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DOD Budget Request Focused on Innovations for Warfighter, Hicks Says

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The fiscal year 2022 budget request reflect the pacing threat from China, as well as threats from Russia, North Korea, Iran, transnational challenges and climate change, to name a few, the deputy defense secretary said.

Kathleen H. Hicks spoke virtually from the Pentagon today at a Defense One Tech Summit.

The budget request includes a lot of joint concept work within the services, she said. "There's lots of experimentation going on across the department. There's also lots of innovation going on across the department."

A small drone sits on the ground.
Ghost Drone
A Modular Ghost Drone is displayed before a flight demonstration on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California, March 24, 2021. The drone is part of the collaboration between MCAS Miramar and NavalX’s SoCal Tech Bridge, which enables the station to utilize the artificial-intelligence-enabled, autonomous drone to further strengthen the base’s security and force protection capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cheng Chang)
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cheng Chang
VIRIN: 210325-M-KE294-073

Hicks provided a few examples.

The Defense Department is moving from concepts to capabilities in its artificial intelligence and data accelerator initiative, she said.

"Teams will go out within the next 90 days to every single combatant command and start to tie in their data, and they'll also have technical expert teams on AI and they'll start looking at how to bring AI and data to the tactical edge in support of the warfighter," she said.

The joint all-domain command and control is another big endeavor that involves innovation from all of the services, she said, adding that to bring it to fruition will require a cloud enterprise solution.

China relies on civil-military fusion, targeting government funding on civilian research related to military applications, Hicks said. 

Close up of hand putting plug into radio.
Radio Plug
Joint terminal attack controllers from the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, control aircraft during Exercise Bold Quest 20.2 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, Oct. 24, 2020. Led by the Joint Staff, Bold Quest is a multinational exercise that demonstrates a joint capability to link sensors to shooters across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Joel Pfiester
VIRIN: 201024-F-PD075-0010

The U.S. uses a different model, which she termed "collaborative disruption." That model involves collaboration between private sector research institutions, commercial industry and government labs, and uses seed money from the government to fund critical technologies. Hicks said the U.S. model is much more innovative.

Hicks also noted that the budget request also prioritizes nuclear modernization, space capabilities and cybersecurity.

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