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Media Availability with Secretary Carter enroute to Dayton, Ohio

Nov. 3, 2016
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON CARTER:  (inaudible) you must have gotten a sense of the quality of those people -- (inaudible) -- Cecil Haney and John Hyten from their remarks.  I have a lot of confidence in John Hyten.  I've known him for a long time.

And Joe Dunford will try to -- (inaudible) very short conversation -- (inaudible) -- when I proposed to the president that he make him (inaudible) -- commander of STRATCOM.  And then you heard what I said in the course of the speech about the importance of the mission they do.

Now, we're on our way to Dayton, to the Air Force Research Laboratory, and also -- where -- Ellen Pawlikowski, who is the head of Air Force Systems Command -- (inaudible) present us all Air Force acquisition.  So lots of -- (inaudible) -- programs there.

But notably the B-21 bomber, the KC-46 tanker now -- sort of -- different ends of acquisition are -- we're just beginning the B-21.  You remember us finally, when I was undersecretary, -- award the tanker contract which had been much discussed in the years before.  And that's been a very stable, successful program.  And it was a -- a tough competitive process, but it's worked out very well.

And -- but the Air Force Research Laboratory -- (inaudible) -- I think the thing that I -- is important to me, and the reason that I wanted to go there and catch up with their latest is that they're one of our in-house laboratories.  And, you know, you see me out at Boston or -- Austin -- or California, dealing with, and trying to entice people who are not in the defense technology system to do things.

These are people who are in the defense technology system already, and they do great work.  I want to make sure we're -- we're expanding our base all the time.  But we've got a pretty good base.  Air Force Research Lab is an exemplar of that.  You know, so even -- they are supporting the major programs, but they're also doing cutting edge things that aren't yet programs, but will be the programs of the future.

We'll be looking at hypersonics.  We'll be looking at wearable technology.  If you were with me in Boston a few months ago, we launched a major initiative with Army leadership in the area of wearables -- but for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marine wearables, some of which, but not all of which, have civilian or commercial applications.  We're always looking there.  But some of them won't, and we count on places like AFRL to do it.

So these are some of the leading scientists and engineers in the country.  They're already working for us, which is great.  And they do excellent -- (inaudible).  So they'll -- –you’ll get a sense of how good they are when you're out there.

So that's the reason for the trip – and with that Peter.

STAFF:  (inaudible) -- we'll do another -- (inaudible) -- afterwards -- (inaudible).

SEC. CARTER:  I guess just before -- (inaudible) -- B-21 -- (inaudible) -- we'll do a little press gaggle -- (inaudible).  But I just thought I'd come back while I was here -- (inaudible) -- and -- (inaudible).  (inaudible) -- is to have -- (inaudible).

Q:  (inaudible) -- all right.  I wanted to ask you about the court ruling on Army and Palantir.  You know, you put a lot of effort reaching out to -- non-commercial -- or non-traditional sources, commercial sources.  And the Army had rejected Palantir’s proposal because it was commercial.  Do you think that's counter to a lot of the efforts you've been making to reach out to nontraditional sources?

SEC. CARTER:  Well, this is a particular case that I don't want to comment on.  Yes, we do want to reach out.  At the same time, we want competition as well.  And here's a situation where there was some competitive dynamic.  And that can be healthy as well.

So in general, we want to have competition, and in general we want to also have commercial companies enter and work for our business.  But this particular case, I really can't comment on.

Q:  May I ask what is special about this one?  Is it because is -- (inaudible)?

SEC. CARTER:  No, I think -- I -- I -- I think this is the kind of case that will arise when you're doing our business, which is for the taxpayer, the warfighter, in a competitive environment.  Choices are made.  Decisions are made.  But that -- and we're still a very attractive marketplace for high-tech companies that do both commercial and defense business.

We want to make it easier for them to compete for our business, but that doesn't mean they're always going to win.

Q:  Thank you.

Q:  (inaudible) -- talking about in your speech this morning.  I was only a history math major, not a math major, but the basic outlines –appear to be in the current budget there’s really no way to fulfil all of the needs -- (inaudible) -- all of the -- (inaudible) -- with -- (inaudible).  How do you see that working -- (inaudible)?

SEC. CARTER:  (inaudible) -- well, it is affordable.  These are investments we'll be making in the future.  We have lots of large programs.  We make lots of decisions that commit to large spending wedges in the future.  And the nuclear deterrent is of fundamental importance that is not a large part of the acquisition budget or the defense budget.  But it's extremely important.

So I'm confident these programs are affordable.  That's a -- (inaudible) -- and they're necessary.

STAFF:  We're going to have another chance later.  I've got to get him back up front.

SEC. CARTER:  Oh, I should say one other thing, which is obviously as with all programs, we're going to be vigilant about cost.  I'm confident we're going to afford them, but I'm also confident that we're going to make them affordable.  We've already worked very hard on the Ohio replacement program to -- -- cost reduction as the design has progressed.  And we'll do a similar thing for the ground-based strategic deterrent.  And we'll get better and better at estimating what the cost is.

Right now, our way of estimating this cost is to hearken back to its predecessor, but that was 50 years ago.  So –since you’re a history and math major -- you might appreciate that history and math don't work very well together -- (inaudible) -- the base for estimating a future program cost.  We're going to have to get down to the detailed design, and then down to detailed costing.

And then in these programs, like all our other central programs, I'm going to expect us to do design trades and so forth that result in cost reductions.  So we'll do both of those things.  So it will be affordable, but we're going to drive down the cost, but these are necessary programs.  They're not the only big programs in our future, either.

Q:  (inaudible)

SEC. CARTER:  -- (inaudible) -- the money has got to -- the country –needs to and will afford –an adequate defense of the future.  This will be a –piece of it.  As I said, it's not a large piece of the defense budget and it will not be -- (inaudible).  It's not projected to be a large part of the defense budget.

So -- and we're going to need the country to continue to pay for an adequate defense in the future.

STAFF:  Sir, I've got to run you back -- (inaudible).

SEC. CARTER:  Thanks.  We'll do another -- we'll do another -- (inaudible) -- you know, little gaggle, podium-type thing out in Dayton.  I think in just a few hours time.  You guys will like the lab.

Oh, keep your eye on General Pawlikowski.  Can I say something about Ellen?  Ellen is an old friend of mine.  She's done so much in her career.  She now -- she's the four-star commander of Air Force Systems Command, which means -- (inaudible) -- materiel command, which has a very proud legacy.  And, you know, it's a major responsibility, since she has everything –aircrafts, satellites, bombs, command and control -- the whole deal -- under her command.

But where I first got to know her was I was running the –Nunn-Lugar program in the 1990s.  And we had this money from Congress.  We had the job of safeguarding the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union.  But there was no –roadmap for during this.  And Ellen was my acquisition -- (inaudible).  And something nobody had ever done before.  This was like buying an airplane in the United States.

This was major engineering projects -- (inaudible) -- the former Soviet Union -- (inaudible).  (inaudible) -- really challenging -- (inaudible) -- a lot of creativity.  And Ellen did it -- (inaudible) -- $500 million -- (inaudible) -- $500 million the next year and -- (inaudible) -- the next year.

And so it was a lot of money, but that's -- it's -- it's Ellen's projects that took the nuclear weapons out of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, chopped up all those bombers at Engels Air Base there, and Blackjack bombers; SS-24s; SS-19s in Ukraine.  (inaudible) – she was a colonel at the time in the Air Force, if you can believe it.  And so -- (inaudible) -- lot of things -- (inaudible).  She ran our Space and Missiles Center out in Los Angeles also.

So I've worked with her a lot, which is -- (inaudible) -- entire -- (inaudible) -- is managed.  You saw Betty Sapp today, NRO director -- (inaudible) -- mentioned -- (inaudible) -- space program.  Ellen -- (inaudible) -- space program -- (inaudible).  (inaudible) -- keep your eye on her.  She's a very capable person.

And that's it.

STAFF:  You get a double-dip in a little bit.

SEC. CARTER:  Okay -- (inaudible) -- love this place.

Q:  We don't get to see as much as you do, sir. (Laughter.)