The deputy defense secretary is laser focused on operationalizing national defense strategy.
“It’s more about translating what we talk about into action,” Patrick M. Shanahan told the Military Reporters and Editors conference in Arlington, Virginia, today.
The department has made progress and he expects the pace will pick up moving forward.
The deputy secretary addressed the challenges of building the Space Force and crafting the DOD budget during his presentation to the group.
“The most important aspect of operationalizing our strategy is to put the resources in place, and that is why the 2020 budget is probably the most significant that we will have as a leadership team,” he said. “It is about the resources you put in place and the taskings and activities that those resources direct.”
The budget will be put together by Dec. 1, and planners are working on two submissions. DOD officials have been working over the past year to build a Defense budget request at $733 billion. “Last week, we were directed to build a $700 billion budget,” Shanahan said. “We are not going to reverse course on all that planning but we will build two budgets.”
The approach is there are certain aspects that can’t be changed – contracts have been let, some costs are already fixed — “but there are other investments that we will make in science and technology and procurement where we have ‘knobs’ to turn in terms of timing,” the deputy secretary said.
The biggest judgment call the department has to make in regards to the budget is how fast modernization proceeds.
Shanahan separates the Space Force into three operations. The first is space operations. “Then there is the component that actually develops the capabilities and the technologies … for the space operators,” the deputy secretary said. “Then we have the headquarters that will handle the training and resources — what I call the overhead.”
Developing the capabilities is most important and that is what the Space Development Agency will get after, he said. He noted that today there is more time in the Pentagon spent on discussing authorities and rules than on the actual capabilities needed. The Space Development Agency will examine what the technologies are that will allow the United States to dominate and win in space.
He wants to ensure that DOD is aligned “so we don’t solve the same problem multiple times. How do we deploy new technology much more quickly?”
And he wants to be able to leverage commercial space efforts with DOD. This is more than just sailing satellites into orbit, the deputy secretary said. It is about ground stations and using the fifth generation of mobile technology and other cyber technologies that are dependent on space.
“Think of the Space Development Agency as the forcing function so that we build out this resilient, survivable, more evolutionary capability as a standard for the department and outside the department,” Shanahan said. “This is where we will do the systems engineering on steroids.”