The Insider

Shanahan: Joint Staff will drive DOD's modernization priorities

February 06, 2018 |
Justin Doubleday
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The Joint Staff is leading the Defense Department's modernization priorities under a new National Defense Strategy that homes in on countering China and Russia, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan.

"Prioritization of force development and force design is really going to be driven from the Joint Staff more-so this year," Shanahan said during a keynote address delivered today at the annual AFCEA West conference in San Diego, CA.

Additionally, "there's a forced march on what are we not going to do?" Shanahan said. "That's the elephant in the room, but that's the discipline and the commitment we're focused on."

DOD is particularly focused on integrating the military services' equipment plans to prioritize new capabilities and achieve "joint effects," according to Shanahan.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said last week the Pentagon now views Russia and China as "global" problems, rather than regional issues. The Joint Staff will develop a "global campaign plan" for each country, Selva said during a Jan. 30 Defense Writers Group breakfast.

"We'll have those two major plans, which will be in tension with one another, and that will help define the capabilities and capacities that need to be built inside the forces," he said. "Here's why they're in competition with one another: They're not the same."

Shanahan said Tuesday he wants to create such "tension" in high-level Pentagon meetings about what capabilities DOD should invest in and what should be left by the wayside.

"People have wanted to have that debate and dialogue," he added.

The deputy said he expects DOD will do "some heavy lifting" with its modernization priorities as part of the program objective memorandum for fiscal year 2020.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on Capitol Hill this morning, where he highlighted the investments DOD plans to make in its FY-19 budget request. The Pentagon, along with the rest of the federal government, is expected to submit its FY-19 budget Feb. 12.

"Next week you will see our FY-19 budget investments in the following: space and cyber, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and professional military education to provide our high-quality troops what they need to win," Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. "We will prioritize rebuilding readiness while modernizing our existing force."

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