Brown: Joint Force Must Maintain Current Edge, Prepare for Emerging Threats

  • Published
  • By Joseph Clark
  • DOD News

The Defense Department's success in an evolving security landscape is defined by the joint force's ability to address current threats while at the same time preparing for the future, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., said yesterday.

Speaking at the Ash Carter Exchange on Innovation and National Security in Washington, Brown said this approach is critical amid rapidly emerging national security challenges. 

"The way I do think about the next three to five years is we've got to be able to achieve today and be ready for tomorrow," he said. "And so, it's how we balance the risk of being able to address today's challenges but also thinking long about the future challenges and how different events may collide and create a greater challenge for ourselves." 

Brown described a broad range of security challenges in the near term that have continued to increase in complexity since becoming the nation's highest-ranking military officer in October.      

"What I've watched over the course of the seven months, really reflecting on our national defense strategy which outlines our five challenges — the People's Republic of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and violent extremists — what I've found is that all five of those are active and, in some cases, are working together or interconnected in some form or fashion" Brown said. 

Amid these evolving threats, the U.S. has remained steadfast in partnering with allies across the globe to deter conflict. And as the world becomes increasingly complex, Brown said more countries have sought to work alongside likeminded partners to address pressing challenges.  

Brown said since assuming the chairmanship, he has held about 170 engagements with his counterparts.  

Those partnerships are evident in NATO's collective work to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia's ongoing invasion.  

They are also reshaping the Indo-Pacific, Brown said, where more nations are coming together to uphold a common vision of freedom and security in the region.  

Last week alone, Brown held in-person meetings with five of his counterparts while in Hawaii for the U.S. Indo-Pacific change of command. 

"What I'm also seeing across the Indo-Pacific is nations that have not typically worked together are starting to work together more closely in exercises," he said.   

He added that bilateral exercises, going back to his days as a junior officer, are increasingly becoming multilateral engagements. 

"That's an important aspect of us working more closely together, and an aspect of us not only having the capability, but also have the ability to deter," he said.  

Brown also emphasized the importance of DOD's ability to innovate and harness emerging technologies to stay ahead of the threat.  

Increasingly this means connecting with allies and private sector partners to get the right solutions in the hands of warfighters — a point echoed during the forum by Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, and William A. LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.  

Shyu underscored the department's work across the technology ecosystem — academia, university-affiliated research centers and commercial industries — to develop critical capabilities and deliver them at scale to the warfighter.  

This collaboration is further bolstered by new authorities that allow DOD to make loans and provide loan guarantees to small companies that may not have had the opportunity to scale innovative technologies before. 

Expanding DOD's pool of innovation is critical, Shyu said, as the U.S. confronts China's military—civil fusion strategy aimed at rapidly advancing its military technology. 

LaPlante said DOD is also increasingly with allies and partners to get key capabilities in the hands of warfighters.  

"The appetite for doing co-development, co-production [and] co-production around the world is higher than it's ever been," he said, noting that these partnerships are critical amid China's technological advances and as Russia increases its military spending amid its war in Ukraine. 

Brown said it is critical to continue the momentum and further accelerate change across the department to deter conflict and, if necessary, win any fight — now and in the future. 

"Personally, professionally, I don't play for second place," he said. "I'm putting my best foot forward to make sure we're going to win. I think our national security is at stake." 

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