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Carter Receives First Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Award

Jan. 12, 2017 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

Defense Secretary Ash Carter received the inaugural Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize at the Center for Strategic and International Studies headquarters here yesterday.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks with John J. Hamre, the president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize and Lecture at CSIS headquarters in Washington, Jan. 11, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks with John J. Hamre, the president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize and Lecture at CSIS headquarters in Washington, Jan. 11, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks with John J. Hamre, the president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize and Lecture at CSIS headquarters in Washington, Jan. 11, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Carter Receves Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize
Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks with John J. Hamre, the president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize and Lecture at CSIS headquarters in Washington, Jan. 11, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Photo By: Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
VIRIN: 170111-D-SV709-814

The secretary expressed his gratitude to the many defense and foreign policy legends in attendance, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter; and Henry Kissinger, former national security advisor and secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Carter singled out former Sen. Sam Nunn and his contributions to the Defense Department, calling him “a serious and studious steward of our national defense in the last decades of the Cold War,” as a senator and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman.

“Sam was a leader in strengthening and reforming the Pentagon,” he said. “And in the years since, he has been a true statesman, helping guide America’s relationship with the world, particularly on nuclear weapons.”

Nunn demonstrated that defense is so vital, he noted, “that we, to whom it is entrusted, must ensure its continuity and excellence across the years and across the domains of armed conflict -- not just sea and air and land, but also in space, and cyberspace -- across our government, across parties, from presidential administration to presidential administration … and also from strategic era to strategic era,” the defense secretary said.

Defense During Strategic Transition

In his speech, titled “Defense at a time of Strategic Transition,” Carter said DoD is making a corresponding transition from an era dominated by more than a decade of skillful but all-absorbing counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigns, to “one where we must contend with a wider range of strategic problems.”

DoD today faces five distinct and evolving challenges, the defense secretary said; Russian aggression and coercion, the Asia-Pacific rebalance, strengthening U.S. deterrence and defense forces as North Korea continues nuclear and missile provocations, monitoring Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf, and helping allies in the Middle East while executing the accelerated campaign to deliver a lasting defeat to the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“All the while, the Defense Department is also preparing to contend with an uncertain future -- ensuring our military is ready for challenges we may not anticipate today,” he added.

Tech Advancements Critical to Future

“Today, ours is the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” Carter said. “There’s no other military that’s stronger, more capable, more experienced, or frankly, more innovative. But that’s not a birthright, and … We can’t take it for granted in the 21st century. … we have to invest and innovate for the uncertain future we face.”

The defense secretary emphasized his initiatives for DoD personnel to think outside of the Pentagon to ensure its technology, plans, organization, and people remain the best for future decades.

“We’ve made the decisions and investments to ensure DoD maintains our dominance in every domain, not just sea, air and land, but also in space and cyberspace,” he said. “We’re also pushing the envelope with research and development to stay ahead of our competitors and at technology’s frontier, by putting nearly $72 billion dollars into [research and development] this next year.”

The secretary outlined how the Pentagon has been “building and rebuilding bridges” with America’s technology community, with one avenue being DoD’s newly created Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental -- or DIUx -- to help connect with startups and other commercial tech firms in Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, Texas and other cities.

“Those outposts are already producing results: DIUx has interacted with companies in over 30 states to help us adopt technologies more quickly that can help our warfighters accomplish their missions,” Carter explained.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter (center) receives the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize from Sam Nunn (left), former Senator and Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and John J. Hamre (right), president and CEO of CSIS, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 11, 2017. DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, receives the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize from Sam Nunn, left, former senator and Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and John J. Hamre, right, president and CEO of CSIS, in Washington, Jan. 11, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Defense Secretary Ash Carter (center) receives the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize from Sam Nunn (left), former Senator and Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and John J. Hamre (right), president and CEO of CSIS, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 11, 2017. DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Carter Honors
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, receives the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize from Sam Nunn, left, former senator and Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and John J. Hamre, right, president and CEO of CSIS, in Washington, Jan. 11, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Photo By: Amber I. Smith
VIRIN: 170111-D-SV709-736

“We will always need our traditional defense partners to help us build our planes, tanks, and ships, but DIUx will better connect the Pentagon to a whole new world of American innovation. That’s an investment worth making,” he said.

Operational Innovations

Also innovating operationally, DoD’s core contingency plans are constantly being changed to apply innovation to its operational approaches, the secretary said, which includes ways to overcome emerging threats such as anti-satellite weapons or hybrid warfare, Carter noted, adding, “We’re also building in modularity, planning in new ways for overlapping contingencies, and injecting agility and flexibility into our war plans.”

Reforms also are under way across DoD to streamline headquarters operations, lower health care costs, continually improve the acquisition process among others, the secretary said.

He said he established the Defense Innovation Board to ensure DoD remains a place where “thinking boldly and differently is fostered,” and member recommendations have already led DoD to create a chief innovation officer to act as a senior advisor to the defense secretary.

Force of the Future

The secretary said building the Force of the Future will also ensure that amid generational, technological, and labor market changes, “we continue to attract and retain and develop the most-talented people America has to offer.”

For that, he added, DoD must be able to draw from 100 percent of the American population, and to compete for the best, it must select the best based solely on qualifications to meet the department’s high standards -- not race, gender, identity or sexual orientation -- but rather whether people can meet the standards.

Carter said that it’s the people of the Defense Department -- nearly 3 million uniformed and civilian personnel -- that make him proud as they serve across the country and around the clock, “in every time zone on earth, in every domain -- in the air, ashore, afloat, and even in cyberspace -- all in service of this great nation,” he noted.

“Because DoD is changing, adapting and innovating, and because of our nation’s enduring strengths,” Carter said, “I’m sure that the future is bright and full of opportunities for our country to seize.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)