuring the future of defense is important and critical to ensuring the future and also what system of government is going to be the norm in the world for the next 50 years? that is an open question right now and it highlights how high the stakes are. >> i have little to add to that other than nato has always existed to support our allies and address an aggressive russian threat. when it comes to the china thread we have done such a poor job of leveraging our relationships with allies like those in southeast asia that
i've traveled to visit with cambodia vietnam and others but by empowering a reliance with oars -- organizations like asean that exist we have the engaged in a way we have been engaged last several years. they are begging for america to fill that gap instead of us filling the gap. china has filled the gap and china is leveraging them to choose their ventures over hours and that's something we need to desperately fix. it's painful to the point of being embarrassing in doing more to support long time and emerging allies. it's a great opportunity. they want to be with us and they recognize that our values are
better values but in some cases we are not even giving them a choice. >> absolutely that's been my experience in those countries that as well. they are looking for help and remaining independent in the face of china and the region. thank you very much congressman moulton and congressman banks for being with us today. are there any further closing remarks he want to make the four we had out? >> i want to encourage people to read the report and recognize the implications of the report go beyond dod. this is a report that every american should be aware of and we need to be committed to making changes as a nation for not only the future of our security but the future of our values. >> likewise and by the way it was a pleasure to share this
with seth and this is entirely a bipartisan effort at a time when bipartisanship is so rare on capitol hill but it shows we are getting to what we are trying to get the heart of which is spurring innovation in the national security and national defense so we can compete with china or other adversaries now and for generations to come. >> and a point that's often made for us this is the beginning of our work and we understand how important this is. we will have to get to work so let's work ahead. >> yes, absolutely and i commend you on the report. it turned out how it aligns with a lot of things we he founded the research which is encouraging to me. >> congressman i want to personally thank you for all the effort you put into this report. i found it a real wake-up call
>> good evening everybody. it's wonderful to be with you today on our 27th program with america the crossroads series. we are honored to have not one but two extraordinary, american heroes colonel vindman and max boot. and conversation about the price paid for the military man in the air charm. her program is being recorded by c-span who we welcome into our resume room. the series was created as an joint venture between united for