Attributable to Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks traveled to Tampa, Florida, today for visits to U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) headquarters and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) headquarters.
In the morning, she met with USCENTCOM Commander Army Gen. Erik Kurilla to receive an update on National Defense Strategy (NDS) implementation and Middle East posture.
Deputy Secretary Hicks then attended a round table discussion with USCENTCOM leaders to discuss the command's strategic approach of "people, partners, and innovation" – intended to prepare for the future through investing in people, deepening security partnerships, and accelerating the development of innovative warfighting solutions.
They also discussed USCENTCOM efforts to deliver advances in innovation and modernization to support warfighters, to include the CENTCOM Innovation Oasis – a program which solicits innovative ideas from CENTCOM servicemembers and civilians to help develop new tech-based solutions, policy revisions, and processes.
The deputy secretary noted USCENTCOM's 40th anniversary and extended her appreciation for the servicemembers and civilians who have served in the command over the decades.
In the afternoon, Deputy Secretary Hicks traveled to USSOCOM headquarters, where she first had lunch with USSOCOM and USCENTCOM troops and civilians. During the lunch, the deputy secretary thanked attendees for their dedication to the U.S. national security mission, and led an open and honest discussion of the issues which most affect our servicemembers, civilians, and their propensity to serve.
She then met with USSOCOM Commander Army Gen. Bryan Fenton to receive an update on current operations, how the command is aligning its resources to implement the NDS, and how USSOCOM is integrating technology to support its warfighters' needs.
In a follow-on round table session, Deputy Secretary Hicks, Gen. Fenton, and other USSOCOM senior leaders further discussed NDS implementation, technology acquisition and innovation, and the special role special operations forces contribute to integrated deterrence.
They also discussed USSOCOM's efforts to foster an environment where high-performing people can thrive, by embracing diversity, equity and inclusion as an operational imperative to optimize special operations forces for evolving missions and environments. USSOCOM leaders also briefed the deputy secretary on progress toward improving organizational climate and culture while improving servicemember and family health and readiness.
Visits like this are valuable to the department's senior leaders to receive first-hand feedback on the effects of policy at the combatant command and warfighter level. This is part of a constant effort to synchronize with battlefield commanders and servicemembers to ensure department policy is effectively shaped and implemented to best support America's national defense needs.