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Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Remarks and Fireside Chat at the 2024 National Security Innovation Base Summit Hosted by the Reagan Foundation in Washington, D.C.

STAFF: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Policy Director of the Ronald Reagan Institute, Rachel Hoff.

RACHEL HOFF: Thank you so much. As we come to the close of our program today, we're so grateful to everyone who's participated in our second annual summit on the National Security Innovation Base, both to those of you who have joined us here in person and to everyone who's been watching online.

It's been a productive day of discussions with leaders from across the NSIB landscape. We've tackled some of the most important issues facing the NSIB ecosystem in the innovation race. Many of those challenges start here at home. We've heard from our speakers today about the atrophy of our domestic manufacturing capabilities, about supply chain risks and vulnerabilities, and about the corrosive effect of budget uncertainty.

Meanwhile, the global threat environment we face hasn't been this dire since the Cold War. With active conflict in Europe and the Middle East, and the forces of authoritarianism in China, Russia, and Iran, banding together to overturn U.S. leadership and neutralize our military and our military advantage. We all know that technology sits at the heart of this competition. But as our adversaries pour massive amounts of state-directed funding toward their efforts, they lack the key ingredient that has propelled U.S. leadership since our founding, the dynamism of a free and open system enriched by American ingenuity.

In the face of these challenges and to maximize our strengths, what our nation needs is a strategist who also has deep experience converting strategy into the defense program. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks is one of those leaders. In her role at the Pentagon, she's worked to make innovation a central focus rather than a side project.

She's introduced groundbreaking initiatives like Replicator to upend the way the department does business and guide the DOD toward capability rather than convention. It's a privilege to have Doctor Hicks here with us today to deliver the keynote address at our NSIB Summit. Following her remarks, she'll join Reagan Institute Director Roger Zakheim on stage for a moderated conversation, and that'll close our conference.

Without further ado, please join me in welcoming the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE KATHLEEN HICKS: Thank you to Rachel and good afternoon to everyone here. I really want to just tell you that by hosting this summit, the Reagan Institute is doing an incredible job helping to bring attention to the importance of the defense industrial base, which is a mission I think we can all get on board with. 

Whether in DoD or Congress or beyond, we all have a responsibility to foster a broad national security innovation base. New entrants are vital to that mission, but so too is the health of longstanding partners in the defense industrial base. And I often speak to the former, but today I’d like to focus some of my remarks on the latter.

So to all of those, you who build things primarily for the military, or even that only the military needs, I want to say thank you, and we need you in our innovation base: from aircraft carriers, destroyers, and nuclear submarines, to stealth bombers, tanks, and troop carriers, and machine guns, missiles, and more. 

And I’m not only talking about the prime contractors that so often serve as our large-system integrators. I’m also talking about thousands of sub-tier suppliers, many of them small businesses, in communities all over America. 

The military and the industrial base are mutually dependent. Without warfighter demand and taxpayer dollars, the U.S. defense industry as we know it could not exist. And without the capabilities that industry provides to support America’s security, then America as we know it would cease to exist.

So we’re in this together. Because wars are fought by militaries, but they are won by nations. 

Now, part of being a capitalist system means that businesses should be able to make a fair profit, provided that the customer is getting what they paid for. 

Indeed, as we’ve seen with the People’s Republic of China, alternative systems are often rife with corruption, riddled with inefficiency, and better at stealing intellectual property than generating it. 

Because ingenuity and creativity thrive the most when they’re enabled and surrounded by free minds, free markets, and free people — not when they’re forced to toe the party line. 

In the context of this system, the U.S. defense industrial base has typically traced the ebb and flow of peacetime and wartime: mobilizations, demobilizations, buildups, surges, and peace dividends.

A key trend today is disruption: a new generation of defense-tech startups and scale-ups. And that’s welcomed, we should all welcome that, because competition is good for the taxpayer and good for the warfighter, too. 

Think about it: if you’re downrange in some austere location, under fire from dozens of one-way attack drones, you don’t want just one type of system for counter-UAS. That’s too risky. You want as much protection as you can get. So we want Roadrunners and Coyotes, for instance. 

We want to see more market competition for defense dollars. More small businesses and suppliers pioneering solutions that can make a difference for the warfighter. More companies that want to work with us, whether for the first time or after doing so for a long time. 

And we should expect to see more opportunities for all of that to come together, even within the scope of a single program.

For example, this month the Army awarded a software company the prime contract for a hardware-intensive program, focused on fusing and disseminating sensor data across domains. That alone may be a first, but allow me to highlight what happened at the sub-prime level: it brought together a mix of traditional and non-traditional defense companies, from Sierra Nevada to Northrop-Grumman to Anduril. Hopefully such teamwork is a harbinger of things to come — and hopefully we’ll see the power of continuous, iterative development of software and hardware to accelerate capability delivery.

At the very least, we need everyone designing and building their systems from the ground up to play well with others — leveraging modular, open-system architectures — to be not only interoperable, but also interchangeable, so we can more rapidly integrate emerging technology. 

And we mean this both internationally and domestically. Under AUKUS, for example, we’ve worked with Congress to make it easier for our defense industrial base to work closely and collaboratively with industry in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Today, America’s defense industrial base is at a pivotal moment, and not just because of the new kids on the block.

The Covid pandemic revealed how fragile and brittle supply chains had become.

The war in Ukraine has revealed how nation-state aggression is a real threat, requiring information-age ingenuity and industrial-era capacity.

And the need to modernize and stay ahead of our pacing challenge reveals how the DIB had been affected by decades of yo-yo dieting, inconsistent funding, and blinkered demand signals.

Together, our task is to deliver combat-credible capabilities to the warfighter at speed and scale, so they can deter aggression, and win if called to fight. But the truth is, the engines of production never spin up from zero to 60 overnight. 

In President Reagan’s time, we could tolerate years- and decades-long timelines, when our main strategic competitor was relatively slow and lumbering; however, this is not the Cold War, or the post-Cold War era. With the PRC we are in a persistent, generational competition for advantage, and we have to double down with urgency and confidence. 

That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on American innovation, manufacturing, and production has been so important for national security. Because our military strength depends, in part, on our overall economic strength here at home. 

So we’ve made serious, significant, and sustained investments — across now four annual defense budget and multiple supplemental funding requests to Congress — to strengthen the health, workforce, supply chains, viability, and productivity of the U.S. defense industrial base, short-term and long-term.

To help prime the pump, our investments since this administration’s first defense budget request have included:

$2.4 billion for casting and forging, batteries, kinetics, and critical minerals;
$10.3 billion in microelectronics, augmented by historic funds in the CHIPS and Science Act;

$12.9 billion for industrial base infrastructure and facilities, including shipyards;

$9 billion alone in submarine industrial base investments to support both our domestic production goals and AUKUS commitments; and,

$24.7 billion for multi-year procurement of key munitions, from PATRIOTs to Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles. 

In fact, the budget that we released last week, for FY25, increases LRASM procurement quantities by over 70 percent compared to FY24, taking advantage of newly-expanded production capacity.

Of course, we’re investing in many other areas, as well: from quadrupling production of 155mm artillery shells, to expanding co-development, co-production, and even co-sustainment with key allies and partners. 

Our procurement budget has been consistently more than our R&D budget — we buy a lot of things. $167.5 billion in procurement requested in our fiscal 2025 budget.

All of these investments and more have been aligned with the needs of our National Defense Strategy, and the National Defense Industrial Strategy that builds upon it.

The latter, which we released in January, is the first of its kind in DoD — born of a recognition that our defense industrial base is something we must actively and strategically shape, to meet this generational strategic moment. 

Because production matters. Production is deterrence.

Now, the military may be a singular customer for the defense industrial base, but we are not a unitary actor. We have to succeed through teamwork, with both industry and Congress. And while I believe we all agree on the urgency to innovate, I must say one of the most serious obstacles to doing so has been the lack of stable, predictable, timely funding. 

For the 11th time since I became Deputy Secretary, DoD is operating under a continuing resolution (CR), and we look to be headed toward a 12th time. As many here know, these stopgap measures are really half-measures. 

They inhibit us from starting new programs. They compress our time to do talented acquisition work with our professionals who have to award contracts, ensuring taxpayer investments are safeguarded. 

And they rob us of critical momentum, forcing us to stand still while Beijing, Moscow and Tehran move to modernize their militaries, coerce their neighbors, and work to outpace us. 

Shutdowns are even more damaging, so we need Congress to pass bipartisan FY24 appropriations as soon as possible. We’re almost six months into the fiscal year, so it’s long overdue. And the delay has already been devastating. 

It wasn’t always like this. For all eight years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency — and even when Roger’s father was DoD Comptroller, in the early 2000s — (Laughter.) — DoD on average spent 45 days a year under CRs, about six weeks. Not great, but doable. Some years it was less. But over the last three years, that number has more than tripled: DoD has operated under CRs for an average of 143 days a year. 

Since 2010, we’ve lost nearly five years in total to CRs. No amount of money can buy that time back. It’s impossible to compete, and outcompete the PRC, with one hand tied behind our back three, four, five, or six months of every fiscal year.

Washington has to do better. And I know it’s possible. Just think, for seven presidential election years in a row — 1984, ’88, ’92, ’96, 2000, 2004, and even 2008 — Congress passed DoD’s base budget before Election Day. 

We hear the right words, but actions matter most. In Congress, industry, and even in the Pentagon, we need everyone to set aside differences, come together and work together around our shared recognition that we are in a generational era of strategic competition with the PRC. And central to that competition is investing to take care of our troops and their families. 

Let me get to a concluding message.

To have a healthy, resilient, dare I say thriving American arsenal of democracy, we also need a healthy, resilient, and thriving American democracy. The two cannot be separated. 

Because enforcing contracts and protecting IP depends on upholding the rule of law. 

Hiring a talented workforce depends on good schools and universities and immigration. 

The prosperity of all Americans depends on ensuring equal rights and equal opportunity for all.

And starting a business, investing in others, inventing a product and taking it to market depends on safeguarding the institutions that provide the blanket of liberty under which you do so.

If we want to keep changing the world, then we have to strengthen the democratic principles that make this nation so worth defending, and make changing the world even possible.

Our country is not immune to the authoritarian winds that sweep the globe. We have seen America routinely tested. And while she has withstood, we cannot take that for granted. 

Institutions can be degraded. Belief in institutions can fade. Both endanger the health of our nation, and our industry’s success. 

We want private-sector innovation to succeed. We need the private sector to feel the same about American democracy. Because neither can thrive unless the other survives.

How we do this matters. Our ends and our means for achieving them are intertwined, because the end we seek is for American democracy, and industry, to continue to long endure.

I want to thank all of our workers across the defense industrial base. American ingenuity and hard work are why U.S. military equipment is the best in the world, and why Foreign Military Sales requests continue to increase to all-time highs. 

You will remain one of our greatest enduring advantages, long into the future. 

Forty years ago this fall, then-President Reagan visited Palmdale, California, and spoke to some of the many defense industry workers building the B-1 bomber — and, secretly, multiple stealth aircraft.

There, he recalled a pledge he’d made a few months earlier, at Omaha Beach, to “always remember, to always be proud, and to always be prepared, so that we may always be free.” 

And he said there was “no higher responsibility to honor that pledge,” because, “No one, absolutely no one, should ever ask the sons and daughters of America to protect this land with less than the best equipment that we can provide.”

That responsibility guides us still today. And it always must and it always will. Thank you.

ROGER ZAKHEIM: Secretary Hicks, it's a pleasure to have you back at the Reagan Institute. And thank you for invoking Ronald Reagan and Dov Zakheim's 10 years comptroller.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: I didn't even see him there. Hi, Dov.

MR. ZAKHEIM: There we go. Check that -- both boxes. It's great. I can go to the family dinner next week.

Really interesting. I want to react to your remarks and really interesting kind of entry into this discussion on the innovation base by talking about the defense industrial base.

I wonder if before February of 2022 that might have happened. But I think it makes a lot of sense. And part of the discussions we've had today, and I know you were trying to track that as you were also trying to track the progression and the GOP conference discussions today, is talking about transforming our military capabilities for tomorrow, autonomy is the obvious one to speak to. But then, there's also the -- what you're describing about the industrial base to take the platforms we have today and innovating on them as well.

Reflecting your tenure, years tenure now as Deputy Secretary, in terms of that, how you've kind of shaped your thinking about innovation in both of those areas, the today problems, which you're managing perhaps more than you wanted to, and then the tomorrow challenges, which of course you've always been focused on?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: I think the biggest takeaway I could give you is that the answers are yes, and. And any attempt to simplify to some kind of silver bullet system, fix to the system, you know, those will fail. We have needs across the department that are vast and that kind of fall all across the spectrum, software, hardware, everything in between, and most importantly, integration of all of that.

So the way in which we interface, who we interface with to get that, you know, the researchers in the university communities, to private companies, to large companies, small companies, traditional, non-traditionals, to some extent, these, you know, start to lose their meaning after a point as distinct groups because we're a reflection of the overall U.S. economy. We have very specific needs, which I spoke to here. And then we have very common needs. And we can leverage a lot of what's in the commercial sector.

So I think the big takeaway, if you will, is, it's “yes and” we need all of the above. And too often, I think people go to those sectors and their communities, rather than thinking holistically about how do we bring down barriers across the system.

MR. ZAKHEIM: And one of the remarkable things that we've seen and you reference this in your remarks, reference the TITAN program, not sure by name, but -- but this idea how you have new entrants actually working with the traditional primes. I'm curious if that is something that's happened organically from where you sit, or has that been something you've been kind of pounding heads?

You know, when Ash Carter started DIU, my imagination of that conversation is he probably brought both sides in and said, okay, work together. And each side said, pound sand, you know? They're going to squash me. That's what the, you know, new entrants would say and the prime would say, well these guys just want to go public. They don't want to work with us. Why is it happening now?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: I think there's some necessity is the mother of invention in there. The types of capabilities that are evolving in the outside of defense realm are so clearly applicable to our needs, particularly in software, that it's very encouraging, you know, I think the traditionals, if I could maybe speak on their behalf, see the value in bringing them in.

For the non-traditionals, we've really seen a sea change, I don't know how much you all have already talked about this today, in terms of the desire to work with the department. And I think there, the PRC has done the heavy lifting. The heavy lifting is in their actions. Folks saw what happened, for instance, for Hong Kong. They've seen the aggressive advances in their military modernization. They've seen the threat to Taiwan, you know? So they've seen the theft of -- at a much more, you know, as I mentioned in my remarks, at a much more company level, they've seen the stealing of intellectual property, the cyber intrusions, things of that sort.

So whatever those reasons are, we are absolutely thrilled that folks want to work with us. We want to throw those doors wide open as we can. We know we are very challenging for folks to work with. And that's part of my job. And the job of other leaders in the department is to try to find ways to lower those barriers.

MR. ZAKHEIM: One quote you had in your speech was a reference to the National Defense Industrial Strategy. It says, production is deterrence. I think it's spot on. And I know Bill -- your colleague, Bill LaPlante has been saying the same. But one of the elements that came into this report card was looking at that and saying, okay, well, the program of record is the coin of the realm. I don't know if you agree with that, but --


MR. ZAKHEIM: -- generally -- okay. So we'll give you an opportunity to tell me why in just a moment. And I guess the question is, is that explain, you know, why that is or not the case because so many feel that they can't get to that program of record and therefore, they can't produce, right? If production is deterrence and people want to produce, but they're not getting there because they can't penetrate into existing program record or see, you know, a new one come out. All right, Kath, take it down.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: No, I -- you know, look, I -- first of all, I want to listen and be open the way in which those who are trying to enter into our market, you know, believe they can show value back to those who've invested in them. So I take that. I do think program of record is a, you know, sort of 20th century way to think about the way in which we are investing in capability and technology

MR. ZAKHEIM: We like the 20th century here at the Reagan Institute, just so you know…

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: It's a good -- it wasn't so bad, right?

MR. ZAKHEIM: Now you know -- now it's getting, yeah, personal.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: So, yeah, I mean I think the reality is that the way in which we feed the warfighter capability goes well beyond programs of record. Obviously, the adaptive acquisition pathways with Ellen Lord sitting right here is a huge way in which, you know, that had already begun to transform several years ago. We are building on that. Software acquisition is a clear other example, whether through the pathway formally or other approaches, OTAs, et cetera. That said, production does matter. And so I just don't know that I would equate all production with programs of record.

I also think that, you know, those who've worked with the DOD a long time, particularly the traditionals, they're – as I was saying the other night, they've built up their calluses, you know? And I think for those who are new or working with us, that's -- it's tough. I mean, you know, we're not the easiest to work with. And I can see where there's a desire to get to program of record as the measure of performance of their measure of success. And I think we have a lot of work to do to make us easier to work with for them.

MR. ZAKHEIM: A lot of discussion today. References this thing, I think, called Replicator?


MR. ZAKHEIM: Have you heard of it?




MR. ZAKHEIM: But interestingly, I didn't hear it in your remarks.


MR. ZAKHEIM: Okay. And so I would love for you to talk a little about Replicator, perhaps hitting on the following items. You know, when you spoke about it, perhaps in, I guess in August or so, was this 12 to 18 month window?


MR. ZAKHEIM: Okay. You're right.


MR. ZAKHEIM: 18 to 24.


MR. ZAKHEIM: You know, you're talking about attritable autonomous systems at scale, multiple thousands, and multiple domains as you said within the next 18 to 24 months. How are we doing? It's not something you're going to -- you're seeing in the budget request, as you told.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: It is in the budget request.

MR. ZAKHEIM: So outline, how we're doing against it?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: Sure. So we are on plan. The ’24 approach, we -- like everyone, I think, Mike McCord likes to say he's hitting refresh on his browser to see if we'll get the bill. We put in a reprogramming request that was very well-received in all four corners off of our '23. That is still a viable pathway. However, we also are led to believe it's possibly in the '24 bill. So we need one of those two pathways to move forward.

And our whole goal with Replicator really was to be listening, especially to the appropriators. And their report language last year in both the House and the Senate, which was essentially work with what you have, you guys have a lot of authorities. You can come back and ask for reprogramming. You could even come back and ask for reprogramming under a CR-- let's play ball. And that is exactly what we have done in Replicator. So, you know, we need to see that come to fruition. They've been very positive about it. But of course, we don't have a bill. And the reprogramming request, I think, continues to move through as an alternative path. So that's ‘24. We've built it into our budget for '25.

And let me pause there to just say a little bit about Replicator -- what Replicator is. Replicator is a process inside the department. We learn from several other efforts that we've undertaken RDER, everything's got a great name, right? RDER and CAP that -- and so Replicator is the latest version of that, really focused on production. What we've learned is that when we can bring senior leader attention in a systemic way and look enterprise-wide at how to lower those barriers I talked about, we think we can create, really catalyze activity in capability areas that are important.

So we know from warfighters that this area of a attribable autonomy is very important to the concepts that they are building out, particularly as we look to INDOPACOM. We know how they want to apply the capabilities. We are about trying to get that capability into their hands as quickly as possible. And the multiple thousands in multiple domains in 18 to 24 months meets that INDOPACOM near-term requirement. It is not a substitute for autonomy for the Department of Defense. That is not the goal of Replicator. But it is going to show -- we're going to lower barriers, burn down risk across a whole panoply of challenge areas from requirements. This is why the Vice Chairman shares it with me.

You know, go -- the fact that we have just in the first five months that we had it move through the requirements just alone, requirements process, got capabilities identified, got systems identified, got resources identified. That's knocking years off of the efforts where the department was headed already.

But what will happen at the end of this process when we've burned down the risk, when we've created these integrated capabilities, when we've provided it in a test environment to INDOPACOM and others, and when they've delivered and fielded, there's still the need across the department to better integrate autonomy, attributable or otherwise, into what the department is doing.

That is a much broader challenge set where we think Replicator is A tool, not the only tool we're using, but A tool to get the services to start to get comfortable with the burndown of risk. Obviously, as is quite clear, I am bearing the risk on Replicator. I think it's a very good risk to take if the Ukrainians and Russians can put out thousands of UASs every month, every month. And we are having heart attacks over whether the Defense Department of the United States of America can put out multiple thousands over 18 to 24 months. If we can't do that, we have a much bigger problem than whether Replicator, you know, was --

MR. ZAKHEIM: Violent head nodding in this room.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: -- was a good success.


DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: And we say we want us to take risk. You know, this is a good example. Do we want us to take risk? Are folks on board for this? But the bigger transformation in the department, these senior-level-lead pathfinders, I think, are incredibly important for changing culture. It's a show-me culture. Show them that people are willing to take risks. Show them you'll put your reputation on the line to make change happen and then maybe they'll make change happen. But the actual investment, that's going to be service-centric. And the production engines are service-centric.

MR. ZAKHEIM: We had Mac Thornberry, former chairman of the Armed Services Committee here earlier today, may still be, he was praising Replicator and also noted how it is resting on the Deputy Secretary's shoulders. Seems like you're comfortable with resting on your shoulders. That's great.


MR. ZAKHEIM: Last question before we open up to the audience here. And because you approached this, I know from years prior to your current position through a strategic lens, the National Defense Strategy, you look overall, across the horizon, the strategy, the budget, the programs, there's a concern out there, I share this, that it's shrinking. The force is shrinking. And then we can't realize our strategic objectives. However you want to manage it.

And instead of being the force that can go ahead and dominate in three regions of the world and deter, and if necessary, prevail in conflict, we're actually going to have to make some choices here to the point where we're not going to be able to do it in all those places where we need to be, where the strategy says we need to be.

You're managing this outcome of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. You didn't pass that. That was -- the President signed the bill that the Congress passed. But what can you do? And you're working under the hood of the budget. But overall, the topline is driving you towards a smaller force. I think you can measure it, you know, whether by people, platforms, whatever. Give me your take on that and whether you view it differently?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: You know, I think what I would say is our '24 budget request, which we very much hope to have enacted very soon, that budget request is matched to our strategy. It's built upon the NDS. And we think it does meet the ambitions of that strategy. The 25 -- the cap being imposed for '25 at the FRA, we have to absolutely make some tough choices. We chose to take risk, first of all, on things that are on the bubble about their executability. If they didn't look like they could really perform well, they were more on the chopping block. That's always true. But I would say, we had to particularly focus there. And then we also had to focus on things that wouldn't normally -- you know, we don't expect to deliver until the 2030s.

I think we've made acceptable choices there if we get top-line growth in the out years. I've been very clear even when I rolled out the budget that our strategy depends on that. We've laid that in in our FYDP. But if we were to look at not a one year capped down at '24 and '25, but a continuing cap, that would be a problem for us. We also need supplemental funding. The Department of Defense has always required for operational purposes, whatever you want to call it, OCO, supplemental, reset funding, in order to replenish and reset ourselves, and to make up for the operational costs that are over and above what we're doing.

Those are resource needs that we have. But I don't think fundamentally our issue is about topline. I care a lot about top line. You can't be the Deputy Secretary and not care about top line, I think we've advocated very, very well for the resources we need. I think that's part of it, but the predictability, you know, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. I have no birds in hand and we have not for a long time. I could do a lot with appropriations at the topline at the FRA level that I just can't do if we spent six more months arguing about what the right top line is. So I just don't want the top line argument to get out of proportion to the reality that we just need resources to operate under.

MR. ZAKHEIM: Okay, I'm getting the stop sign. I'm going to offer one question to the audience and ignore the stop sign. All right, over here, Val. She got her hand up quickly there.

Q: Hi, Valerie Insinna with Breaking Defense. Thank you for taking my question. So it's been about two years since you and Secretary Austin hosted CEOs from all of the various hypersonic companies, you know, big and small at the Pentagon and imparted a message about how urgent it was that companies needed to move more quickly so that, you know, there were systems that could be fielded, get those into production. And, you know, two years later, we still haven't seen that.

So why? You know, what happened? And whose fault is this? Is this -- is industry not moving fast enough? Or is the congressional yo-yo dieting, is it constraining the DOD's ability to sort of move as fast on these critical programs as needed? What's going wrong here?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HICKS: Sure. So I don't think I'd characterize our meeting that way. We were very focused and remain very focused on hypersonic defense. And that, you know, I think you had Heidi Shyu here today. It would have been, I don't know if you got into this with Heidi. But she's -- her devious mind blessedly is working this problem very hard. And I'll leave it at that. So that was really part of the focus.

Also, we have had success. We've had success in systems like ARRW. The Army has had success. And now, the question really is what makes sense to integrate to the concepts that we have? And I think I'd leave my answer with that final thought, which is the way in which the Chinese, for example, or the Russians use hypersonic weapons is not how we would use hypersonic weapons.

The Russians in fact, have used hypersonic weapons to very little effect in Ukraine. And I do think that's a good example of how we can get overly exercised in an arms race mentality around new system use. What we -- not that those technologies aren't relevant, we obviously are invested in hypersonics ourselves. We have a program we want to pursue, but we're pursuing it in advance- in order to advance the warfighter concepts that we have out there, not to their own end. And I do think we are on the plan to do that. Resourcing will make a big difference.

MR. ZAKHEIM: With that, we'll conclude. Please join me in thanking the Deputy Secretary of Defense for joining us here today. Thank you.