Deputy Secretary Discusses Last Official Trip, DoD Transition
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT --
On the first leg of his last official trip, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work yesterday sat down with reporters to discuss his upcoming visits with two defense contractors, the Reagan National Defense Forum, and what a changing defense leadership means for innovation and the third offset strategy.
Work is on a four-day trip to Tucson, Arizona, to meet with officials from Raytheon, and then to Huntington Beach, California, to meet with officials from Boeing before moving on to the defense forum at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.
“A big priority for [Defense Secretary Ash Carter] has always been advanced capabilities, improving the defense industrial base and connecting with our commercial sector,” Work said. “This year, although I can't give you a lot of details, I'm comfortable saying that in [the president’s budget for fiscal year 2018] he asked us to take a close look at munitions.”
Visiting Defense Contractors
The Raytheon Company is a premier builder of missiles, including the Standard Missile line of ship-borne guided missiles and others, Work said.
“And by all accounts” he added, “[the company] has expended a lot of effort to improve production.”
Work said he was told of the company’s “a state-of-the art facility [and] cutting-edge processes, and I'm going out to see it.”
In Huntington Beach, Work will visit the Boeing facility that supports defense and space programs. Boeing’s defense work, according to its website, includes fighter jets, rotorcraft, embedded product support, cybersecurity products, surveillance suites, advanced weapons, missile defense and commercial aircraft derivatives.
Later in the day, 79 miles northwest of Orange County at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Work will attend several panels and take part in Panel 6, Restoring Deterrence in an Era of Revanchist Powers. Other panelists include Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.
Work said that President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is now working at the Pentagon and is gradually increasing its staff.
“The interactions have been extremely professional,” Work said, “[and] I've been impressed by the questions being asked.”
Among the things they discussed was the third offset, he said, adding, “We’ve said all along that regardless of what [the third offset] is called in the future, it’s really about arresting the steady erosion of our conventional overmatch and reestablishing a healthy overmatch, because we feel very strongly that is the basis for conventional deterrence.”
Work said they also spoke about innovation and the whole innovation agenda, as well as the way he and Carter approached it.
The deputy secretary said, “We're making as strong a case as we can that [we consider] the work we've done to be foundational, and that [the third offset] was specifically designed for any administration to take it any way that they want it to go.”
Work said he’s focused on helping the transition and also on fiscal year 2017.
“We just got the [National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2017] and we're pouring through it now to see what's in there. We’re also putting together the [defense portion of the] president’s budget for 2018, which is a recommendation to the new administration,” he said.
“We’re still trying to implement all of Secretary Carter’s initiatives,” he added, “so we have plenty to do between now and Jan. 20 to support Secretary Carter, and at the same time we have to support the transition team and help them get ready.”
The transition team is starting at the top, the deputy secretary said. On Nov. 30, he said, the team held a roundtable with the Joint Staff and they’re beginning to hold roundtable discussions with the military departments.
“I'm going to do everything I possibly can to assist the new administration,” Work said, “whether it’s just writing on my own, or talking.”
Third Offset, Innovation
Innovation and third-offset constructs are among the things Carter and Work have envisioned as approaches to future deterrence and warfare, including potential conflicts with near-peer nations.
Offset strategies, Work often says, are about technologically enabled operational and organizational constructs that give the joint force an advantage at the operational level of war and at the tactical level, and so strengthen conventional deterrence.
In any future state-on-state conflict, the deputy secretary said, initial steps will occur in domains where attacks are hard to attribute, especially cyber, space and undersea.
“One of the key things a democracy has to do is [ask], ‘Are we under attack and what is the proportional response?’” Work said.
So, in domains where attacks are hard to attribute, he added, the longer it takes the United States to determine that it’s under attack and who the attacker is, the more difficult such a delay could be for the nation.
In the space domain for example, Work said the department is worried about current trends.
He said China and Russia have invested heavily in counter-space capabilities and even states like Iran and North Korea have the ability to jam the Global Positioning System and do other kinds of damage in the domain.
“We rely on space,” Work added, “and that's why we're so focused now on the defense of our [space] constellation.”
Also in the space domain, the third offset’s first organizational and organizational construct is the Air Force’s Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, or JICSpOC, at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, he said.
JICSpOC went live in October 2015 as collaboration among U.S. Strategic Command, the National Reconnaissance Office, Air Force Space Command, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the intelligence community and commercial data providers, according to the Stratcom website.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the center in May.
Work said the JICSpOC is designed mainly to maintain the battle management and command and control the United States and certain of its allies will need to maintain space capabilities while under attack.
“It's the first thing that I can point to -- to say that we've never had an organization like this before. We created this organization and it's establishing all of its TTPs -- tactics, techniques and procedures -- it's doing experiments, we’re starting to man it up, and it reflects our concern that our space constellation … is under threat and we have to prepare for it,” Work said.
Work said JICSpOC started its first experiments in 2015, and that it will achieve initial operating capability before Jan. 20, 2017.
“We’re not planning for unrestricted war in space,” he added, “... but we sure as heck are planning to be able to respond if someone else is.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)