Agenda | September 6, 2023

8:55AM EST

Welcome Remarks

  • Mike Gruss, Editor-in-chief, Defense News

9:00AM EST

Fireside Chat

  • Gen. Eric Smith, Assistant Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Moderated by: Megan Eckstein, Naval Warfare Reporter, Defense News

9:35AM EST

Fireside Chat

  • Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Moderated by: Noah Robertson, Pentagon Reporter, Defense News

9:55AM EST

The Air Force’s top priority: Maintaining air superiority

The service is rapidly transforming to fight a future high-end war – everything from new strategies for deploying airmen and aircraft to how it will fly alongside the Navy and Marine Corps to its planned fleet of so-called collaborative combat aircraft – autonomous, AI-driven drones that would fly into combat alongside piloted F-35 fighters and even the futuristic Next Generation Air Dominance platform. But how will the Air Force shift to make these changes – and ensure it will have enough fighters to counter a peer adversary such as China?

Industry Chat:

  • Brian Zimmerman, Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Moderated by: Mike Gruss, Editor-in-chief, Defense News

Fireside Chat:

  • Gen. Mark D. Kelly, Commander, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Force
  • Lt. Gen. James Slife, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, U.S. Air Force
  • Moderated by: Stephen Losey, Air Warfare Reporter, Defense News

10:40AM EST

Force Design 2030 and the Marine Corps

The U.S. Marine Corps updated its Force Design 2030 modernization plans earlier this year to reflect ongoing experimentation and wargames. The Corps is eyeing longer-range operations, a greater flow of information to support these missions and an older and more cross-trained force to conduct them. What priority-driven changes can we expect from the Marine Corps in 2023 and leading up to 2030? In this discussion, the Defense News Conference will examine the latest Marine Corps advances in technology and training and how the service plans to realize its 2030 vision.

  • Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Moderated by: Megan Eckstein, Naval Warfare Reporter, Defense News

11:15AM EST

Fireside Chat

  • Jason Rathje, Director, Office of Strategic Capital, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Moderated by: Courtney Albon, Reporter, Space and Emerging Technologies, C4ISRNET

11:35AM EST

View from the Hill

A narrowly divided Congress is struggling to address some of its most foundational duties, from passing a defense budget to confirming high-ranking officers. This typically bipartisan work is stalling in the face of partisan divisions over culture wars in the military and spending levels as well as an internal Republican rift over Ukraine aid, particularly in the House. The ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., joins us to offer his views on the path forward.  

Industry Chat:

  • Rita Flaherty, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, GE Aerospace
  • Moderated by: Mike Gruss, Editor-in-chief, Defense News

Fireside Chat:

  • Rep. Adam Smith, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Moderated by: Bryant Harris, Congress Reporter, Defense News

12:05PM EST

Lunch Break

12:35PM EST

Fireside Chat

  • Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Moderated by: Marjorie Censer, Editor, Defense news

1:00PM EST

The state of play in Europe

As war in Ukraine wages on into 2023, the United States and its NATO allies have agreed to send out modern battle tanks to strengthen Kyiv’s defenses against Russian forces and help reclaim taken territory. With the provision of both M1 Abrams tanks from the U.S. and Leopard 2 battle tanks from Germany and other European countries, some western officials believe this to be a turning point in the war in Ukraine, though unique challenges lay ahead. What implications or consequences are European NATO allies facing as a result of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine? In this panel discussion, Defense News Conference will examine the latest happening in Ukraine and allied countries throughout Europe, and what must happen in 2023 to ensure their triumph against major aggressors and adversaries like Russia.

Fireside Chat:

  • Laura Cressey, Director, Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Michael F. Miller, Deputy Director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Kusti Salm, Permanent Secretary, Estonian Ministry of Defense
  • Moderated by: Bryant Harris, Congress Reporter, Defense News

1:35PM EST

Army modernization priorities in ’24

The year 2023 is a big one for the U.S. Army, as a number of its modernization priorities will be delivered to soldiers for either testing or use in the field, including systems in the long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle and synthetic training environment categories. The Army is also focused on the next stages of Project Convergence, its piece of the joint all-domain command and control initiative. Other top priorities include continuing to reshape the Army through recruiting, retention and training initiatives. In this panel discussion, Defense News Conference will focus on how the Army is meeting both its future goals and its current needs as it continues to carry out its modernization strategy.

Industry Chat:

  • Jeremy Tondreault, President, BAE Systems Platform & Services
  • Moderated by: Mike Gruss, Editor-in-chief, Defense News

Fireside Chat:

  • Gabe Camarillo, Under Secretary, U.S. Army
  • Moderated by: Jen Judson, Land Warfare Reporter, Defense News

2:15PM EST

The Future of Defense Technology

The U.S. invests substantially in defense technology to maintain military supremacy while deterring adversaries and responding to emerging threats. With consistent breakthroughs in advanced weaponry, cybersecurity measures, surveillance systems, military communication networks, what does the future look like? How will such future developments redefine military roles, impact decision making, and shape the global security landscape? How will the future of defense technology bring us towards enhanced capability, preparedness and safety and what’s left to accomplish? In this Defense News Conference discussion panel, military leaders and experts will explore their insights on the future of defense technology and what is being done currently to prepare the U.S. military for that trajectory. Panelists will also discuss the implications of adopting cutting-edge technologies while addressing challenges of interoperability.

Fireside Chat:

  • Joseph P. Larson III, Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Schuyler Moore, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Central Command
  • Moderated by: Colin Demarest, Reporter, Defense IT and Networks, C4ISRNET

2:45PM EST

Closing Remarks


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