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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti spoke during a panel while at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California on Dec. 2, 2023. The panel was “Laboratories of Learning," and focused on innovation and technological breakthroughs in the Department of Defense. Speakers included: Representative Ken Calvert, U.S. House of Representatives; James Taiclet, Chairmen, President, and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation; Gen. David Allvin, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff; and the moderator, Jim Sciutto from CNN.
Jim Sciutto: Thanks so much, to everybody, for being here, and thanks so much to my panelists, an impressive group. And it's an honor to share the stage with you I look forward to the conversation. When I saw the topic, “laboratories of learning future of warfare” in a typical year, you might be talking about wargaming and, and plans in the Situation Room and studies at the Naval and Army War College. In the current world, we're living through laboratories of learning and warfare with the largest war in Europe since World War Two, of course, the war in the Middle East and well, possibility of a looming conflict in East Asia. So we're seeing these things the laboratory is alive today. It's playing out before our eyes in many ways, and I certainly look forward to hearing your views on how you're seeing that and what can be applied and how the US and the armed services and the defense industry and Congress can learn from that.
Keep in mind you can email, you can post questions, which later during the conversation I can take from my tablet, and I know I do always like to give you guys a chance to pipe in as well. So many impressive people here. So keep that in mind as we get closer to about 10 minutes to the end, I'll start looking at questions and bring you into the conversation. So first, if we can begin and I might I might lean on you Gen. Allvin. When you look at Ukraine, we’re certainly seeing a whole host of advanced technologies play out there, as well as old school technologies. And as my as my military friends told me, we got a world war two like artillery war going on in the Middle East. We got a world war one like trench war at times. But we also have integration of UAVs there are a whole host of electronic warfare capabilities that we're seeing play out there was some success. There are unmanned vehicles at sea that have had success against Russia's Black fleet. But first from your perspective, what future technologies are we seeing play out here and which ones can the US military most learn from?
Gen. Allvin: Well, thank you very much and thanks for having me on the panel. And if I might take advantage of the fact that I have in mic now is to echo what our Secretary the Air Force said in the previous panel and acknowledge the tragic incident that happened and then when the CV-22 went down over in Japan. It's some tough times we have we are blessed and that we have Americans who are willing to come into our formation and take on those type of activities. And we're very proud of them, all of them. And we're very saddened by that situation. But thank you for joining me.
Jim Scuitto: I’m glad you said that because working in news when I see those accidents, which happen frequently because training can be life threatening as hell. It's a reminder that folks are putting their lives at risk every day even when we and the public isn't aware of.
Gen. David Allvin: To the specific question I think it's very interesting. I I always find myself pausing when I'm asked what are the lessons of Ukraine what what can be applied, because things are so contextual. And I think that's what we need to need to remember one of the first things is, you can imagine someone wearing a uniform of this color gets asked, “Well, obviously, the character warfare has changed to where air superiority doesn't matter anymore because they're fighting without.” I would actually flip that on its head and say, that shows the value of being able to have air superiority because I wouldn't want to put ourselves into a conflict, such as we see in Ukraine right now. That's not the way we want to fight wars. And so, to me, the lesson is that we need to understand the context within which we need to continue to gain and maintain superiority, as technology advances into the future. And that's my number one lesson. I think when we look at what Ukraine has done with respect to their technologies or the experimentation, I think what's most impressive is the way that they've been able to rapidly scale their defense industrial base. Within that context to see, I'm sure there are some elements of that which make it a little bit easier when you're you've been invaded when your sovereign territory is threatened when you're being bombed when you're under attack. That certainly necessitates a lot of intervention. But I think the ability to take what we have and use it in an innovative way I think, is very important when they can when they have a sensor network now, that's based on applications on phones. So it seemed like it was antiquated the idea they require require people to tell you when the missiles are coming in, but I will tell you, we can we can watch the war on our iPhone right now as you see the availability of information, because the entire population is involved. They can scale mass very rapidly, and I think that's important. But we also need to understand the context in that taking it out of that geography out of that particular situation, bears with some risks, but the idea that one can use the technology that you have to do disruption, which is what I would say largely, it's sort of a disruptive battle now between each side, not necessarily decisive but disruptive. Now that's not necessarily less important. But I think the the ability for them to take the technologies that they have, rapidly scale ,and put it out into a disruptive situation, I think is is something that we need to be mindful of. We can't be brittle. As we develop our force of the future. We need to understand that those will happen. That war is a human thing. And the ability to leverage technology with human innovation is something we can never walk away from as we continue to develop more and more sophisticated systems.
Jim Scuitto: You speak about necessity as a driver of innovation. I spoke to a member of Congress recently, who had just been to Ukraine and said, Listen, what when you when your family is under threat, as as Ukrainian soldiers, men and women, have to live through every day, you end up right as you're trying to save your country and trying to save lives. And that's, that's a pretty good driver of that kind of innovation necessity. Admiral Franchetti, there has a story out yesterday about the status of the war in Ukraine and you know, these assessments better than me, but that Western intelligence assessments speak to if not a frozen conflict, they don't expect a lot of progress on the battlefield in the coming months. But but someone made a point to me as I was reporting out the story, saying, well don't forget the success Ukraine has had really neutralizing the Black Sea Fleet. I mean going back to the sinking of Moskva. But more recently pushing them back dozens of miles through a combination of long distance strikes, but also UUVs and attacks like that. I wonder if you could speak from a naval perspective, what kind of innovation you're seeing there, and what to the same point what kind of innovation can the US Navy learned from?
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: Well, thanks, Jim. And it has really been a good, amazing success story and what the Ukrainian Navy and Ukrainian forces at large have been able to do against the Russian fleet, and really pushing it back and in keeping it away. Do you remember early on in the war the they were really trying to press up against especially into Odessa. And, you know, certainly if that had happened, it really would have been a stranglehold on the Ukrainian economy that grain would not have been able to flow out. So I think, you know, as you look at the the innovative spirit, I think of the Ukrainian Navy it's been great to see so thinking innovatively, creatively. How can they use asymmetric technology to go after a much bigger adversary with a lot more capability? It's been a real success story. I think the other part of that is, it's a lot of empowerment of their Sailors at every level. You know, we certainly spent a lot of time working with Ukrainians over the years on developing a solid NCO, noncommissioned officer core. So again, I think that helps with the innovation because they're the ones that are going to operate the technology, use the technology and do this battlefield innovation, so many lessons that we can learn from that as well.
Jim Scuitto: I’ve been speaking to General Kelly for a book I've been finishing, and he was describing that about that Ukraine has warfighters that innovate, they have the ability to they're given the power to make those decisions very, very different from the way the Russian military or even the Chinese military is. Structure is very, very top down. Congressman Calvert, you control the purse strings on both on your committee but Congress does in terms of how much and where money is focused and spent and I know you work closely with the general with the admiral and others like them as well as Jim in the defense industry. But Congress as you know, doesn't have a great reputation for how it spends money. And sometimes not on the right weapons systems going back through the years. Are you confident today that Congress is spending money on the right things for the present and future?
Rep. Ken Calvert: Well, I can break that up into two categories. One, we're going to continue to have a lot of systems that have been developed back in the Reagan era that we're still utilizing today. And so that contributes to significant O&M costs just to continue to fly, say the B-1 or B-51 or B-52, excuse me, and older ships and the rest of it. But now we need to move toward newer technologies and field them rapidly. And that's why we've created new mechanisms, within the budget process to do exactly that. DIU is one part of that, APFIT. These are ways in order to just be honest to get around the traditional procurement process and get innovative technology fielded as rapidly as possible. One thing we've seen in Ukraine and we see in Israel is the utilization of loitering munitions, drones, and those aren't going to go away and matter of fact, they're going to get more technologically advanced, as we introduce artificial intelligence into these instruments of war which are very, very advanced and very productive from the perspective of those who are fighting the war. And so we're going to move in that direction cluster drones, the rest of it are going to be a big part of what we're going to be doing. Using commercial technologies going back in the old days, it was the government that had all the money to do the R&D. Well, that's those days are gone. And the private sector is spends much more dollars on R&D, than we do and there's technologies out there that have military application. So we should take advantage of that. And that's why we want to create the Office of Strategic Capital to leverage those dollars into acquisition and to scale and go to scale and find those innovators that are out there maybe in this room that can help us get to where we need to go.
Jim Scuitto: I want to come back to the admiral after I go to Jim, on that very topic because you and I discussed the Disruptive Capabilities Office as as kind of an incubator of exactly that kind of cooperation. Before I do, though, just uh, I do want to give Jim Taiclet a chance to talk about one, that cooperation right public private sector, but also the supply chain supply and military supply chain, which as you know, is an enormous focus because of deficiencies that have been exposed by the war, the war, certainly in Ukraine, we're seeing some coming out of the war in Israel, but also questions about how long the US could maintain in a conflict no one wants but but if there wouldn't be conflict over Taiwan, and again, I referenced this book, I've been writing a book about great power competition, but in every conversation I had, left, right, military, European, US, folks were bemoaning the status of the military supply chain, you know, the end of the Amazon model just in time. And I wonder, from your perspective, are those deficiencies being corrected and quickly enough? And then if you could speak a little bit to the cooperation with the defense with the government on these weapons systems.
Jim Taiclet: So Jim, between the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, it basically drives us to a whole new conception of what the industrial base needs to be, the defense industrial base, it can't be just five large aerospace companies with this with our suppliers it's that's an outmoded way of looking at the defense industrial base. So you get the Congressman Calvert’s interest in accelerating technology insertion. We have to marshal all of US industry and allied industry eventually, to participate in the DIB if you will. And so how do we do that? First of all, I think we just got to be honest about the players. The players are the I call them the hyperscale defense innovators, and that's the Northrop Grumman, the Lockheed Martin and Boeing etc. But also we have hyperscale technology innovators that we need to bring into the tent and work with us and we're starting to do that. Thirdly, we need to get emerging defense innovators into the tent. It's hard for them to get there now for a lot of reasons. I know Congressman Calvert and others in Congress are trying to ease some of those barriers as they are in DOD. But we need to look at this as marshaling all of US industry as a service in National Defense. So that's the first lesson of the last couple of years. I think there's two really important ways to learn from the tech industry as they've been doing in the Ukraine crisis, and bring it into our defense industrial base. One is we develop telecom and technology networks like Internet of things, etc. in the commercial space, is you bring together the players, you bring together the customer base, so it would be the services you bring together OSD, you bring together those hyperscale technology defense innovators like us, and as well as the Microsofts and Verizons and others we're working with to be on a standards body that could create the frequency sets, the interfaces, the API's that everyone's going to use to create that next generation of all-domain operations, joint all-domain operations. The second thing we need is a faster procurement system for digital goods. So the acquisition system that we have today that the DIB serves as a long cycle, multi-year system of procurement, we need to have a parallel path for digital acquisition. That's much much faster. So the clock speed of digital acquisition software developments about 10 times faster than Newtonian development, like ships, airplanes, etc. We need to create that separate acquisition paths. So if we do those two things, I think we'll put into play some of the lessons that we're learning on the current situation.
Jim Scuitto: So, Adm. Franchetti, you and I had a chance to speak before and you told a great story about you know, under the umbrella of the Disruptive Capabilities Office, but also how you were, you know, you're you're learning and training this and experimenting in real time. Out at sea, right. And you describe one instance where you had a dozen different UAV technologies that were I don’t want to say playing with, but you're experimenting with and in that operation can you explain, maybe share that story, but explain how that broader picture works and how you're changing the way you not just choose these technologies, but then also integrate them quickly and train up the forces to use them.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: Sure, you know, I think, in the Navy, you know, about five or six years ago, we took a hard look at the interwar period where there was a lot of conversation about thinking about scenarios for the future, and we decided to go back and really reinvigorated our Wargaming, our fleet experimentation, our integrated battle problems, and figure out how do we actually look at what are the capabilities we need for the future. And then how are we going to go after them? So out of that was born an unmanned Task Force, which really gave us an opportunity to take some of these capability gaps that we have at sea, be able to talk about them with a variety of different industries, and then try to bring them together in a series of exercises and experimentation. So if you take our Task Force 59, which is operating out in the Middle East, as part of our 5th Fleet, they've been able to bring together over 60,000 hours of operations at sea, with about 30 different exercises and operations, and about 23 different platforms. Where the companies come out, they do experimentation, so there's a lot of water in the Middle East. We want to have maritime domain awareness. So we can have these unmanned platforms, network together through a mesh network, being able to fuse their picture into a single pane of glass, which gives you this big visibility. This is something that we know we need to do. This is in every theater that we have, so if you can use this technology to do that, you save time for the humans. The unmanned technology is scanning, they're going to come up with some kind of anomalous event. They're going to queue the operator that they need to send someone out there to go and look at it, and then the operator can make a decision about what to do. So again, this is just one of our many experiments that we're doing. I think the to your point, we really need to, because of the the pace of the change of technology, when we get the companies out there, they're working with our operators hand in hand, they can understand what we need to do, how we might need to modify that capability, and then eventually that will enable more rapid prototyping to get after the challenges that we really face.
Jim Scuitto: It was actually good because Dr. Karp brought this up this morning in the breakfast conversation, but just it's a strategic question, is it not to some degree in that you have a country like China with almost limited, limitless rather, man and woman power and two, you can't play man to man and that so you have to use technology to kind of level up, which is and it's interesting to see that at play already. Congressman, as we discussed that in the big picture, strategic terms, when you look at defense innovation in UAV space, in UUV space, in AI and I want to I want to have some more pointed questions on where AI is at play today. Who's winning now? Are you Dr. Mark was saying from a business perspective US business is winning in this space, for instance, versus Europe. How does the US measure up against China in these new technologies and then Russia to some degree?
Rep. Ken Calvert: I would say today that we are ahead and that in that realm, software development. I think Alex would agree that we're the best in the world on software development. And we need to capitalize on that. And that software development will lead to new kinds of system when I was talking about UAVs, we’re also for the Navy. They're experimenting with these drone ships, which is force multiplication without having to build a significant platform which gives us some more flexibility. Same thing in the Air Force with the with the what we're calling the loyal partner whenever you need CCA the giving us the capability of for a lesser amount of money to give us more capability that can combine with a say with an F-35. And that's that's all software driven. That's all and that's something we're very good at. And so we should invest in that. Alex made the point that we only invest about 1% of our defense budget for that. That is a mistake. We got to look at that. That's why we should continue to fund DIU. We’re proposing a billion dollar budget to DIU. We also want to give the combatant commanders flexibility, about $220 million divided amongst works to combat commanders to give them the ability to buy things that they believe they need. And a lot of that will be technology driven, quickly. To go because one thing we're gonna hear a lot about is the procurement processes is broken. And so we're trying to figure out ways that we can get beyond that and gets get the capability in the field as rapidly as possible.
Jim Scuitto: Do others agree that the US retains that advantage because this sort of conventional wisdom, the cocktail party wisdom, right is the obvious is falling behind China, quantum computing. They're just about to make a big leap. They're ahead of us AI they're ahead of us. You know, they're thinking in 5, 10 year terms and where's caught up in congressional turf battles? I wonder do others?
Gen. David Allvin: I'll take a stab at that. And I think I think it's the challenge is trying to understand the arc. The pace of how we are I mean, we've worked to look right now, one to one you could do some sort of a net assessment about where we are I think, as we look at the arc of things, in that the fact that you know, the PRC, they are accelerating in the amount of innovation in the amount of things that they are fielding, so that's that's fact. And as we look at so from the United States Air Force perspective, we are having that, you know, that perennial challenge of trying to get to the future as fast as we can, understanding that we're limiting resources between the future and today. And so I think in order to, to try and target how we stay ahead, is to focus where we're going to have our innovation because when you look at it with the technology, all the technology out there, it's it's it's a buffet, and it can be overwhelming at times because there's so much tasty stuff out there, but you can really hone in on it when you understand the nature of the threat. What what warfighting concept do you believe you want to leverage to get the greatest advantage? And so if we look back 40 years, I suppose was the last time when we were in a great power competition. When we did one of these types of shifts. And I would say that was arguably the air land battle. And that was the sort of different way that we were contemplating and developing our tactics, techniques and capabilities to fight the Soviets and the Fulda Gap. At the same time, there were technological advances and things like stealth and precision. And so those came together in a manner that we're able to field those and stay ahead. I should also mention that at the same time, we had the additional advantage of having the highest defense budget as a ratio of GDP, as we've had, it's about twice what it is now. So we had that.
Jim Scuitto: Was any American president involved in that decision?
Gen. David Allvin: So when you think about that, that is bridging the transition bit from from old to new. Now we find ourselves in a situation where that ramp appears to be steeper, as the as the threats evolving faster. And so we need to focus where we might want to deliver it, to develop the innovation, the technology to deliver in capabilities, which is why these collaborative combat aircraft are part of our future going forward. But I think if we were to look at the last that last time we're doing air land battle, that technological advancement was, as I said, it was more along the lines of stealth and precision. I would say now if you had to narrow it down to a word or two, it would probably just be speed. It's about speed of recognition, decision and action. You can't do that with the sort of platforms we have, which is why we're developing through our individual services and collectively, they're doing all their main command and control this ability to be able to move data faster and make decisions, decision ready information available to decision makers faster. We'll talk about collaborative combat aircraft, we have to have affordable mass as well. Munitions are not getting less expensive if you want them to be precise. So the ability to leverage autonomy and machine learning, and those sort of algorithms to put collaborative munitions to where now you can get the most out of a single munition. Now, you have a more cost effective force that can serve as more targets because the pace of the fight is going to be about speed. So leveraging those particular technologies and sort of driving different vectors of innovation that are really centered on a joint warfighting concept which we have, I think is a path forward to stay ahead.
Jim Scuitto: Anytime I read the wargaming for instance, again of conflict no one wants the US China conflict over Taiwan is just how swift it is. And also sadly how swift the casualties and the losses would be in any conflict like that. Jim is a private sector view do you in terms of where where the superpowers the great power stand in this competition?
Jim Taiclet: Well, the US is clearly ahead and software development. A lot of that software development is happening in the commercial sector. So again, we have to bring them in. Now, the most immediate and important opportunity in the near term to do this is matching targets, tracks and weapons in a way that the commander can act the fastest with the best information and make the best decision. If you want to know the best use of AI right now and national defense, it's that. And so what we're working on with some of our industry partners as well, large and small in INDOPACOM is a joint fires network, that will have the ability to sense from space, from aircraft, from ships, and other sensors, all of the targets that are at play. It merges that data on the targeting with an AI, in an AI engine that brings together all the weapons that INDOPACOM has its disposal, doesn't matter if they're Air Force, Army, Marines, etc. And it gives the commander options, as you said General, about what does the AI machine think is a good choice for me and stack ranks them. The commander then makes decisions to match those targets with weapons for maximum effectiveness. And you're using a lot of digital technology and a lot of artificial intelligence to process this way, way faster in minutes that would take maybe hours to do today.
Gen. David Allvin: If I may add on to that. So that sounds interesting enough, to have that the inventory of but the next level challenge is not just knowing what weapons you have, where are they? Where are they, what's the readiness of the platforms that are going to launch, those are happening. Those are changing minute by minute. So, what might be a good decision now in 10 minutes might not be the right decision might not be the targeting solution. You might go to another platform that exists in another domain. But having that information at your fingertips to make that right decision at the time. That could that could be a difference.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: I will say is taking a step back and looking more broadly to your your question. I mean, it's a warfighting ecosystem. And you know when you look at our joint force and all the capabilities we have, you know, if you think about marrying up our conventionally manned platforms, you know, with very disruptive technologies, which is why we're standing up this Disruptive Capabilities Office to try to bring those in and field them faster for the warfighter, and then a mix of, of uncrewed vessels with a little bit more capability and lethality. That's that ecosystem connected by a network that is going to continue to maintain our advantage against the PRC.
Jim Scuitto: I was literally just gonna ask you about that because the reason I was is because oftentimes in this both the US China or US Russia, competition or in budgeting decisions and so on that there's a focus on the numbers right? A 350-ship Navy, and we can't fall behind China's plans for the size of its navy, but you made the point to me the ecosystem is more important than the raw numbers. Has that fed in? I mean, is that is that now accepted gospel in terms of the way these decisions are made, or the kinds of requests you make as CNO? Ecosystem more important than whether I have you know, 37 destroyers.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: I think it's really important to understand how all of our platforms are going to be used and integrated together. Certainly capacity has its own quality, which is important. But again, it's all about how they're networked, and how we can leverage both the forces and the services all across the joint force, but also with allies and partners. So I think that's all the multivariable equation that you have to put together when you're thinking about and developing concepts that we want to experiment on to determine what those best investments are.
Rep. Ken Calvert: And I just want to point out, quantity does matter. The Chinese are up close to 400 ships right now. We're what, Admiral, about 290 or so. So that's one of the reasons why these uncrewed vessels, whatever you want to call them, because they're a lot less money and it is a budget problem, but it does give us more flexibility. But we still need to build more ships, we are woefully behind. And we have an industrial base problem. We have a supply chain problem. We have a labor problem, to get to where we need to go, and certainly in the submarine program. We're not where we need to be. So we have a lot of challenges ahead of us, and a lot of it is money.
Jim Scuitto: So, is it happening to you look for instance, if the AUKUS agreement right, you know, the promises made about ramping up sub construction just doesn't seem to my knowledge that they're being met yet.
Rep. Ken Calvert, chair, house appropriations defense subcommittee
Well, we need to execute that as rapidly as possible. Australia obviously wants to be our partner. We desperately need partners, Japan wants to be our partner. We need to take advantage of all of that. Obviously, UK and we have a special relationship but that helps us because it's more economical to have partners that contribute to our common security and to the world security and that's something we have to take advantage of.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: I think AUKUS also you know, it's also in the submarine is very critical and that piece of that and we're eyes wide open about that a lot of work to do but I'm confident partnering with industry and and the Congress and everyone that we're going to get where we need to go. I think the other really great part though, is the second pillar, you know, that doesn't necessarily get as much play all the time, but there are a lot of innovative technologies that we're trying to work on and develop and field rapidly with Australia and the UK, and again, we have bringing together industry the best minds from all three nations. I think this is gonna be a game changer for us.
Jim Scuitto: Which which innovative technologies?
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: Especially autonomy. I mean, we're just out of DIU yesterday, with Doug Beck, talking and showing the the leaders of the three countries all these different things that we're going to be able to do together.
Jim Taiclet, chairman:
That’s a great example, Australia, Five Eyes country, fully trusted. We and they are together, working towards having a new guided-missile enterprise production facility in Australia, which would reduce the fragility of our own industrial base by having that location in place. It's still hard to do from a regulatory export control perspective, even with Australia, even with something we know we need. And then we can produce in a different place with qualified people. So there are a lot of regulatory barriers. We should be knocking those down.
Jim Scuitto: I'm glad you brought up Doug Beck because he and I went to college together and I did well I did want to get his name into the conversation somehow. There it is. It's done. Alright, I've done I've done my job. On AI, and listen, there won't be a conversation today that AI is not part of the current part of the conversation. We heard it this morning and there was one prior to this that was expressly about AI. But it certainly factors into our discussion here. And essentially, whenever I speak to folks in any military or Intel capacity, I was speaking to one of the UK Intel chiefs recently. And they will say it's already here, right? This is not some distant prospect. It's already here. The Intel folks it's interesting. It's not dissimilar from the way for instance, Palantir was discussing it or you discuss it, you know, they'll say listen in an intelligence gathering, they, China, have an enormous manpower advantage and we can't compete. So we use AI to kind of as a force multiplier, it seems to be a consistent thing. But in terms of what is happening today in a way that folks understand, where for instance, General, is AI already integrated into your operations, decision making, weapons systems?
Gen. David Allvin: Well, it actually is interesting in the ISR enterprise As that we're leveraging algorithms and starting with data fusion and being able to gain insights to where I'll go back to where I think the changing character works, privileging speed. If we're going to do things with speed, and have access to massive amounts of data, the ability to have algorithms that develop the tools, whether it be the neural networks that help support those analysts do what only the humans can do, which is make that human decision. That's here right now as well. And I hate to keep repeating what Secretary Kendall said in the previous panel, but it was on AI, and I think it's it's informative here, in that as we are developing these collaborative combat aircraft, which are going to be integral into our force design.
Jim Scuitto: How soon?
Gen. David Allvin: Well, and I'm only repeating my Secretary, by the end of this FYDP and you should see aircraft, uncrewed aircraft, and the integration. We can no longer do things serially though so at the same time, as we work we are put into the ’24 budget and beyond the money for the platform. We also separately have stood up an experimental operations unit because you can't just buy the weapon system then after it's done, you field it, and you sort it out later. At the same time, we are partnering with others on an experimental operations unit to figure out how to actually employment that. Because when we think about it, it's it's different. If you don't have to fly it, would you maintain it differently? There are all sorts of things that are that are implied, the advantages of having uncrewed systems, paired with crewed systems. But the third part to the point about AI is we are actually have a test program now that we are reinvigorating on the autonomy itself. It's called Project Venom, and it's being it's designed to understand what the AI can do. So as we're going to have these inevitable policy decisions about what should we let AI do, what is the legal, ethical, etc. We should at least have some framework about what we think it can do, and the advantages of it so we can make some better decisions on that. And so we are leaning headlong into it for the future. But there are also elements that technology exists today. That just makes us do things faster and more for efficient.
Jim Scuitto: Admiral and Jim, I want to ask where you see it where you are, but before I just just because General brought up the question of regulation and limitation how do we manage? How do we keep the humans involved? Right? Is Congress on top of that? Are you having discussions at the committee level to write laws that can keep up with the technology?
Rep. Ken Calvert: That's a great question. The problem is that you know, the technology really has been developed in the private sector. And by foreign players, China's not going to slow down the development of artificial intelligence. Our adversaries are going to move ahead as rapidly as they possibly can. So we ought to make sure that we don't have unintended consequences. I think that the industry recognizes that, but at the same time, that horse is out of the barn, and we are developing artificial intelligence for various things, as we sit here. And it's moving very rapidly. But we need to do everything we possibly can to make sure that we don't have the unintended consequences that many people in industry and others have brought up.
Jim Taiclet: And given the horse is out of the barn in reality here, to try to regulate AI in the traditional sense isn’t possible or feasible or wise, probably. But having framework and standards around how AI is developed and then employed is feasible. The Department of Defense already has a set of principles around that. We just adopted those internally in our company, but we have every program that has an AI component of it, which is now most of them has to go through an AI ethics committee review to make sure that the source data is appropriate to make sure that the outcomes are auditable and untestable, so you don't have this machine running wild and the outcome you can't predict. So there are principles of ways to do this. And when it comes to crewed, uncrewed teaming or combat collaborative aircraft, I and many others in this room have been Air Force or Navy or Marine pilots in the past, and you're pretty busy in the cockpit, right? So AI will enable you to have the wingman intelligence that you would have in a human, ultimately, in your own aircraft. And that's where we need to go. But the first stage of that will be with a collaborative combat aircraft. So let's say there's two per jet, two per F-35, for example. Well you get a radar warning signal in your ear, which means you've got a missile locked on your jet. You've got these two wingmen. What the AI initially will be able to do is put on your cockpit screen four choices in order of what again, the AI thinks that the best decisions for you. You click on one and that one decision might be drone two goes behind you and takes the missile or drone one turns on its EW in a certain way that diverts the missile. But we have to be able to keep the human involved in the decision making and just make that decision maker as you said, General, faster and more accurate. And that will be the value of AI that's how you can use it.
Jim Scuitto: Because I was gonna ask what the interface was. Is it a voice in your ear like the movie Her or is it is it so you're saying it's a drop down menu is that?
Jim Taiclet: That will probably be the first iteration of this. But eventually you'll want the drone to be able to act like a human and that's another couple of generations out there. That's general intelligence AI, and that's another step in the future. But you can give human pilots choices outside their own aircraft that they're hand controlling.
Jim Scuitto, : Until that drone is like I'm not gonna take that missile for you. I'm gonna, I want to make it home today.
Jim Taiclet: Controllability is one of the standards, by the way, that you can control the behavior.
Jim Scuitto: I’m sure that screenplay has already been written.
Jim Taiclet: Yeah, definitely.
Jim Scuitto: So first of all, where is AI already in your space and are you, the Navy, does it have standards in place already that it follows? Is developing them and constantly updating them as the technology changes?
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: Well, I think we’re in the same boat as everyone else is this technology is developing. It's a it's an iterative and a learning process as we go along. I think you know, as we talked about earlier, and as you just mentioned, it's really about how do you free up, you know, the human from some of those more mundane tasks that it can AI can process it can provide them fused information. So the person can be the one, you know, using that cognitive power to make the decisions that they need to do and again, that will speed up everything we're able to do.
Jim Scuitto: Sorry, it sounds like you wanted to pipe in there too.
Gen. David Allvin: I totally agree, but it's not only the mundane, but it's also there are things that, humans fatigue, and it might be might be mundane, but it's also more precise.
Jim Scuitto: I promised at around 10 minutes and even a little earlier, I'm going to go to some audience questions because they've been coming in and this is one brought up only very briefly before and that is quantum computing. The question or ask the next phase of disruptive technology will include quantum computing, which is being developed by China as its disruptive technological strategies. How do you see quantum computing fit into pioneering warfare? I'll allow a volunteer to jump in on that.
Rep. Ken Calvert: Well, I suspect that China is trying to develop their own quantum technologies and others are doing the same. I can't get into it too much, but it it obviously is extremely important that does change the landscape, the first country that comes to quantum computing, there's going to have a significant advantage. So without saying a lot. I think that we're doing what we need to do to try to get there and other countries are and also so hopefully we're ahead of that and that we will prevail.
Jim Taiclet: There’s an obvious use case in encryption and breaking encryption. But there are other others as well, which are more tangible I'll say. So when it comes to hypersonic defense, a hypersonic missile is a maneuverable-ballistic missile that makes it extremely difficult to defend against. But if you have quantum computing, and you have the right sensors, and you have the right network connection at the broadband speeds you need, you could actually calculate the likely path of a hypersonic missile and its end game and defeat it. Without quantum computing, it may be a very difficult thing to do. So there are real world situations where quantum will be important.
Jim Scuitto: Just, you bring up hypersonic missiles and I thought occurred to me and maybe this is question for you, General, that there had been some thinking that you know, Russia has at least claimed to make progress there and they've deployed some. Seem to have used some in Ukraine. But I believe I've heard that that Ukrainian air defenses have responded better to those than expected. Is that less of a threat that because, again, we all certainly in the media as well. You focus on a threat at a time and there will be a great fear focused on that threat for a time and then sometimes it'll pass away and that was one we're in the early stages of the war. Where does that stand in terms of competition now?
Gen. David Allvin,: I think when the first one was launched, there was sort of a little quiet cheer when it was saying we were able to respond to it, that the French were able to respond to it. However, I think one can't extract too much from that because was it was an immature technology? Was a poor execution? The fact remains that technology continues to advance and just the speed maneuverability, puts more complexity on the battle space. So, we sometimes we jokingly say hypersonics is the technology of the future and always will be. I think that that those days have passed. And I think we're to the point now where there's the fielding and it becomes more and more of a challenge and we're gonna see the complexity of the battle space. So I I actually would, wouldn't take too much from that other than to say it could have been worse.
Jim Scuitto: Congressman, I gotta send this what your way because it relates to Congress. Modernization requires money. A budget and authorization services may want to move with speed, but right now Congress is slowing things down. How risky is that? I'll leave that there because I've got a follow up for you.
Rep. Ken Calvert: But the reality is 30 years ago, our mandatory spending problem isn’t what it is today. It is now taking up 70% of all outlays and 30 years ago, 70% of our spending was discretionary. And so it's eating up all the discretionary budgeting process. So that's why we have to economize as much as we have. Defense spending, as a percentage of GDP has continued to decline to the now to the lowest level it has been since the post World War II. And so the challenge that we have is in a situation where we have a 32 trillion dollar debt. You all know the numbers. Ongoing mandatory spending problem is how do we maintain a strong national defense and pay for it? And that's the mathematics that we have to go through. That's why we need as a country to come to a budget agreement on mandatory spending at some point and get control over that. To slow down the rate of increase, come to an agreement on that. For we don't end up destroying our national defense budget and all the other budgets that are in the discretionary side of the ledger. So it's a big challenge and time is not on our side.
Jim Scuitto: Do the services look to Congress with concern as a result of that problematic budgetary process? If we can call it that.
Gen. David Allvin: We go through the same angst, year over year, and I think as we look at what can we do as a service, what can we do I you know, I'm sure same same for Lisa and all the other services but understanding that that is out of our true control other than to show the facts, show the data and show you the value proposition of what we're seeking the resources for. And I will say as an aside to that with that is a box within which we need to work. You know, Congressman Calvert said at the very beginning that the fact that we get many old Reagan-era things that we’re still flying, what we need to do is make the case for how and why we will mitigate the risk of the old being gone before the new comes on. And I think that that's a challenge we need to continue to show. And one of the ways that we do that, which is a conversation that could go on for well beyond the time is the innovation that exists within our airmen, across the board. Where they are helping us understand ways that we can take the the equipment that we have now, that was not built for this environment, and start to adapt it because they're the ones on that equipment and knowing how you can make it more adaptable to the environment within which we think we're going to need it. That helps buy down the risk, while we're trying to get the resources. But it still is it's a pretty wicked problem right now and I haven't been in the budget process my whole career but this is this is challenging as we've seen and given the threat.
Jim Scuitto: That raises an issue question, Admiral, perhaps it’s to you. Do you recruit a different kind of person for this kind of environment? Do you look for different qualities? I mean, obviously there are different jobs, different MOS is across the board. But But moving fast. I'm sure, engineers, mathematicians, and computer programmers are, at it certainly for the private sector as well, are at a premium.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: I think that's a great question and that is something I know we're definitely looking at and we've just recently finished one of our futures wargames. And you know, if you think about the future in 20 years, the people that are in the Navy now are going to be fighting whatever happens and 20 years from now, and so what are those people need to look like as we're bringing more people in and we recruit across that whole broad fabric of America? I think it's really important to think hard about do we need new ratings, do we need a robotics rating? You know, what are the kind of skill sets that we need to be developing? So we have those people that are comfortable operating, you mentioned, you know, the trust that would have to happen between you know, the pilot with an unmanned or uncrewed air wing with him. I think this is really important to think about people that will be able to adapt that new technology and have that innovative creative spirit going forward.
Gen. David Allvin: I would agree with that. I think when we talk about the airmen in our case that we need into the future, that goes hand in hand with the force design, if you're going to have a force as part of its design, in which you are going to leverage the fact that you may learn something on one sortie that you want to apply to the next sortie, to inject that particular software into a capability. You might want to have software coders out at the tactical edge. We didn't think about that before. So understanding the human capital that we're going to need and I think STEM is a big part of that. But I will tell you Jim, right now, just unleashing the innovative spirit of our Airmen. We have 103 of these things called spark cells across that we that we give them the voice and give them a very small bit of resources but actually the empowerment to come up with solutions on how we can make the things that we have today work better in the environment is paid tomorrow. It is amazing. And that's a positive.
Jim Scuitto: Can you find those people in the private sector you as you're looking to innovate?
Jim Taiclet: We've been pretty successful because the technologies we work on are pretty advanced, and are attractive. We also recruit from a wide range of colleges and universities, all the way to high schools and do apprenticeships. So we've had 4% attrition I think over last year, which is less than half any industry average. So I think our industry is healthy. When it comes to manpower and womanpower. But we need to keep advancing on those really difficult skill sets like AI data scientists and things like that. That is another really compelling reason to partner with the tech industry because they can pay the rates that data scientists deserves these days. And if I can get them on my team, I just give you one quick example we have a team with Intel, Microsoft, Verizon, IBM, and NVIDIA working on the application of digital technology into mission sets that we've defined with the services where the gaps are, and we're getting access to some of their very best people and their very best technology. And I was joking about with CNO a little bit earlier. One of the CEOs of the tech company said we like working with you because your problems are easier than ours. And I asked him, What do you mean he goes, I've got to figure out how to do a network that will control 100 million autonomous land vehicles someday, and you're just trying to keep an airplane and two drones together. So let's work on that first. And they are going to learn with us and that's why they're investing with us to do this.
Jim Scuitto: Because we only have well we have less than three minutes. I thought just since this is a tech focused new technology focused conversation. We'll just run down the line. What what is the new weapon system you're most excited about? Or perhaps most fearful of today?
Gen. David Allvin: Ours is easy. Mine is easy. It's the clever combat aircraft because I do believe the future is going to be about human machine teaming, getting that human machine teaming, optimizing the performance and being able to operate at speed. And we think that investment in our collaborative combat aircraft program is going to be what's going to get us there.
Jim Scuitto: Congressman?
Rep. Ken Calvert: It may be some technology that we're not even aware of yet. That we're coming up. Two years ago if we were sitting here today, who would have thought that the drone technology had gone as far as it has as of today. And we weren't even talking about a loyal wingman or crewless planes just a few years ago and same thing we ships. So we need to stay on top of that innovation and accept that innovation. We've become risk averse in the military I think and that has to change. And the culture has to change in order to accept these new technologies that we're not aware of today and and to make sure that ones we are aware of as we put in the battlefield as soon as possible.
Jim Scuitto: The pace is just incredible. Admiral?
Adm. Lisa Franchetti: And certainly, you know excited about all the new capabilities we have coming down in our manned platforms. But as we stand up this Disruptive Capabilities Office, that's where I'm really excited about finding some of these great partnerships we can have with industry, with people that can bring new ideas on how to close some of these gaps and use some of the initiatives with replicator or other things with DIU to get some of these things in competition, get them tested out and then get them out to our warfighters as soon as possible. That's what I'm excited about.
Jim Taiclet: The biggest opportunity, scariest threat, offensive and defensive cyber.
Jim Scuitto: And that's a whole that's a whole conversation in its own. I didn't get to ask all my UAP questions, which is what I think really would have gotten the conversation going, talk privately with you exactly who will but there'll be a pull aside later. Thanks so much. CEO, Admiral, Congressman, General, to all of you. Thanks so much. Thank you.
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