Opening Statement by Ranking Member Jack Reed, SASC Hearing on the Future of Warfare
OPENING STATEMENT OF U.S. SENATOR JACK REED
RANKING MEMBER, SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
To receive testimony on the future of warfare
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to join you in thanking our witnesses for their willingness to appear today to provide their thoughts on the future of warfare and how it may shape the organization of, and the investments in, our military going forward. Each of you has contributed to our national discussion on these issues, and I look forward to your testimony.
A central theme of last week’s hearing, and one that I suspect will continue today, is the steady erosion of U.S. technological superiority and the need for a so-called “third offset strategy” to recapture a distinct qualitative advantage over our adversaries in operationally critical areas. The presumption that the decades-long technological superiority enjoyed by the U.S. and our allies will continue into the future may no longer be valid as near-peer competitors have learned from our past success and made advancements of their own – particularly in the areas of precision and long-range strike, anti-access/area denial, space, and cyber. This diffusion of technology has even impacted our advantages over non-state groups like ISIL and al Qaeda who are increasingly able to acquire and employ tools, including drones and satellite communications equipment, which would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
As Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work told students at the National Defense University last year, “As any good student of Clausewitz knows, the fundamental nature of war is an interactive clash, a two-sided duel – action followed by reaction. While the United States fought two lengthy wars, the rest of the world did not sit idly by -- they saw what our advantages were back in 1991’s Desert Storm, they studied them, and they set about devising ways to compete.” He continued, “Our forces face the very real possibility of arriving in a future combat theater and finding themselves facing an arsenal of advanced, disruptive technologies that could turn our previous technological advantage on its head – where our armed forces no longer have uncontested theater access or unfettered operational freedom of maneuver.”
Underlying these challenges are several technology trends that are reshaping the future of warfare. Global investment, notably by the commercial sector, in research and innovation is far outpacing the research and development (R&D) budgets of the DOD and the U.S. government as a whole. To compete, we will have to develop better acquisition and hiring policies to harness this trend and to incentivize some of those talented scientists and engineers in the U.S. private sector to work with us. And we will have to protect the military and civilian research programs, laboratories, and agencies that are driving the innovation that will shape our future military capabilities.
The pace of technological change is accelerating, but DOD processes seem to be slower and more bureaucratic than ever. We need a 21st century defense enterprise to keep up, and I hope this is a key theme in this Committee’s efforts at defense reform. Beyond acquisition reform, this includes the development of new military concepts of operations that, for example, deal with complex robotic systems; new rules of engagement for the expanding cyber battlefield; new regulations to smartly deal with expanded uses of things like nanotechnology, artificial intelligence or biotechnology; and a new attitude both in the Pentagon and in Congress that encourages the informed risk taking and innovation that is characteristic of the people and companies that are shaping the future. I welcome the witnesses’ thoughts and suggestions on these issues, and I look forward to their testimony.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.