The Kill Chain: Planning for the Conflicts of Tomorrow
Thank you nick, uh, it's great to be here, uh with you. And with the security, forum, and with, chris, just, you know we book writers, like to, display the merchandise, this is chris's, book, i want you as soon as we're finished to. Go get a copy. One, way or another, i watched the gestation, of this, book, i remember, a, powerful. Lecture that chris gave. Two years ago in aspen, where we are virtually. Talking about, the need for defense modernization. It was a startling. Wake-up call i ended up writing. A column about it. And. Began a conversation, with with chris that. Was part of his effort to develop, this, book and the arguments, in it, so i want to, ask. Chris to take us all on the journey that he's been on and that he's shared some. With me over the years. The book starts. If you haven't read it yet with a really, chilling, account. Of what would happen, in the first. Hours, and days. Of a war with china. And our vulnera. Maybe that's a good place to start explaining, to people. Why we have a problem. When it comes to defense technology. Yeah thank you david i, appreciate you taking the time to do this and appreciate your friendship, and guidance throughout this whole process, it's really really been invaluable, to me. The story sort of begins for me uh in the time that i spent on the senate armed services committee better part of a decade. Supporting, the committee and senator mccain. Looking very closely, at the u.s military. How we were investing, money uh how we weren't investing, money, and ultimately, how we. Kind of match up against, emerging, great power competitors, first and foremost, china. And, you know the reason i wrote the book was, a growing, concern that i had then and have now. Uh that we are losing our military, technological. Advantage. Um, that as a result of that you know our ability, to deter, conventional, conflict. Is also eroding. And that is increasingly. Uh putting us into a very dangerous, and perilous, position. And you know as you said i i, tried to to sort of make this visceral, to people, in spelling, out, you know what it might look like god forbid. If the united states military, had to uh to fight china.
Um, You know there are a lot of reasons, why that might end up happening. It's not a war that the united states is looking for obviously, but you know. For many reasons we could end up finding ourselves. In that type of a situation. And. Basically, the problem that we have is that for 30 years. Our adversaries, have gone to school on how the united states builds and operates. Our military. And they have, china in particular. Have not sought to play the same game that we have played they've sought to play a different game. They have recognized, that the u.s military, is built around. Very small numbers, of very large exquisite. Expensive. Heavily manned hard to replace, military, systems. Vehicles. Ships, aircraft. Platforms. And they have made a conscious effort a deliberate, effort. A very urgent, effort to build up military, capabilities. To call into question. Uh how the u.s military, operates, and what it operates, with. So what i what i spell out in the beginning of the book, is a concern, that if we ended up in this conflict. Uh, our forward operating, bases, uh, our our land bases in asia places like guam. Bases in japan, would come under, kind of immediate, and withering, attack from, very precise, and very large quantities. Of precision guided weapons, you know cruise missiles ballistic, missiles. Uh increasingly, hypersonic, weapons, of all different ranges and types. Our. Naval forces. Our sea bases, our aircraft, carriers. Would face a similar, onslaught, of very large quantities, of relatively, lower cost very precise, weapons. Anti-ship, ballistic, missiles, cruise missiles the so-called, carrier killer df-26. Uh anti-ship, cruise missile and ballistic, missile. Our. Sort of air power, would uh struggle, to get close, and and struggle to be relevant. Because of the very dense, integrated, air defense systems that the chinese have built and fielded. All of this with an idea toward pushing the u.s military, farther away making it harder for us to operate and then ultimately. Engaging. What, the chinese military, refers to a systems destruction, warfare, which is. Uh the fielding of capabilities. To kind of rip apart. Uh the critical enabling, technologies. And capabilities. That the united states relies, upon, to operate our forces in combat, from. Our satellite, networks, our intelligence. Apparatus. Our command and control enterprise. Uh the ways in which we move information, and commands, around to our military, systems. Uh and operate, effectively. Uh, you know again, here too. The chinese military, is fielding very advanced, technologies. From, kind of high power jammers, and cyber effects and electronic, warfare. Uh to very consciously, go after the ways that the united states military, operates. And you know my bottom line on this is that they've made a lot more progress, than i think most americans, realize. Uh and the situation, for the united states is a lot more dire than most americans, realize. So. Chris that's a a a. As i said a chilling. Account. Of, a. War in which our carriers, are having to move. East, away from china. To escape, attack. Our beautiful. F-35. Exquisite. Fighters. Can't get to their targets, because they can't refuel, because. The refueling, planes will get shot down. Just a series, of. Really. Dreadful. Prospects. You say at one point the talking with senator mccain, about this. Some years ago. Two of you imagine, the conversation.
In The situation, room where the choice would be, between, surrender, and lose. Or fight, and lose. So. The question, obviously, is. How do we get, into this. Terrible, situation. Of vulnerability. Uh to into the into the, kind of scenario, you just described. Where, the chinese, have weapon, systems, doctrine. That will, render, our our beautiful, weapons. Uh i don't want to say, useless, but of much less value how did that happen. Yeah, and and you know as i say in the book as you just said now and as i can't say enough i mean i'm not trying to suggest that china is 10 feet tall or that the united states has no effective means of responding. We do. It's just that the overarching. Story is a is a pretty bad one and i think it's heading into a worse direction. Uh how did we get here there's a handful, of things that i would point to, um you know one obvious reason is that for the past two decades, we have been very focused, on, uh kind of the events that followed 9 11 the wars we were fighting global counterterrorism. Operations. And that shouldn't be minimized, i mean that was an enormous, strain. On the us military, on our resources, on our time of senior decision makers. But that's not the whole story, and the reality, is that during that period of time over the past 20 25, years. The lion's share of our defense, budget you know, upwards, of three quarters of a trillion dollars at this point. Uh has been going toward military, systems, and modernization. Efforts that really didn't have anything to do with the wars we were fighting. And i think that's where, uh you know to me a lot of the failure, kind of resides. Um ultimately, i think it's an intellectual, failure, um that we have misconceived. Of the nature of military, power. Um what we are building a military, to do, uh we have a you know what what, sort of we refer to in the defense world is kind of a platform-centric. View of the world. Um you know we we have optimized, our entire defense enterprise, to produce, military. Things. Uh vehicles, ships aircraft. Uh tools of military, power that we relied upon. For many decades. And we have sought to make them incrementally. Better. We've optimized, our industrial, base, uh to produce those kinds of results. And the reality, is that that's ultimately, not what wins wars it's not what deters, conflict. It's not what keeps the peace. You know ultimately, the outcomes we're trying to achieve. You know are better decision, making. Better quality, action, better. You know kind of understanding. Of the world and the ability to do that faster and at greater scale than our competitors. Regardless, of the tools that we use. Um, so part of the problem i think exists, in how we conceive, of military, power, and the fact that we build programs, and budgets, and an industrial, base and a, sort of special interest, support complex. All focused, on you know producing, more, incrementally. Better versions, of the old things we've relied upon for a very long period of time. You know at the same time we failed to recognize. How far, emerging, technologies. Have advanced, particularly. In the commercial, world over the past 10 to 15, years. Nick mentioned a lot of those technologies, up front. But just by way of an example. You know the the parking lot outside, of the office building where i am now. Uh has has commercial, tesla vehicles, that have on board them, computer, processors. Graphic, processing, units, that are literally, hundreds of times more capable, more powerful, than the super computer, that is on, the f-35. Joint strike fighter. Which as you know is referred to in defense circles, as the flying super computer. The defense, world has simply fallen, uh you know significantly. Behind the commercial world in a lot of respects with respect, to, artificial, intelligence, emerging. Uh technologies. Like that, and i think the underlying, reason if i could point to one, uh is hubris. You know we came out of the cold war so far ahead, of the next competitor. And we enjoyed that period of military, dominance, for so long. That we began to believe, that the ways that we have always operated the military, the things we have relied upon to deliver our dominance. Would forever be the things that would that would sort of uh achieve that level of military, primacy, for us. And we've failed to recognize, that in that time we have been disrupted, by. Our competitors, and we've been disrupted, by. Sort of the nature and evolution, of advanced, technology. And if that mindset, doesn't change if we don't realize, that, we have to get out of the way that we have conceived, of military, power and operations, for the past 30 years. We're, not going to be able to address this problem. Effectively. So, chris to dig a little deeper, on this question of how did this happen to us. I want to ask you to talk about something, on which you have a unique.
Advantage. And that is the role of what your. Late boss senator mccain. Like to call the military, industrial. Congressional. Complex, that. Iron. Triangle, that keeps, our existing. Procurement. Systems. You know ever, greater, refinement. Of, existing, systems. Keeps that whole, thing, uh rolling. Forward. And maybe you could talk. About, that, obstacle, to buying what we, need. From the perspective, that you, had when you were staff director of the committee the kinds of things you saw happen. Despite, efforts, by you sometimes, by senator mccain, to, turn the course. It just it just didn't happen, year after year why is that. Yeah it's it's it's a great question, and i think you know you're right to hit upon the idea, that this truly is sort of an ecosystem. Um it definitely, involves the congress, it involves the department, of defense, and the military, and it involves. Uh kind of special, interest groups outside, of the, outside of the government. Um certainly, the uh you know the industrial, base but then also, you know the the many organizations. That are involved, in national defense. Um. The the problem i see is not you know kind of the nature of the system. Um i think the nature of the system is not going to change. Um it is going to be what it is, uh and you know i think we can sort of uh wish away elements, of it you know we could wish that it was going to be otherwise, than it is. But i but i really don't think that it's realistic, to assume or sort of hold out hope that, defense reform, has to uh be predicated, upon sort of a fundamental, transformation, of our political, system. Um i think the reality, is and what you're pointing to is that too often, the incentives, that govern that system. Um are out of whack. Um and they they generate, the same outcomes, year over year. Uh you know which is sort of, as we've been talking about you know kind of, building. You know kind of, more and more, sort of incrementally. Better versions of old things. At great cost, uh you know at sort of great levels of technological. Uh sophistication. But they're not necessarily, the things that we need, to, uh to prevail, and sort of the strategic, competition, that we're now involved, in, um, i think the reason for that is that you know this is a this is a defense, establishment. That is inherently, conservative. Um and there are good reasons for that you know bureaucracy. Exists, to slow the pace of change, you know less disruptive, change cost people's lives and create calamity. I think the problem that we have here is that. The system has become, so optimized. To producing, the same types of things. To demanding, the same types of things to wanting to build the same types of things. That it becomes extraordinarily. Difficult, to change the incentives, that govern that system. And and to do that you truly have to sort of affect it at all levels it's not enough to, uh to try to make change at the congressional, level in the absence of having leadership, at the department, or, you know kind of different types of responses, from defense, industry. Um, this is something that, uh you know is possible, i think to change and i you know in my in my time in the senate i i got to be part of and i certainly, saw. You know efforts where the congress, was, involved, in the right ways, toward. Making hard choices, divestments, of old systems. You know increasing, investments, in new technologies. That the department was perhaps not fully aware of, um, and this has happened before i mean the. Mq-9, reaper the predator, aircraft, you know kind of unmanned, aviation, as we think about it today largely began through congressional, earmarks. This is something that you know the incentives, can be changed. But too often what we have is a system, where. The pace of change is incredibly, slow. There are very few incentives, for people in all the different branches, of government, and parts of the ecosystem. To make disruptive, change to fundamentally. Shift the way that we do things. And again it, evolves, or sort of revolves, around the systemic, failure to truly understand, and measure. And seek to compete. You know different ways, of, you know achieving the military, outcomes that we're seeking. Rather than simply producing, better versions of the tools we've always relied upon. Let me remind, our audience. Members that you can join this conversation. In a few minutes. Uh and what you should do if you think you have a question for chris. Is go to your. Participants. Uh. Tab, uh on your, screen. And hit the raise hand button, and then we'll see it and we'll know that you're interested in, asking a question and that will, uh facilitate.
Uh, Our conversation. With with chris, so chris one interesting, thing about about what you've done, is that, with a strong, belief, in the need to modernize. Our defenses. That you've, written about in this in the book. You also, have actually gone out and tried to do it yourself, in your own career. Chris as nick said initially, as the chief strategy, officer, for andrew. Industries, and i thought it might be interesting for our. Viewers just to hear from you chris about what you're doing now what, what are the, new weapons, and systems, that you're trying to build what else do you hear about out in, you know the technology. World, uh and then we'll talk after that about why it's so difficult, for companies, like yours, to really get in the door. Yeah, i appreciate it uh so, you know anderl, is a technology, startup, uh we're three years old. Uh you know we have been working, you know since the day we were founded, to, you know try to provide. More advanced, technological. Capabilities. To, the national defense, enterprise. So certainly the department, of defense, but also. Uh you know other national security, agencies. You know u.s allies, and partners, overseas. And our focus is very much, uh, is very much that you know it is, taking these emerging, technologies. Like artificial, intelligence, and autonomous, systems. And trying to build different kinds of solutions, different kinds of capabilities, that address the problems, that. U.s military, operators, national security, professionals. Have. Not to you know kind of meet requirements, that were laid out 10 years ago but to try to solve the problems that they're trying to solve in new and different ways. And i think a lot of the a lot of the work that we focus on and and i think you know this is a broader statement about the nature of these technologies. Um it really goes back to what we were talking about earlier, that, you know what we're really trying to, to do when we feel military, capabilities. Or bring new technologies. Into the force. Is fundamentally. Enhanced. Human decision making. Um human understanding. Um the nature, of action that humans can take, um and truly making it sort of a human-centric. Uh process, you know i think there's a there's a lot of. Um, you know uh, confusion, around what these technologies. Can do and can't do there's a lot of, misunderstandings. And concerns, about. Uh you know building skynet, or the terminator, and i think, you know as we look at it and i think you know many people in the in the sort of defense, technology, world look at it you know there are certain things that these technologies. Are going to be very good at doing now and there are a lot of things that they're they're not good at doing now and they shouldn't be put into the position of doing now. And you know at the most basic level i sort of boil it down to. Uh. You know the department of defense, is awash, in data, you know much like the rest of the world you know collecting, vast amounts of information. And the tragedy, is that all too often we're actually not taking advantage of all of the information, that we have. We're making it the job of you know, vast, numbers, tens of thousands, of people. To sift through this information, and try to generate insights, to try to. Uh you know kind of prepare, our military. For the very dangerous, jobs that they're going to have to perform. And all too often it's slow, it's manual. It's brittle. It's not very dynamic. And that increases, risk to to to our men and women in uniform, our you know professionals, who do national defense, work. It wastes their time. And i think you know where these technologies, can really shine today is around. Uh you know making better use of the information, that. That we have. Generating, insights, and understandings. That are going to, you know protect our force defend our force save innocent lives. Surface that faster. Put humans in the position to make better. Sort of faster, decisions, about. You know very important, issues of war and peace and life and death. And then ultimately, ensure, that whatever actions are being taken. Are originating, from human agency. And always have human accountability. Associated, with them so you can trace that action back, you know to someone who is accountable, for initiating, it. You know i think that to me is is really the crux of the issue.
As Long as we can sort of ensure that that process, is taking place, you know these technologies. I think are going to you know rapidly, develop. Uh rapidly, add value. But it has to occur kind of in that, you know operational, strategic, and ethical framework. If you read. Chris's book as i hope you will you'll see a detailed, discussion, discussion, of, all the different. Unmanned, systems. Uh. Air, sea, land. Uh that, for relatively. Little money, can be brought to bear. Chris has some striking, cost comparisons, between the weapons that we, that we have now and the ones that we that we could have. Chris. Assuming. That there are these great companies, out there. They've got great ideas, they just know how they could be helping, uh our defense. Uh in a in a cost cost-effective. Way. They confront, a pentagon, procurement, process. That is i'm just going to say, intimidating. And overwhelming. And a lot of companies just give up, could you talk about that problem. About, the people with good ideas, just, don't have the scale, in terms of their ability to, do the paperwork. To to get into this, procurement, loop. Yeah, yeah so, national defense, is you know it's it's not a free market, you know it's a it's it's very significantly. Defined, and controlled, by the government but it's still governed by incentives. And you know i think that's the thing that is that is worth focusing, on when we try to you know kind of unpack this question of how new entrants can do better business with the department of defense, and help the us military. Um you know what i've seen in my, time when i was in the senate you know did a lot of work for senator mccain in the committee to try to reform this acquisition, process, and then certainly in my life after government. Uh is that the. The timelines, are way too long, for small companies. You know for larger companies, they can ride out, you know the multi-multi-year. Process, from generating, requirements. Uh to programming. Uh you know kind of acquisition. Programs. Uh you know selecting, a vendor. You know going through the competition. Process, you know ultimately, then getting money appropriated, for them i mean this is a, oftentimes. You know a multi-year. Six to seven years in the case of you know larger military, systems you know it's it's it's over 10 years long. The problem that we have is that you know for for small companies, for startups. They need to be able to return. Uh investment, quickly, they need to be able to show that they are, you know kind of uh you know generating, wins that they are getting traction, for the work that they're doing. Um, and i think all too often the problem, in, in the national defense world has been that we. We start a lot of new programs, you know we have a lot of new prototypes. Or science projects, or, you know kind of small scale, efforts that get going. And it's never been easier right now as a result of a lot of the reforms, that have occurred in recent years. The defense innovation, unit, and. Other innovation, focused, organizations, that are seeking to bring these companies, in to do work, the problem historically. Has been that none of its scales. So that hundreds of companies, may come in and, you know have the opportunity, to to get a very small contract, and build a very small prototype.
But Then there's not a mechanism, that takes those companies, or those programs. The best performers, across, what is known as the. Valley of death from. You know a small scale prototyping. Effort to a large-scale, military, program. And i think the thing that the, the defense, establishment, needs to focus on the next administration. Whichever. Uh you know stripe it is needs to focus on is creating, those mechanisms, and processes. To identify. Who the true performers, are. Among all of those new entrants that are now coming in and doing very small amounts of work for the department of defense. And identifying, you know who are going to be the next spacex's. You know who are going to be the next. You know kind of star companies, that are capable of fielding. Uh you know critical, national, security, and national defense technologies. At scale. You know that's ultimately how you then begin to change the defense, industrial, base. Is that as small companies, become larger, companies, as they hire more people. It looks like a viable business model for engineers. And for new founders, and for investors. It is it is a place where engineers, want to go work and investors, want to invest. And the problem that we've had for 30 years. Is that as. Startups, in every other sector of our economy, from financial, technology, to consumer, electronics. Have have gone from being small startups, to you know billion dollar unicorns. There have only been two examples, of that in the defense, world in 30 years. It is a very small. Group of companies, that have actually been able to cross that threshold. And you know all too often it's because they've had, uh you know kind of the the the prowess, or the the resourcing, behind them to just play out these incredibly, long timelines. That's got to change, uh to sort of level the playing field, reduce the barriers, to entry so more of these companies, and more of these innovators, can come in, not just do work and then go nowhere, but do work and then scale it to build, you know more successful, companies, more successful, products. And ultimately help the us military, regain its competitive, advantage. Let me invite. Our. Viewers again, if you'd like to ask a, question of chris. To. Go to the participant. Tab, at the bottom of your screen. And then, hit the little raise hand button and your hand will be, magically, raised and we'll be able to see it and and call on you for for a question, chris i want to just, veer away from the subjects, of your book for a minute. To just ask your general question as somebody who, follows our military, carefully. And thoughtfully. This is a period where a lot of. People, in our professional, agencies. Our military. Intelligence. Community. Spend some time looking over their shoulders, towards, the political. Authorities, whether they're on the hill or in the white house. In a way that uh, is worrisome, sometimes. And i'd, be interested in your evaluation. Of how the military, is doing in protecting. Its independence. We had a. Moment where, we had the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff out in his camis. Uh in lafayette, park that i think was worrisome, for a lot of people including him, i think general miller would be the first to say, that was not a good moment. Where do you think things are now, and what would be your thoughts. Uh, going forward, about the right balance for the military, in terms of. Politics. Yeah it's it's a great question, and it's uh it's it's something that i think has become increasingly, alarming to a lot of us um you know i think the the national, security, professionals, you know far beyond the military. Um you know certainly when i was on the hill you know there's there's always kind of broad bipartisan. Support for these institutions. Um there's a degree of of trust. Uh and deference, shown to them, uh from the standpoint, of you know, uh. You know not not sort of believing, that there are kind of conspiracies. Afoot.
Uh To undermine, the functioning, of the u.s government or its elected leaders and and that to me the sort of erosion, of trust. Um has been deeply worrisome. Um, i think the u.s military, is is sort of hanging on, um i think they've actually weathered this, um, you know pretty well in light of you know how you know the many different ways this could have played out, uh i think the you know the instance that you cite you know with with general milley. Um i think he recognized. That you know he he had put himself or ended up in a compromising. Position and was very quick to come out and, you know correct the record and admit that you know that should not have happened, and i think those are the kinds of things that, that you know the military, leadership that kind of keeps the institution, on the right track. And you know i think it's been very difficult, for them to, you know to maintain, that straight line. Um and i think that's ultimately, where, you know where where civilian, leadership, is just essential. Um we don't want, uh you know a society, where you know we are sort of treating the military, like a priesthood. Um, you know we do want you know strong civilian, leadership. Um and part of that civilian, leadership, is, uh. You know is is sort of sheltering the military, from these kinds of political, winds. Uh political, interests. Um and that's something that i think is becoming. Uh harder to do. Um as more and more of this process, becomes politicized. I i truly hope that that's something that we can turn the page and move away from and recognize, that if we keep going down that path. Uh it's gonna lead us to some pretty dark places. But my my hope here is that. You know all things considered. Uh you know the u.s military, i think has done a has done an admirable, job of trying to keep itself, out of politics. Uh sort of you know um. You know, constantly, making it clear that their you know that their loyalty, is to the constitution. And the oath that they. Uh, you know that they took when they joined the the ranks of the us military. And, you know i think that's something that, is going to have to continue to guide them moving forward but i think at the same time. You know civilian policymakers. Are going to have to recognize. You know what are the ways that we that we want to rely upon our military, and what are the things that we just need to keep them, you know keep them away from. Uh and i and my hope is that on a bipartisan, basis you know congress, can continue, to try to.
Uh To to play a role in helping that process, of, you know giving the military, cover sheltering, them from, uh you know kind of political, wins or or, interests, or involvement, in politics, that could be, that could be deleterious. Rather than playing into the process, of wanting. Uh to take opposite, sides and use the military, as a cudgel, to, uh to beat up the administration, regardless, of which you know which party's in. Power. So we have some uh. Wonderful, questions, that are teed up here and i'm going to start. Uh with, two people who are special, members of, our aspen, family. Uh and. Ask each of them in turn to put their questions across then we may bundle some questions. Uh, as we go further but i want to begin with jane harman. Who was a member of congress, for many years, took an intense, interest in national security issues. Uh was, an effective. Uh. Overseer. And and critic and then for the last 10 years running the, woodrow wilson center has made a special, contribution. To understanding, foreign policy national security. So, jane harmon. Uh thank you chris, and uh and david, uh it's nice to see you both i i just have to say that. Uh, congress, is less without. John mccain. And congress is also less without you chris i thought you were a highly creative, and very skilled. Uh staff director, of the uh, senate armed services, committee, so i have a two-part, question related to everything we have been discussing. And, first i have to confess, i was part of the military-industrial. Congressional. Caucus. Because, my district, made most of the, country's. Uh, defense. And intelligence, satellites. And, it was a huge, deal to the economy, it was the economic, driver to have aerospace, firms doing that. That doesn't, excuse, the fact that they could evolve, and do better with small suppliers, and all that but, uh just, so i put that out there my two part question is this it first relates to the capacity. Of congress. Yes we need defense, reform, yes we need. To, think about. Uh new systems, in new ways. But most members of congress, are pretty analog, or at least they were in my day. And these are digital, systems. Uh at the wilson center we're educating, staff, to understand. A.i, and cyber. But can members, of congress, wrap their heads around, if they if they even, had time for this. Uh, the the concepts, and the systems. That we need for the future, that's the first part the second part is you david raised the, issue of intelligence. And it's not just. Um. Uh. Leave. Being the the leaders of the military, alone, and not and making, sure that they, uh exercise. Uh, their capacity. To put the country first, but it's also, that the what i would call a pretty substantial. Purge of our intelligence, community, recently. Has left us. Uh it seems to me. Or left this able to speak truth to power and as we think about systems, to field, chris. Against, future threats we have to think about, uh how capable. Are our adversaries. And what are their intentions. And if we don't understand, their intentions. Uh we could easily, miscalculate. So it's capacity, of congress. And capacity, of our ic. Great questions, i um and thank you for your kind words jane i. With respect to the capacity, of congress, um i i definitely, think, uh both at the at the member level as well as the staff level, um, that the institution, would be well served, by the kinds of efforts that you're engaging, in, uh to sort of up level the understanding. Uh you know of these technologies. What they can do and what they can't do. That's important, i mean what i would say though is you know i think we we also have to recognize. That. Um. Ultimately, what these technologies. Are are being brought to do, is solve operational. Problems. And, you know we can demystify. A lot of the technology. And sort of what it's doing you know you shouldn't have to be a data scientist, to understand, the value that machine, learning can provide to the us military.
Nor Should you have to be a you know, a 20-year. Military, operator. What i sought to do in the book was was, try to unpack, this in a way that i felt would make it more accessible, to. Um you know kind of an informed, general audience. Um you know my colleagues, former colleagues, uh in the congress. Uh and i think a lot of that has to do with with really kind of boiling the problem, down to what it is we're what, we're ultimately, building military, systems to do. Uh which is to improve understanding. And decision making and action. And i think at that level you can begin to contextualize. What these technologies. Can do and can't do. There are ways that you can actually demonstrate, to people. So that it's visceral. And tangible. You know how these technologies, are contributing, to. Improving, understanding. Improving, human decision making. Making us better faster. At the types of things that we have to do operationally. I think that's where people really come to see the value of the under, of the underlying, technologies. And what they can do to, enhance, our competitiveness. Without having to get into, you know kind of the nature of the algorithms. And, uh the false positives, and other things that you know i think engineers, are going to focus on so. Um i do think it's possible it has to just be framed the right way and we have to focus on the right problems. With respect to the ic. Uh, that's that's i i couldn't agree more and i think that's you know i think ultimately what we were just talking about which is the erosion, of trust. Um, in in our professionals. Um you know whether it's our foreign service officers, our uniformed, military. Um you know our law enforcement, officials, or, uh you know our, professionals, in the intelligence, community. Um. You know, we we have a we have an admirable, tradition, in this country, you know of, people who serve in our government. Um, who are. Uh who are certainly individuals, you know but but who sort of answer a calling higher than themselves. Um that sort of render service, to the country regardless, of which administration's. In power. Uh regardless, of which party's in power. Um and to see the erosion, of that, uh trust in our institutions. Um, and and the belief, that you know these are these are just sort of you know yet another political, actor on the field. Uh to me is deeply. Deeply worrisome. And that's something that we're going to have to rebuild, in this country. And i and i think that it's going to have to start sooner than later because if that erosion, continues, if we can no longer, trust. That we have professionals. In our in our, national security, ranks. You know who are there to serve the nation and call balls and strikes. Um, i i think then it uh you know we we devolve into, you know, a real real state of political, chaos. And we're at risk of that now and, you know we've got to correct in the future, we're going to uh to take take a pretty dark path i think.
I Want to turn. To a question from an another. Giant, in national security senator, sam nunn. Is, is senator, nunn. Still with. Us. Can you hear me david. Yes i i hear your senator speak up and. And chris is waiting. Okay i was thanking chris for his great service. When he was, on capitol hill, working for senator mccain, and continued, service, now. I look forward to reading the book procurement. System, has always, been extremely, difficult, and i. Guess now it's even more difficult, i wonder. Number one about ash carter's, initiative, with. Uh, silicon, valley, and whether that plays any role here. And whether that should be continued, and addresses, some of these problems, that, you point out. My second question, deals with. The constitutional. Responsibilities. Of congress. My guess is that the founding fathers would have said the, two most important responsibilities. Of congress under the constitution. Article one. Is appropriating, money and number two, declaring, war. And of course the, war powers, act has not worked it is not working, and, no one seems to be overly concerned, about it, uh although we've been in wars in the middle east where everybody. Thinks we ought to get out but we don't. Uh we can't find a way. For, almost 20 years now. So does congress, really need to reorganize. In order to fulfill, its role under the constitution. Of war powers, which is pretty darn important. But it seems to me it's almost in total default, so, two separate questions, thank you again chris, look forward to reading the book. Oh thank you very much senator uh it's great to be with you i i think on your first question. Uh. The, initiatives, that have been launched in recent years, um you know you mentioned the defense innovation, unit, uh these are good and there are there are a number of organizations. Like that that have now proliferated. These are good things. I think they're playing an important, role, in trying to to build bridges to the technology, community to try to create pathways. For. Kind of startups, or new entrants, or companies that have not traditionally, done national defense, work. To get started. Um i think the critical thing as i was saying earlier that is still lacking. Is. How do we scale the best performers. Uh because that's ultimately, what's going to, uh you know kind of revitalize. And, uh and help to remake. Our defense industrial, base make it a more competitive, and dynamic, ecosystem, of technology, where you have.
Lots Of viable, performers, who can operate at scale. Rather than just a very small number. You know of very large companies as we have today. I i think with respect to the war powers act and sort of the general question of war powers and authorization, for use of force. You know this is something that i could not agree with you more. Is a is a problem, that, uh people recognize, on a bipartisan, basis is a problem. Uh that congress, has, uh you know delegated, a lot to the executive, branch. Uh with respect, to the, uh the conduct, of war the authorization. For for war sort of how these, uh, conflicts, are governed. I think the big flag that i would that i would offer. Is that in the attempt, to reframe, this which i think is important. Um. The congress, needs to resist the temptation. To try to be. You know an organization. Of 535. Commanders, in chief. The proper role of the congress, in the authorization. For use of force. Is identifying. And defining, the mission that we want our military, to, accomplish. We have to be able then as a congress, to defer, the execution. Of that. Um you know kind of military, operation. Uh to the president. And i think the reason we've had. An inability, to get this system right to sort of modernize, it, as you said. Is the lack of trust that has existed between the congress, and the president, on that basis. I saw it when i was in the senate, you know where you had a, republican-controlled. Congress and a democratic, president. I think the same is true now where you have you know a, division of power in the congress. And a republican, president. Ultimately. You know the congress, has to be, in the position of defining, the mission. But then comfortable, delegating, the execution, of that mission to the president. While still having oversight. Control, of the funding. Mechanisms, at its disposal. To. Correct things that it sees going in the wrong direction. I think but if the congress, tries to micromanage. Our military, operations, and the conduct. Of, military, operations. Uh we're going to end up creating more, more problems than i think we are going to solve. So i, regret we only have two minutes left i'm going to take the top two names, on my list of questions please keep your questions if you can. 20, seconds or so, nancy, bober, and then vikon. Jyoti. We'll ask the questions and we'll come back to chris for a final comment uh. Nancy. Is nancy, there because we're not i'm not hearing her question. So let's go to v gun if vegan, jyoti is there uh, we'll, ask you to give your. Question. Good afternoon. Thank you so much for taking my question. Um i. I'm really, grateful for this. This session and, thank you so much for organizing, it. Thank you mr christian for your book and thank you mr david for, cord uh coordinating, and interacting, with it my question is. About this current pandemic. As you have noticed that. This is a. Zoonotic, disease and there are several zoonotic, diseases. Which have which we have. Dealt with in the past hiv, ebola. And they all come from. Viruses. Jumping from animals to humans because of animal slaughter. Good. Good this. Pandemic, uh this model of pandemic, could be used. As a warfare. Technique. And what can we do to prevent. Future. Future, such, viruses, or future. Such pandemics. Since we have live markets. Not only in china, but also, there are several wet markets, in u.s, also good good question chris that's a chilling way to end it but that's, a good question for you. Yeah well uh, i guess a chilling answer is you know as i as i worked on this book and you know. Spent a lot of time looking closely, at you know a lot of these emerging technologies, and advanced technologies. Um the one that i am most concerned about is actually not artificial, intelligence. You know as much as people are concerned about that it's, biotechnology.
And Specifically, around this question, of biological, warfare. Um you know historically, biological, warfare, has been the classic, example. Of an indiscriminate. Weapon you know once it's released into the environment, it sort of you know moves around, person to person in an uncontrolled. And, uh you know um, you know a a undirected, way by by human, beings. The concern around biological, weaponry, in the future, is that, uh for the same reasons, that we can, uh sort of tailor make, uh you know medicines, that are that are unique to an individual, or too unique to a group of individuals. Um, you can do the exact same thing, uh, you know on the dark side, uh with respect, to biological, warfare, agents, you know specific, strains of disease. And you know it's something that i think we need to be very cognizant, of as a country, very. Uh you know focused, on as to you know what our competitors, might be doing in this uh regard. That to me is uh is is a huge area of concern. And yes the the recent pandemic, i think kind of brings that into focus. Uh to a certain extent. Um, you know it's something that i think we're going to have to all pay a lot more attention to as a country moving forward. So, my thanks to chris, for, the usual, superb, uh, account, of, these issues and let me turn this over now, to nick burns. Our leader, who will introduce, the next session. Actually, david, and chris. Since it's baseball, season let's go into extra innings i want to ask you both one more question. Before we turn to, john bolton. Chris i've been so, impressed. Over the last two or three years as you and david and i and members of the aspen strategy group have been debating this big issue. But how do we reform, the us military. How do we take advantage, of these digital, technologies. And to militarize, them so we don't lose our, competitive, edge, here's the question for both of you and david you're a, great student of this. Do we risk losing. Our military, advantage, to china. Can either of both of you or either of you foresee, a scenario. Where the united states, becomes, effectively. The number two military, power in the world because china's been more focused. On ai. On biotech. On, quantum. In. Reformulating. Those technologies, for military, purposes. I don't think any of us want to see that, but is it in the realm of the possible, if we don't act. Chris and david. So i'll take uh take a stab first and would love to have david answer as well um i think it's absolutely, a possibility. I think that uh the course that we are on, is a course that will take us there. Um. And it's it's not because we are not spending enough money it's not because we don't have access to fantastic, technology, in america, or that, uh somehow, our our you know we have less human capital, or our people are less focused. Actually we have all of that going for us. The problem that we have, is an inability, to recognize. That, if we don't change course. We're going to end up in exactly the future that you just described, where we will have lost our military, advantage. Um, and all of the attendant, consequences. That come with that you know the things that we take for granted, in terms of, uh diplomatic. Influence. Uh economic, influence, you know kind of the ability, to. Uh, you know to to sort of um. You know stand behind the things that we care about, uh with with some weight behind us, um these are all things that are going to erode, uh as we lose that uh military, competitive, edge which is something that is playing out, um i think that you know for for us to fundamentally. Change that you know it starts with the recognition. That. Um. We have to make significant, changes and we have to do it with a sense of urgency. Um, china, as you said is moving out with that sense of urgency, in a sort of nationally, mobilized, way and again we shouldn't think, we shouldn't treat them as if they're 10 feet tall. We also shouldn't minimize the challenge either. We shouldn't build ourselves, up and pat ourselves on the back to. Too much.
Because I think at the end of the day. Uh you know the. The the types of changes that we're talking about are going to be significant, they're going to have to play out for a very long period of time, and i think the thing that i would end on is even if we are successful. I don't think that we're going to get back the military, primacy, that we've enjoyed for the past 30 years, i think we are moving into a new kind of competitive, environment, where. Um. We can hope to deny, china, military, primacy, which they seek. Or military, dominance, in their region which they seek. But i think that we also have to recognize, that it's not, uh we're not going to turn the clock back to 1997. You know our 2002.. We are going to be in a fundamentally, different, and competitive. Uh you know environment, where. You know. We're going to have to rethink, about national defense. As increasingly. Sort of, how we achieve defense in the absence of dominance. But i think that's something that we can do i think that we can, sort of achieve our national security, interests. Even in the absence of the kind of military, primacy, that we've enjoyed for the recent decades. Thank you david. Nick i'm, flattered to be to be asked i'll just give two, brief. Thoughts first on that on the 10 foot tall. Question. I've recently, been looking. As carefully as i can at the. Evidence, about huawei's. Capabilities. As a, provider, of telecommunications. Gear. Of 5g. Gear. As assessed, by the british, and by. Their best experts. At gchq. Their communications. Intelligence. Arm which has a, public. National cyber, security center what's fascinating. As they've looked carefully. Is. The. Some of the weakness, in huawei's, products, the software. Is quite spotty. It's easily. A lot of holes in it that, are even vulnerable, to to, entry or manipulation. Their inability, to build their own ships mean that our entity list as designation. Of huawei. Really cutting them off from us chip making technology, means that within. British think within three to twelve months, they will be unable, to supply, their customers, so. That's, well short of ten feet, ten feet tall i could give other other examples. So i think that's important, to bear that in mind, i want to just, close with a brief point that i think is one of the most powerful ones that's in chris's, book that we haven't talked about. Chris. I i think, quite courageously. Engages. The underlying. Strategy. Question. As he thinks about. Getting the right weapons he thinks about. Using those weapons. To foster the right strategy, we've had a strategy. Really, since, our victory, in in world war ii, magnified, you could say by our victory in, the cold war, of projecting, power you know fight two wars the same time project power where we need to. This this global. Superpower. Uh intervening. Projecting. And as chris says the chinese have a very different view they want to prevent. Other people, us. From. Infringing. On their interests. And, chris if i read you right you're saying we need to think a little bit more the way the chinese, do about, having a strategy, that seeks to prevent, them from doing something that would, harm us or our allies. But but isn't really so much about trying to project power everywhere, and having these, uh grandiose. Ambitions, that lend themselves, well to the, suite of weapons that we historically, have i think that's a really creative part of what chris, uh presents, in the book and i'd urge people to take a look at those, chapters.