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Immediate Release

Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks Meets With Service Members, Researchers, and Academia Near Los Angeles

Department of Defense Spokesman Eric Pahon provided the following readout: 

Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks visited Los Angeles, California, today to meet with service members, space-industry small businesses and start-ups; and faculty, students and researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). 

At SpaceWERX, Dr. Hicks met with approximately 15 space-industry small businesses, start-ups, and accelerators to hear about their experiences working with the department. During the discussion, the deputy secretary expressed the importance DoD places on its relationships with small companies and start-ups who are driving the development of new technologies. She heard about the challenges small businesses can face bridging the gap between innovation and adoption, often called the “valley of death,” and the desire to work with DoD to reduce acquisition timelines in order to more rapidly field advanced technology to warfighters.
 
At Los Angeles Air Force Base, Deputy Secretary Hicks met with base leadership, spoke with service members about their role in national defense priorities and honored outstanding airmen. She also heard from Galaxy program leaders about their unique approach to workforce development. Galaxy is the U.S. Space Force’s professional development experience for both junior military and civilian acquisition professionals at Space Systems Command. Members are immersed in a six-month professional development program exposing them to key stakeholders across the department, Allies and partners, and commercial sector, to train military innovators and solve warfighter challenges.
 
During her visit to Caltech, Deputy Secretary Hicks heard from faculty and students on their research in fields like quantum science, climate and sustainability, space, and autonomy, all critical to U.S. economic and national security and DoD technology priorities. During her engagement, Dr. Hicks emphasized the importance of partnerships with universities and reaffirmed U.S. academic leadership, the future workforce, and careers in national security.

At the NASA and Caltech Jet Propulsion Lab, Deputy Secretary Hicks visited the Space Flight Operations Facility (mission control) and the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover operations room, where she was briefed on the Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Helicopter projects. She also discussed interagency approaches to research, investments, and innovation workforce. 

Throughout her travel to California, Deputy Secretary Hicks has highlighted increases in DoD’s budget for research and development and described the Department’s modernization approach, which is focused on working closely with partners in the innovation ecosystem, like universities, to drive basic research. Dr. Hicks also said DoD is working to become a fast-follower of commercial sector advances, while driving investments in DoD-unique requirements, like artificial intelligence and machine learning.