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Immediate Release

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Visits U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet

Attributable to Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon:

Today in Hawaii, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks visited U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith, and U.S. Pacific Fleet (USPACFLEET) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to meet with Admiral John C. Aquilino and other senior leaders for a series of discussions on USINDOPACOM's progress toward implementing the U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS), and observe experiments designed to accelerate progress toward Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2)across the Department.

She was accompanied by a contingent of Hawaii lawmakers, which included U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono and U.S. Representative Ed Case.

During a morning session, USINDOPACOM leaders updated the Deputy Secretary on the command's approach to implement the NDS via a robust theater posture; building warfighter capabilities and resiliency; building technologically superior capabilities to maintain warfighting advantages in the near, mid, and long-term; and building stronger relationships with Allies, partners, and friends.

During this session, Deputy Secretary Hicks reaffirmed that the Department of Defense (DoD) is laser-focused on tackling the security challenge of the PRC—in lockstep with our partners around the world and in Congress, and thanked the forces across USINDOPACOM for their leadership on efforts to strengthen U.S. force posture and deepen alliances and partnerships. 

Later that morning, she observed demonstrations of two key USINDOPACOM investments related to the Pacific Deterrence Initiative: Pacific Multi-Domain Test and Experimentation Capability (PMTEC) and Multi-Partner Environment (MPE). These investments are designed to deepen collaboration and improve information-sharing among allies and partners.

She also observed programs designed to accelerate technological development. In combination with DoD's Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER), the Deputy Secretary observed programs where software pipelines are being combined with a multi-level security DevOps environment to enable rapid on-boarding and evolution of capabilities from the military services, CJADC2, cross-functional teams, the Pentagon, and the intelligence community. 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Deputy Secretary Hicks created the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) to facilitate more rapid modernization through a campaign of experimentation. RDER initiated its first round of experimentation at Northern Edge 23 and Technology Readiness Experimentation 23 (T-REX 23) in May/June 2023. Both experimentation venues are continuing technical and operational assessments through experimentation at Northern Edge 23-2 in July, Grey Flag in August, and T-REX 23-2 in September. Results from RDER 23-1 will be presented to the Deputy Secretary later this year to help support acquisitions decisions.

Equipment currently being tested through these exercises includes systems to enhance the portability of secure communications, improve communications security, improve maritime communications, provide real-time language translation, and confuse enemy sensors and equipment.

She also met with USINDOPACOM's AI and Data Accelerator (ADA) operational data team. ADA is an initiative Deputy Secretary Hicks developed and launched in June 2021, with “flyaway” teams embedded in all 11 combatant commands to help streamline and automate workflows through the integration of AI and tackle data challenges across the Department. The INDOPACOM team is the largest of all of the Combatant Command ADA teams. 

During her two-day visit, Deputy Secretary Hicks will engage with lawmakers and military officials on a broad span of topics related to U.S. force presence in Hawaii, and National Defense Strategy implementation. On day two of her visit, the Deputy Secretary will visit the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, meet with troops, and continue her discussions on rapid innovation and security in the Indo-Pacific region.