Miller 'cannot wait to leave' DOD, but regrets being unable to work on 'hilarious' F-35

By Tony Bertuca / January 15, 2021 at 2:42 PM

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said today he is eager to leave his job next week when President-elect Biden is inaugurated, but added that part of him wishes he could have worked on the Defense Department's notoriously challenging acquisition process.

"I cannot wait to leave this job, believe me,” he told a press gaggle today. “But part of me is like, I would have loved to have gotten involved in the acquisition process. . . . Talk about [a] wicked problem. "

Miller said he wanted to “take on” the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, noting he found it “hilarious” the United States made such a huge investment in an aircraft it is “never supposed to use” and is already planning for a replacement, sixth-generation fighter.

Miller said he recently discussed the matter with an F-35 pilot whom he said told him the fighter is needed to “deter, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

“I think it’s hilarious,” Miller told reporters. “I’m like, we have created a monster, but you know that.”

Miller became acting defense secretary in November after President Trump lost his bid for re-election and fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Miller said the Pentagon needs to abandon its Cold War mindset, noting he believes it has led to a policy “hangover” in which the United States still seeks to spend trillions of dollars on big-budget weapon systems, rather than focus more on “the information environment, domain awareness, using commercial stuff, you know, public-private partnership.”

“And we need to go smaller, swarmy,” he continued. “Quantity over quality, in some cases. That was my thinking.”

Miller is slated to leave DOD after Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist will then serve as acting defense secretary until the Senate confirms a Biden nominee.