Agenda | September 7, 2022


Sen. Jack Reed

U.S. Congress


Dr. William LaPlante

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment


European defense and NATO’s next test

Europe faces its greatest crisis since World War II as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, a move that has generated repercussions for many neighboring countries. What are the implications of this new environment, not just for the United States but its European partners? And what are the expectations for NATO members as they fortify commitments and delineate new responsibilities and counter-measures? 


The Army’s top priorities

As the nature of modern warfare changes, the US Army has had to adapt, altering everything from its battlefield tactics to how it recruits and retains soldiers. To address those challenges, the service has focused on innovation, digital initiatives and data-driven strategies and operating methods. Top modernization priorities include the Future Vertical Lift initiative, electrification of the ground vehicle fleet and a new night-vision goggle with thermal, navigation, augmented reality, marksmanship and other features embedded.


The Air Force in 2022

The Air Force has focused on modernizing and ridding itself of legacy systems that won’t be prepared for great-power competition. To that end, the service plans to divest more than 200 airplanes in 2022. But it’s not just planes. The Air Force is focused on maintaining and developing nuclear forces and hypersonics as well as growing the Space Force. The service is also continuing to invest in its F-22 and F-35 fighters. All of these changes are meant to help the Air Force be ready for conflicts with near-peer competitors.


The state of the Navy

The Navy’s top priority for 2022 has been readiness and sustainment, while also preparing for the future through its Project Overmatch initiative. The main piece of the readiness and sustainment puzzle is the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, a 20-year effort to modernize the Navy’s four public naval repair yards. Project Overmatch is the Navy’s foundation for the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept. Where do those projects stand, and what does the Navy see as the next steps?


Hypersonics defense

Hypersonics have the capacity to maneuver and change course in air at altitudes far below conventional ballistic missiles, creating a major advantage for the country that masters the technology first. The Space Development Agency and Missile Defense Agency are coordinating efforts on a layered, systems-of-systems defense that can identify and eliminate these missiles, but is it enough? What challenges are standing in the way to next-gen interceptor technologies such as directed energy? And does the Pentagon have adequate command-and-control architectures needed to realize hypersonic missile defense? 


Energy and environment security

Adversaries launch a cyberattack against an aging utility infrastructure, already struggling to handle demand during weather extremes. A hurricane supercharged by a warming ocean devastates a military base on the East Coast, while an uncontrolled wildfire forces evacuation of military bases on the West Coast. In the heartland, widespread flooding cripples military infrastructure and pulls in National Guardsmen from several states to respond. It’s not a disaster movie—it’s the new reality of energy and environment security, demanding targeted responses to multiple threats that are far more evasive and harder to defeat than an enemy on a battlefield. How can the services defend against such threats, and what steps can be taken to ensure energy resiliency and defend against the destabilizing effects of climate change?

  • Joseph Bryan, Chief Sustainability Officer & Senior Advisor for Climate, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment & Energy Resilience


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