Deputy Secretary of Defense
Remarks to the Air Force Association
National Harbor, Maryland
Thanks for that short introduction. I like it.
Secretary James, General Goldfein, distinguished general officers, members of the broader Air Force community and industry, it's just great to be here, and it's good to be among familiar faces.
I want to start by commending the Air Force Association for all it does on behalf of the 600,000 men and women of the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air Force National Guard. AFA has helped make the United States Air Force the most technologically advanced, most operationally adaptable, and most powerful aerospace force in the world, able to project power anywhere at any time throughout the globe. I want to thank all AFA members, past and present, for their hard work and truly outstanding support.
I next want to say that I'm more than a little nervous. This is the first time that the Air Force Association has ever invited me to speak at their symposium, and I was preparing my remarks, and I kept asking myself: How do I address a crowd that lives by a pretty stark binary choice: Live in fame, go down in flames.
That's downright intimidating. So I looked for some inspirations from some previous speakers. And speaking at the first-ever AFA event in 1947, the year the Air Force was born nearly 70 years ago, Dwight Eisenhower described the assembled group as a combination of, quote, "design and production men of genius," unquote. Along with, quote, "masters of the application of air power, whose imagination and energy made the skies broad avenues in the victory of war." He obviously lived in the "live in fame" school of thought.
But in all honestly, I didn't need a lot of inspiration. I get inspired every time I encounter this do-or-die thinking; every time I visit an air base, wherever that might be. Like the time I was at Anderson Air Force Base on Guam. I was headed to my plane after a very nice visit there, and I was accompanied by Brigadier General Toth, who at the time was a one-star.
And as we approached the airfield, I spotted a pair of B-2 bombers sitting on the ramp, surrounded by some ground crew and maintainers. And I turned to General Toth and said, "Hey, would you mind if we go look at those airplanes up close?" He said, "No problem." So we raced over to the B-2s. We got out of our vehicles. We started walking toward a young Air Force security policeman standing watch over the B-2s.
I said, "Good morning, Airman. I'm Bob Work. I'm the Deputy Secretary of Defense. I'd like a closer look at the bombers, if I may." Now, I could see the wheels starting to turn in his head. He composed himself looked me right in the eye. And I am not kidding. And he replied in a courteous, but firm voice: "Well, I am Airman First Class Taylor. I am not permitted to allow anyone, including the deputy secretary of all defense, to approach these aircraft without prior approval of my flight chief. And General Toth, you are not on my access list."
So he said, "Please step away from the nuclear stealth bomber.” And then, for good measure, Airman Taylor confiscated the film of my assigned photographer who had taken a picture of me taking to Airman Taylor but had the B-2s in the background. And then it stuck me like a thunderbolt or a JDAM. Airman First Class Taylor knew that he was either going to live in fame or go down in flames.
But he stepped up and did what he thought was right, guided by his training and his instructions and let the cards fall as they may. And so in doing -- and in so doing, at least in my mind, he lived in fame.
Now, I love to tell stories like this because they portray the true secret weapon of the United States joint force, our people. So in the spirit of all Airman Taylors and our remarkable Air Force, and in the broader joint force, let me say that I hope this speech emphasizes some Air Force fame and that I leave here today with no telltale trail of smoke.
But first, let me get two things off my chest. Too often, I hear commentary to the effect that our military is weakened because we are so inefficient. And look, as with any large organization, DOD has a lot of management challenges. And as the COO of the department, I am painfully aware of most of them.
But we have a unique mission. And I tell this every time I talk with a group of people who don't work in the Department of Defense and don't understand what we're all about. That mission is to recruit, organize, equip, train, educate, exercise and retain a joint force that is ready for war and operated forward to help preserve or enforce or compel the peace, depending on what our president asks us to do.
And while we will -- while we will always try to be efficient, for a mission as important of ours, we judge ourselves first and foremost by our effectiveness. Because the prospect of failure is unthinkable to all of us.
And lets make this clear. We're pretty damned effective. This department and the Air Force produces the finest, best-trained, best-led, most adaptable, most lethal fighting force this world has ever seen.
And every day, our military operates on a global scale and at an operational tempo that no military can match or even come close to matching. Regardless of the problems we face, and look, we all know there are many, we should never forget that. Because if we do, our enemies surely will, and that will be a bad day for the United States of America.
Now, I also get mad as hell when I hear somebody say the department is some kind of aging, ponderous organization that has lost its ability to innovate. Nonsense. I would say other words, but we're in polite company. I strongly believe, and I know the historical record will back me up, that since its formation in 1947, the Department of Defense has been an engine of innovation that should be the envy of any organization, past or present, government or commercial, anywhere on this planet.
And you know what? The United States Air Force has been one of the key reasons this was so. I was at the Aspen Strategy Group when somebody started saying that the Department of Defense could no longer innovate. And Richard Danzig, a former secretary of the Navy, said: Wait just a second. Consider a second lieutenant who joined the Air Force in 1953 and who retired in 1993 as a four-star. I was one lucky second lieutenant.
But over the course of that one career, that officer would see the transition from propeller to jet, the development and perfection of air-to-air refueling, the development and fielding of intercontinental range bombers, the incorporation of air-to-air nuclear missiles, air-to-ground nuclear bombs, the development of high altitude spy aircraft like the U-2.
And my heart goes out to the crew that had to bail out yesterday and especially to the family who lost their loved one.
But the development and fielding of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the move to space, the development of high-altitude Mach 3 spy planes like the SR-71 Blackbird, the development and employment of guided munitions, the perfection of the suppression of enemy and air defenses, the development of air battle management command and control platforms, Stealth, air-launched, even ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles.
And by 1991, the demonstration of the power of what we now call the Combined Air Operations Center, which I'll talk about in just a moment.
So people think we can't innovate? Please. Look, we're constantly tinkering. We're constantly innovating. We're constantly experimenting.
I think the problem is that people conflate the idea of innovation with the idea of organizational agility. And I think we all can agree that we need to be more agile. But when it comes to innovation, I'd put us up against everyone. Drop the mic, boom, period, end of story.
And that's why I want to focus the balance of my remarks on Air Force leadership during times of dynamic technological disruption that can cause profound shifts in the military competition. Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly where we are today.
First things first. Since World War II, our national security strategy has always striven to achieve a comfortable measure of what I'll call comprehensive strategic stability, a word that was coined by an Air Force colonel who taught at the Air War College.
It has three pillars: strategic deterrence, conventional deterrence, and managing the strategic environment. Those three things have to be in balance for us to achieve comprehensive strategic stability. So let's start with strategic deterrence.
From day one in 1947, the U.S. Air Force has been all about the strategic deterrence mission. First, President Truman and then President Eisenhower dramatically increased Air Force funding and the Air Force greatly expanded its bomber fleet, creating the first -- world's first truly integrated global attack force.
Now, this burgeoning Air Force -- airborne arsenal required new organizational constructs. This was the hey-day of the Strategic Air Command. Now, those of you who know me know I'm a huge movie buff. Two of my favorite moves are "Strategic Air Command," Jimmy Stewart, B-36 Peacemakers, B-47s, and June Allyson. What's not to like?
But the one I really like is "Dr. Strangelove," because Slim Pickens, he got to live in fame and go up in flames by riding that nuclear bomb down onto the Soviet Union.
Now, Eisenhower also made ICBM program a top priority and under legendary Air Force General Bernard Schriever, the ICBM program became the new Manhattan Project, and by the late 1950s the Air Force would turn out first the Atlas, then the Titan, then the Minuteman that still serves us today.
Ike was the one who ordered up the U-2 spy satellite so we could determine exactly what the nuclear balance was; the first reconnaissance satellites, once the U-2 became vulnerable; and the command and control installation in space to allow us to fight through a nuclear exchange. All of these were under Air Force leadership and management.
Now these new weapons demanded new doctrine and war plans, yet every theater commander at the time had their own plans to serve their own immediate objectives, and it required U.S. Air Force General Nathan Twining, chairman at the time, to go against his own service's desires and to get Ike to order the services to develop one target list, what is now, or was known as the single integrated operational plan, or SIOP.
All of you know how this story goes. Some six decades later, the Air Force continues to operate two of the three legs of this strategic triad, which underwrites our strategic deterrent. The triad is aging, and it's harder to maintain, and we're going to have to update it. But there are thousands of Airman Taylors out there -- I've met some of them -- who are making sure these systems remain safe, secure and reliable and, God forbid, if necessary, to respond if the president calls.
We got out of balance in the 1950s. As successful as the strategic deterrent force was, the Korean War proved that strategic deterrence was not a substitute for conventional deterrence. That said, when Ike became the president, he was told they would need 92 NATO divisions to deter and if necessary repel a Warsaw Pact attack against Western Europe.
For Ike, that was a total non-starter. There was no way that we were going to have a standing army that big. So he gambled that a smaller army, equipped and trained to employ battlefield nuclear weapons, and supported by new fighter bombers like the F-105 Thunderchief, the wonderful Thud, could deter and if necessary defeat a Soviet attack for much less cost.
And the new systems and new operational and organizational constructs that resulted were all part of what we now know as Eisenhower's New Look strategy, and what we refer to as the first offset strategy.
Now fast forward to the 1970s. As the U.S. emerged from Vietnam, we faced three big problems. And, wow, there are echoes of this today.
First, there was a rapidly modernizing Soviet military, and it no longer had a three-to-one advantage. We were worried it might have more. Second, the Soviets had achieved nuclear parity, and they had a new operational concept, designed to defeat the first offset strategy. That was to blast through NATO's front lines with successive echelons of armored forces, opening a fissure so that an operational maneuver group could go deep into NATO's rear before its leaders could resort to nuclear weapons.
Both of these circumstances undermined the premise of the first offset. And third, at home, we had budget constraints, serious budget constraints, because we were coming out of the Vietnam War.
Now if that was not enough, the character of war was changing, and the Air Force led the way in this also. It was marked by a very broad shift from unguided weapons to guided conventional weapons, especially at the tactical level of war. A lot of people forget that we dropped 10,000 guided munitions over Vietnam between 1968 and 1972 -- excuse me, 28,000 guided munitions, 10,000 of them in the last year of the war in 1972.
Five thousand were assessed as having been direct hits; another 4,000 achieved effects on targets; another 1,000, maybe 500 didn't guide -- didn't -- missed the target for some reason; operator error or equipment error.
Then in 1973 the Yom Kippur War provided dramatic evidence of advances in surface-to-air missiles, and Israel's most advanced fighters, flown by the top pilots in the Middle East, if not among the world's best, lost their superiority for at least three days due to a SAM belt. And Israeli armored forces were savaged by ATGMs, antitank guided munitions.
U.S. analysts cranked their little models and extrapolated that the balloon went up in Europe's central front and we had suffered attrition rates comparable to the Israelis. U.S. tactical air power would be destroyed within 17 days, and NATO would literally run out of tanks.
The first offset no longer worked. So we went under a second offset. Defense Secretary Harold Brown and his Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Bill Perry, set about devising a new offset strategy. Now the first thing was just to give all our tactical systems a competitive edge by embedding modern digital electronics.
That's what made the AIM-7 the AIM-7. The vacuum tubes in the AIM-7s in Vietnam did not work nearly as well as we had hoped or we needed them to. So by embedding these digital electronics, advanced computing and better C3I, all of our tactical systems would get better.
But the real advance occurred when they said, look, let's take all of these technologies and apply them at the operational level of war -- the campaign level, combining airborne, high resolution synthetic aperture radar, and moving target indicator radars, facilities that could fuse all this information, and both airborne and ground-launched missiles carrying new, guided munitions, to strike at the second and third echelons before they reach the forward line of troops.
Now they did not use this exact terminology at the time, but what they were describing is what we now call an operational-level battle network, consisting of three interconnected grids: a sensor grid; a command, control, communications and intelligence, or C3I grid; and an effecter grid. And it was visionary Air Force and Army leaders who saw the breathtaking potential of this vision.
Teaming with DARPA, they developed a program called Assault Breaker, new capabilities that looked deep and shot deep. What AWACS and the F-15 and AIM-7 did for Air Force air superiority and air warfare, these leaders hoped that Assault Breaker would do the same for ground combat on the inner German border.
We demonstrated Assault Breaker in 1982 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. And when the Soviets got wind of this demonstration and understood the results, the impact was profound. In less than two years, Soviet Marshall Ogarkov famously said that reconnaissance strike complexes, the Soviet and Russian term for battle networks, these could achieve the same destructive effects as low-yield tactical nuclear weapons.
As one strategist said, the Soviets now, quote, "Believe that their American rivals were scientific magicians. What they said they could do, they could do," unquote. The Soviets would have been even more shaken if they knew about a little project code name Have Blue, a new aircraft developed by engineers at Lockheed's Skunk Works. Nearly invisible to radar and infrared sensors, it would become what we all know is the F-117.
And at the same time, the Air Force was developing Navstar, the precursor to the global positioning system which would link all blue forces and the entire battle network in time and space. Now, that program -- and I was chiding Jamie Morin, who I understand is going to be given an award tonight, PA&E, the precursor for CAPE, said "GPS is too expensive, you got to get rid of it."
And in the midst of this, Bill Perry got on a helicopter. It was in a blinded condition. They took off, flew around, landed back on the same spot. Perry asked the pilot: "How did you do this?" And he said, "I was navigating entirely by GPS, Navstar." And the light came on for Bill Perry immediately, not only for navigation and timing, but for GPS-guided weapons that could hone through the very clouds that were obstructing the pilots vision.
And GPS survived. Leaders like Army General Donn Starry and Air Force General Bill Creech, among others, took the technological sauce of Assault Breaker to cook up whole new technological and operational constructs known as air-land battle and later NATO's follow-on forces attack.
Now, this is where the story gets real interesting for me. Battle networks, up until Assault Breaker, were generally defensive in nature. I can go back through the British home air defense system; the Navy's carrier -- carrier air -- fleet air defense system; the semi-automated ground environment, continental air system; the North Vietnamese integrated air defense system; and Assault Breaker were essentially defensive networks.
But Air Force officers said: "If we can make an offensive battle network in which we apply guided munitions throughout the depth and breadth of the battle space, there will be a true revolution in military effects."
Now, long advocates of centralized application of airpower, Air Force officers instinctively had always argued and instinctively knew that you would need a battle network brain that could fuse all the information coming from the sensor grid, come up with a plan to achieve desired effects, and then convey that plan to be effects grid, the ATO.
And the brain, although we didn't call it that the time, is what we now know as the Combined Air Operations Center. And we saw its stunning potential as the brain of an offensive battle network in Desert Storm.
So theater-level conventional battle networks employing guided munitions were the centerpiece of what we now call the second offset strategy. And they provided just as the Air Force officers projected, an astounding increase in U.S. fighting power that has served us for the last 25 years.
But our competitors have looked at our advantages. They've studied them. They've looked for our weaknesses. And as result, the second offset is wearing thin, just like the first offset before it. Unsurprisingly then, the overwhelming conventional dominance that we have maintained across domains for the past 25 years is eroding. In some instances, faster than others, but still the general trend is not something we just want to occur naturally.
Consequently, as early as 2012, DOD started thinking about a third offset strategy simply to restore the margin of operational and tactical advantage that underwrites conventional deterrence. So the first question that I always get: Well, what are we trying to offset? Pretty simple, most of our combat powers in the United States. We no longer have large concentrations of forces in the theaters they might fight. That gives our potential adversaries an initial advantage in time and space and probably numbers.
Second, our great power competitors have now achieved rough guided munitions parity, something that we haven't really had to deal with in quite some time.
And third, they know how important it is and how powerful our networks are, so they are spending an awful lot of money to pay for counter-network technologies such as electronic warfare, cyber and counter-space, because they know how central the space constellation was to the second offset.
We call all of these things shorthand A2AD, but those are what we're trying to offset. And the next natural question was: "Well, how are we going to achieve this? There is a lot of different alternative futures. What are we going to do?"
Well, the Defense Science Board looked at all of the different technologies that were out there, and they said there is one thing that will improve the performance of the battle network more than any other, and you must win the competition because you were in it, whether you like it or not, and that is exploiting advances in artificial intelligence and autonomy that will allow the joint force to assemble and operate advanced, joint, collaborative human-machine battle networks of even greater power.
And we believe strongly that this will help restore the margin of operational superiority and strengthen conventional deterrence.
Now these will be composed of five key means. We can talk about it in question and answer if you want, but generally: learning machines; human-machine collaboration, which means using advanced computers and visualization to help humans make faster, better and more relevant decisions; assisted human operations, which means plugging every pilot every soldier, every sailor, every Marine into the overall battle network; human-machine combat teaming, new ways in which manned and unmanned platforms operate; and networked-enabled autonomous weapons -- all of them connected on a learning C3I network.
And we believe this vision is very well matched for an evolving era of technological dynamism, as well as warfare where challenges or multidomain and multifunctional and operations, especially cyber, E.W., and guided munitions salvos move really at high speeds. These speeds are going to shrink the human-based OODA loop, and we're have to go after these technologies to fight fire with fire and buy back the time for our humans to make decisions that will allow us to prevail at the tactical and operational level of war.
Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear. Offset strategies are not about technology per se, so it drives me crazy when people say, "Oh, the third offset strategy is A.I. and autonomy." Wrong. Offset strategies are about technologically enabled operational and organizational constructs that provide the joint force with an advantage, primarily at the operational level of war, but also the tactical, thereby strengthening conventional deterrence.
And we're starting to see examples of both. General Hyten, Secretary James, General Welsh, the first organizational construct of the third offset is the JICSpOC, the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center. It is designed to perform battle management and command and control of a space constellation under threat of attack. It has to fight through those attacks and provide the space support that the joint force relies upon. We've never had something like that before, because we've never needed something like that before. But it is the first step in the third offset to start to readdress and to extend our margin of operational superiority.
There are also new operational constructs like the U.S. Army's concept of Multi-Domain battle, which I'm going to be talking to the Army about at AUSA in a couple of weeks; and Navy's idea for electromagnetic maneuver. All have the potential to once again transform the way the joint force fights.
So for me, this is an exciting time to be in the Department. This is a time of intellectual foment, reflected by the Air Force's operational concept, which is shot through with third-offset thinking. And I believe sets the Air Force on a course that will help lead the way.
But there is a specific area that I think the Air Force naturally can help to advance third offset thinking and serve the joint force well. We need ideas on how to connect sensing and effects grids through a command and control grid that is multi-domain, multifunctional and coalition-friendly.
As General Hal Hornburg once said, as the commander of ACC, "If you can't control it, you can't command it." And Air Force thinkers have been thinking about this since, literally, World War II. We need Air Force thinkers to expand the idea of the CAOC, and think in terms of building a joint learning C3I network that can mesh operations across domains, across functions, with allies, and sometimes across regions.
Airmen think in terms of space, cyberspace and air. This thinking comes naturally to you. And I hope you can lead the joint force into a new way of thinking, where air superiority effects might originate from under the sea, or land superiority is made possible through 380-degree -- 360-degrees, sorry -- math challenged -- I am a Marine, so give me a break multidomain and multifunctional effects. And maritime superiority that's achieved by cooperative operations at sea, on land, and in the air.
So I, before all of you, I would like to publicly commend the chief for taking this challenge up. It's the most important thing we have to understand. And we need a warfighter thinking about it all the way. I also have the I.C. thinking about it in terms of the intelligence flow. But we must have a warfighter approach just like we had going from the first to second offset, when we said, "What is the brain that will make this work? And what are the connections, the central nervous system, that will allow us to wield this battle network effectively?"
Now, this may sound too optimistic, but I believe this isn't too different from the airmen who did it on the hot dusty ranges of America's west, as they created new ways to combine capabilities during the test and training revolution of the '70s and the '80s. Coming out of Vietnam in the early 1970s, a group of fighter pilots realized that if a pilot could survive the first 10 combat sorties, their odds of surviving the bulk of their tour went up dramatically.
The driving idea was to fly realistic war scenarios, to blood fresh pilots and get them past those first 10 missions, a totally new concept in air training. And the result was Red Flag. Wow. You go back and read the history. In the first four years of Red Flags, we lost 24 aircraft to ground and air accidents. We were using telephone poles to mimic fuel lines.
We had airmen sitting up on top of hills firing off bottle rockets to simulate SAM launches. But the result is what we know today, Red Flag, which is the preeminent training ground for air warriors of all stripes.
The point is, it's going to take mavericks like those who were willing to push against inertia to drive innovation. In the case of Red Flag, these were pilots who came fresh out of Vietnam. And for them, it was a matter of blood. They had lost friends and colleagues. And they weren't going to allow it to happen again if it was at all possible.
So in spite of all bureaucratic obstacles, they succeeded. And we need that same attitude in the Air Force today.
So once again, people complain to me, "Work, you're just talking about another revolutionary affair; this is transformation in sheep's clothing, blah, blah, blah." It's all a load of crap. It's about empowering the Airman Taylors, because we know we have the best people in the world. And we have made it a national priority since World War II to never allow the Airman Taylors to go into combat without the greatest technological edge we could provide them.
Marry up our people with advanced technology, and you will have a force that will dominate any adversary, any time, in any alternative future.
And that's why in the third offset we emphasize human-machine collaboration, and human-machine combat teaming. Because for us, the human is central. And it is our greatest strength and our greatest trust.
So we need the Air Force, along with the Army, Navy and Marines, to give all the Airman Taylors in whatever uniform they're wearing time to experiment; to fail and learn. And then we need to get out of their way, because they're going to tell us what we need to know, and they're going to tell us how we're going to live in fame.
In conclusion, let me quote Eisenhower again, because for an Army general, he sure did understand the Air Force. He said, quote, "The United States Air Force is a young organization. From the beginning, it has been young in spirit and outlook, manned by doers and zealots, impatient of frill and dogma, who measure traditions, their contributions to the present, and rejected those that no longer earned their way."
I have nothing more to add to Ike's sentiments, except that I wholeheartedly agree. There must be, and I hope there will always be a place for this kind of thinking in our department and in our Air Force. And the best we can do is give our people the raw materials, the oil, the canvas and the brushes, and turn them lose and see what type of beautiful things they can create.
May the airmen who serve our nation always be young in spirit and outlook. May God guard and guide them as they fly, fight and win. Aim high, Air Force. Live in fame or go down in flames.
Thank you very much.
(UNKNOWN): Thanks very much, sir. We have time for a few questions here.
Q: We tightly controlled first and second offset technologies. How do we overcome problems associated with not only being unable to protect third offset technologies, but also not necessarily being the best or having the best third offset technologies?
MR. WORK: This is a very, very, very good question.
First of all let me describe the third offset very much like the rifle, telegraph and railroad revolution. The railroad and the telegraph were driven by commercial interests, and they changed society and ultimately changed the way war was fought.
Similarly, today A.I. and autonomy is being driven by commercial interests. We have A.I. and autonomy starting to change our society and the way we live, and it will inevitably have the same impact on war that the rifle, telegraph and railroad revolution did.
And as the question implies, because they are commercially available, all competitors are going to have them. So it's going to be much like the interwar period. Everyone knew that there were advances in aviation. Everyone knew that there was mechanization. Everyone knew there was a thing called the radio.
But only the Germans put all of the pieces together to have an operational and organizational construct called Blitzkrieg that allowed them to dominate the field of battle for about three years.
Now, the thing about that, this is what now we're faced with. It's the person who can put them together in operational and organizational constructs and then train the force and exercise the force to be ready to employ them. And we've got a damn big advantage in that.
When we said we wanted own the night, we owned the night within 10 years. When we said we were going to go after guided munitions, we went after guided munitions in a big way. When we said we were going to use a space constellation in support of operational tactical commanders, after three decades of using it to support the national command authority for nuclear war, we were ready to do it because our people had already thought it out.
You go out to the JICSpOC right now and watch the experimentation. We are putting it all together. And that is why -- look, it's not the technology. Who gets the technology to the field faster? Doesn't matter. If it matters, it only will matter is if we can employ it to tactical and operational effect on the battlefield.
So this is going to be a competition of fast followers. There are going to be people who see somebody do something and say, "Whoa, I can do that. In fact, I might do it a little differently and I will do it this way," And as long as we're a fast leader, that's okay.
But it is a way we get it to the field faster than our opponents, and constantly keep them in a tail chase. And that's why I am relatively confident that we'll do okay.
Now, are we going to get technologically surprised? You're damned sure we are. We're going to be technology surprised. So although we must strive to be a fast leader, we better be a fast follower. And that's why I say we've got to get better at agility, organizational agility. We've got the innovation part down pat, but we've got to be better and more agile without question, and that is how we are going to do this in the third offset.
Q: Thank you.
Sir, you directed the standup of the electronic warfare executive committee 18 months ago. After receiving the Defense Science Board's assessment of the status of electronic warfare across DOD, do you feel that the DOD has increased its understanding and prioritization of electronic warfare and electronic magnetic spectrum operations?
MR. WORK: No, not yet. Look, there's four areas in which we struggle within the department because they go across so many different programs and across all the services, across all the components, across all the COCOMs. That's electronic warfare, space, cyber and nukes.
And because of that, up to this point all of the investment has been decentralized, which is okay as far as it goes. But the reason why we set up the XCom was to say, "Hey, look, if we're going to set ourselves up for a competition and set us up to be more agile, we have to have a better view at the enterprise-wide level of how this stuff is all coming together."
So in the 18 months that we have had the XCom and now the CIMB, the Cyber Investment Management Board, we now at least have a clear understanding of where we're headed across the enterprise in terms of investment.
And, for example, there is a big debate going on in the department -- is stand-in jamming better than standoff jamming?; What is the combination? We've got to work through all of this. So I would say the XCom is the first step. Tell us how we're employing our resources, then we'll ask the next step: How should we change the way we are doing this?
And it's going to make the services a little uncomfortable because we're going to have to go at an enterprise-wide level and we're going to have to be directive. And this generally is where in the DMAG, things become -- DMAG, the Deputy Management Action Group, this is where things get sporty.
Q: Thank you.
Offsets tend to be revolutionary as opposed to incremental improvements, which can force change to existing doctrine and organizational structures. How do you envision the third offset changing our doctrine for how we conduct war and -- and focus our force structure?
MR. WORK: Well the first thing is a lot of people worry about the Terminator. They worry about Skynet. Look, what this is going to be is a gradual implementation of narrow A.I. throughout the battle network. So it will appear initially to be gradual, but if Fingers (General Goldfein)) is able to figure out a vision for a learning C3I network in which all of the narrow A.I. is contributing to better, faster knowledge, and connecting the sensor grid to the effects grid, then that is when you'll see the major revolutionary step.
Just like we've had guided munitions at the tactical level of war since 1942, but it wasn't until Desert Storm where Air Force officers said "Let's harness this power at the campaign level," that there was a big change just like Blitzkrieg in World War II.
So my answer will be in the next five to 10 years, we're going to try a lot of experimentation, at least this is what I hope. We have resource challenges, I think you know all about them. But we need to try a lot of experimentation and do the hard intellectual thinking which will say where is the jump point; where is the knee in the curve where the performance of the joint battle networks really begin to be revolutionary, instead of evolutionary?
And we'll look to people like Bill Creech and (FNGRs ?) and many, many, many other officers in the joint force to help us figure this out. Look, I couldn't be prouder of our Air Force. Over the last 15 years, in terms of conventional combat power, without question the Air Force has been reduced the most, and that is because we needed to build up our space capabilities. We needed to build up our ISR capabilities, and we needed to build up our cyber capabilities.
The only reason why the Air Force is able to operate as it does today is because of the leadership and the people that are in this organization. So I admire all of you, whether you wear the uniform or you serve as a civilian in the U.S. government service in the Department of Defense, or you serve as civilian and U.S. government service in the Department of Defense, or you're in the defense industry that supports us.
You are all patriots. I have very high esteem and regard for each of you and God bless you all. I think I am getting the hook.