WASHINGTON, May 25, 2016 —
Even with troubles in other parts of the world, it is still crucial the United States continue its rebalance to East Asia and the Pacific, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Naval War College provides continuing military education for mid-grade and senior military officers from all branches of the armed services, as well as civilian government officials and naval officers from more than 100 countries.
Given the threats around the world, DoD “must do it all,” Carter told the students.
The United States must engage in the “long-term competitive situation” with Russia and China, the secretary said. “Since they are at the higher end and have generally greater geographic reach than others, that is a stretch for our capabilities, but we are investing a lot in them,” he said.
The secretary called the Asia-Pacific region “the single region in the world of most consequence.” The area is home to most of world’s population and some of the largest economies.
On top of this competition are the problems posed by Iran and North Korea, and the war on violent extremism, he told the students.
These are the five known threats, Carter said, but the U.S. government has a perfect score in the historical record on divining future threats: “We have never gotten this right.”
He said the question is can the United States do it all, given these threats and the available resources?
“We can do it all,” the defense secretary said, but only if the resources are provided and the threat of sequestration is removed. “I think we have the right mindset,” he said. “We have determination, we have public support … a lot of people around the world like to work with you.”
Carter said he is worried that the bipartisan budget deal, which gave DoD financial stability for two years, could collapse. “We need stability,” he said. “We need stability to plan, our industries need stability, our people need to know what their future is, our friends need to know we are with them [and] our enemies need to know we’re strong.”
The secretary told the students that he opposes a proposal in the proposed National Defense Authorization Act that would separate the research and engineering portion of the department from procurement. The problem in acquisition isn’t that the two entities are too close, Carter said, it is that they aren’t close enough.
“I couldn’t support something that supports that separation, I just know better,” he said.
The defense secretary said he would like to see the service chiefs have more responsibility for acquisition, but they will have to learn the system. Most of the service chiefs came up through the ranks during the Cold War era, when DoD was handling the process, he said.
“That was a time when we never actually did anything, we just got ready to do things,” Carter said. “Getting ready to do things was what made you proficient in your service. Acquisition executives rose to the top. We’ve had a more operational set of decades and we tend to have more operators at the top, but they need to get into the game.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)