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Speed, Integration Needed to Deter China, Russia, Vice Chairman Says

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Peer competitors China and Russia are modernizing their militaries at an astonishingly rapid rate, much faster than the Defense Department, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said during a virtual address at the McAleese FY2022 Defense Programs conference.

Marines fire a weapon in a desert-like area.
Antitank Aim
Marines fire an M72A7 light antitank weapon during training in Kuwait, Sept. 3, 2020.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andrew Skiver
VIRIN: 200903-M-GW555-1636M

"The character of war is changing now in unbelievable ways at an unbelievable pace. And that speed of change is, I think, one of the biggest challenges for us because we have to figure out how to put speed back in everything that we do. And right now the Department of Defense is not good at speed. What we're good at is executing," Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said today.

Acquisition is a particular area that needs more speed, he added.

With speed comes a certain amount of risk, he said.

"Many people in our enterprise still like being very deliberate and taking no risks, and making sure we understand everything before we move forward. We like to make sure that every test works, and we don't test until we're sure that it's going to work. We can't do that kind of business anymore. We have to be able to go forward, which means we have to give that responsibility to much younger people in our formation."

– Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff

The nature of warfare is changing in radical ways that create an enormous challenge and also an enormous opportunity, he said, mentioning unmanned air, ground and sea vehicles, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Americans are the best in the world at innovation. If DOD leverages industry and academia talent, Hyten said he's confident that the department will excel in these and other areas.

Seamless integration of the joint force in all domains — sea, land, air, space and cyberspace — is also critical to deterring adversaries and winning wars, if necessary, he said.

An unmanned ground vehicle stands on the floor.
Unmanned Ground Vehicle
A Quad-legged Unmanned Ground Vehicle is displayed during an all call at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., April 20, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Dastas
VIRIN: 210420-F-FN051-1181M
Sailors work on a small boat.
Sea Ops
Sailors with the Commander, Task Force 56 retrieve a Mark 18 Mod 2 underwater unmanned vehicle during training aboard a Mark VI patrol boat in the Persian Gulf, May 5, 2021.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Collins III
VIRIN: 210505-N-VG727-1147M

Improved integration with allies and partners also is critical, and a lot more work needs to be done in that area, he said.

Hyten also mentioned the importance of modernizing the nuclear triad, meaning submarines, bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

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