Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon provided the following readout:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks held a classified meeting with the executive officers of the Department's eight largest prime contractors today at the Pentagon to discuss the National Defense Strategy (NDS), the status of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), supply chain resilience, and workforce concerns.
Deputy Secretary Hicks was joined by Dr. William LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment; Ms. Heidi Shyu, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Dr. Mara Karlin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities; and Ms. Deborah Rosenblum, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs, and Performing the Duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy.
The industry attendees included executives from Boeing Defense, Space & Security; L3Harris Technologies; Raytheon Technologies; BAE Systems; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Huntington Ingalls Industries; General Dynamics; and Northrop Grumman.
Deputy Secretary Hicks underscored the deep and longstanding relationship between the Department of Defense and America's defense industrial base. She reinforced the Department's strategic competition priorities under the National Defense Strategy, which require sustained industry engagement and support to address critical needs in the near- mid- and long-term.
Industry attendees asked questions and provided comments focused on accelerating weapons development and production and building more capacity across the industrial base for producing weapons and equipment – to include workforce challenges caused by an exceptionally challenging jobs market, caused by low unemployment.
Across the defense acquisition, commercial industry, and organic industrial base workforces, the Department is working with its partners to invest in recruiting, retaining, and adapting the workforce so the full spectrum of the defense ecosystem will be able to leverage advanced manufacturing techniques and a highly-skilled labor pool when producing innovative capabilities.
Since 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks have engaged with hundreds of industry and technology leaders as a part of a persistent, open communication strategy to advance the Department's understanding of the U.S. innovation ecosystem, industry priorities and challenges, and better-prepare the United States to face the national security challenges of the 21st century.