In his September message to the DoD team, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, encouraged the department to reflect on its accomplishments and set clear, specific, and ambitious goals for FY19.
“A year ago, we released the first National Defense Strategy in a decade, characterized by three lines of effort: restore readiness and modernize capabilities for a more lethal force, strengthen alliances and attract new partners, and reform the Department. Since then, we have relentlessly implemented that strategy, driving strong results,” Shanahan wrote.
To restore readiness and deliver combat credible forces to deter adversaries, DoD eliminated layers of approval to accelerate acquisition, invested in new planes, ships, and munitions, revitalized ships and helicopters, and added more than 20,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.
“As we accelerate and scale our efforts this year, we should adopt existing solutions wherever possible. Copying best practices and using off-the-shelf equipment isn’t as easy as going to the hardware store, but it’s faster and cheaper than recreating the wheel. We must redirect our resources to more complex challenges,” Shanahan wrote.
To modernize the acquisition and sustainment cycles, DoD split AT&L and charged the newly created R&E with developing next generation weapons. The department completed a Nuclear Posture Review, funded nuclear modernization, accelerated new missile defense capabilities, and established the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Close Combat Lethality Task Force and Army Futures Command to rapidly deliver new capabilities, Shanahan wrote.
“To develop doctrine and capabilities for our two new warfighting domains, we elevated U.S. Cyber Command, released a Cyber Posture Review and strategy, and pressed forward with the Space Force. The next critical step is a FY2020 strategy-driven budget that integrates plans to transition from technology demonstrations to development and fielding, with the outcomes and timelines to dominate a new era of great power competition,” Shanahan noted.
To strengthen relationships, Secretary Mattis, combatant commanders, and other senior leaders traveled extensively, demonstrating U.S. commitment to allies and partners. Foreign military sales grew 62 percent over three years and exercises grew 17 percent over two, enhancing interoperability.
In Europe, the department U.S. force rotations and NATO boosted spending by $42 billion since 2016.
“In Asia, we normalized freedom of navigation with operations in the South China Sea, strengthened partners’ sovereignty with the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative, and signed a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement with India. Jordan, Qatar, and the UAE have expressed their intent to join the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and we have welcomed an additional 11 nations to the D-ISIS coalition over the past two years, liberating 99% of the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria working by, with, and through our partners. As we continue to build relationships, remember that relationships aren’t monolithic, they’re complex. We will agree with our partners in some places and disagree in others,” Shanahan wrote.
Efforts to reform the department for better performance, accountability, and affordability are ongoing. To this end, the DoD launched the largest-ever consolidated audit and is cutting bureaucracy, he noted.
“We’ve begun to streamline and modernize our IT network, simplify contracting and purchasing, and consolidate care within the Defense Health Agency to improve patient care and medical readiness,” Shanahan wrote.
Shanahan noted that the F-35 contract was renegotiated to increase performance and lower costs, and the inefficient Defense Travel System is being replaced.
“As we deepen our reform efforts, I encourage you to embrace enterprise solutions. A custom, federated approach may seem attractive, but it’s a trap. Our teammates deserve a modern environment, the Department deserves standardization, and the taxpayers deserve the corresponding dividend,” Shanahan wrote.
Finally, he urged the DoD to remember that the nation is in fierce competition with near peers.
“As we attack a new fiscal year, aim high and continue to raise the bar on performance. The question is not, ‘are we getting better?’ It’s ‘are we good enough to win?’ We must win against our competitors,” Shanahan wrote.
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