Before Stepping Down, Lynn Assesses ‘Signature’ Issues
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2011 Since taking office Feb. 12, 2009, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III has championed several issues, among them cybersecurity, energy, space and the defense industrial base.
Following a speech today at the Center for American Progress here, Lynn discussed those areas and his Defense Department service with Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters. Today is Lynn’s last day in office; Ashton B. Carter will be sworn in tomorrow as the 31st deputy defense secretary.
Lynn noted that the Defense Department has this year developed and published strategies for both cybersecurity and space.
“I think in cybersecurity, the central challenge is [developing] the partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, and through Homeland Security with the private sector, to ensure that critical infrastructure sectors – the transportation grid, the power grid, the financial networks – are at the appropriate level of protection, given their importance to the national economy and national security,” the deputy secretary said.
The most important development in space is the increasing international presence there, Lynn said. While during the Cold War two superpowers dominated the domain, he noted, more than 60 nations now vie for territory there.
“The U.S. still relies heavily on space for its technological edge in the military, but it’s a much more crowded environment,” he said. “We need to adjust our strategy to reflect that environment.”
DOD shares the nation’s approach to renewable energy in two areas, but has a uniquely military concern as well, Lynn said.
“It’s part of lowering carbon footprints, it’s part of a green initiative President [Barack] Obama is stressing, and it’s going to make the planet safer,” he said. “Second, energy efficiency saves money, and given the fiscal times we’re in, anything that saves money is something we’re interested in as a department.”
From a military perspective, Lynn observed, renewable energy also saves lives.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, convoys routinely traversed dangerous territory to get fuel to the troops, he noted.
“If we can reduce the number of convoys by reducing the amount of fuel consumed, we can save lives,” he said. “That is the most important driver of a new operational energy strategy.”
During his tenure as deputy secretary, Lynn has advocated strengthening the U.S. defense industrial base by increasing competition and opening up foreign markets. He sees improvement in both those areas, he said today.
“On a governmentwide basis, President Obama has been stressing export reform,” he said. “We have a system now that’s, frankly, archaic. It’s built on a Cold War model, and the result of it is we seem to have a system that’s designed to keep equipment from our closest allies, even those that we’re fighting next to. And it isn’t really protecting critical technology.”
He added DOD is part of a governmentwide effort to make U.S. defense industries more competitive by putting higher walls around a “critical few” systems, while making many others available for international sale.
The other major DOD initiative is a “sector-by-sector, tier-by-tier review of the industrial base,” the deputy secretary said.
DOD’s goal in the review, he added, is to ensure as department leaders make budget decisions, they understand the impact of those choices on industry.
With that knowledge, “if we need to, we can adjust to protect critical sectors or critical capabilities,” he added.
Lynn said the DOD workforce he has served with is “second to none.”
“We’re a nation at war,” the deputy secretary said. “That’s tough not only on the troops and their families, but … on the supporting personnel, the defense civilians, as well. We’re requiring longer hours, and it’s a tougher mission, and they have measured up in every way.”