Emerging Technologies: Response to the Senate Armed Service Committee’s Questions for Dr Kathleen Hicks
Dr. Kathleen Hicks Confirmation Hearing
On February 2, 2021, the Senate Armed Service Committee spearheaded by Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Inhofe held a hearing for Dr. Kathleen Hicks who is before her appointment as Deputy Secretary of Defense. Prior to the confirmation hearing, Dr. Kathleen Hicks provided a written statement in response to the Committee’s questions about her duties and qualifications as Deputy Secretary of Defense. With the recent release of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Industrial Capabilities Report, a myriad of different questions were posed regarding the goal of preserving and protecting the defense industrial base as a central goal in protecting U.S. military dominance.
The first line of questioning surrounded what Dr. Kathleen Hicks believed were the most significant challenges facing the military industrial base. Dr. Hicks ascertains that uncertain government spending, complex government business and procurement are challenges facing the military industrial base along with the challenges that have followed COVID-19. Additionally, she mentioned that competitive pressure from international actors with regards to the growing global military expenditures has put pressure on our military industrial base. However, there were many suggestions as to possible corrective policies that could go toward strengthening our military industrial and manufacturing base. Dr. Hicks explained “I would ensure the Department works with interagency partners to develop appropriate incentives to spur innovation, maintain and expand domestic industrial capabilities and leverage allied and partner strengths to secure critical components.” In sum, support and innovation from our military industrial and manufacturing base is key to addressing the myriad of pressing issues surrounding the health of our industrial base.
Similarly, a series of questions established the role of the DoD in supporting domestic business actors and economic health in general. In response to this line of questions, Dr. Hicks stressed that the DoD must adopt a stronger cooperative relationship with interagency partners and provide the demand for domestic firms and actors to protect critical supply chains and reduce the reliance on the Chinese military industrial base. Moreover, it was stressed that cooperation with our allies was essential because “The department is most effective when it is working in concert with other tools of national power. Our military strength bolsters the work of our diplomats, reinforces our alliances and partnerships, and strengthens our prosperity.” In other words, the United States must take proactive measures to secure our domestic industrial base and limit China’s military modernization while supporting our allies around the globe.
Lastly, the Senate Armed Service Committee questioned how the DoD would better leverage its partners in the National Technology and Industrial Base, other allies, and partners to strengthen the supply chains supporting defense acquisition programs. Dr. Hicks reaffirmed the Biden Administration’s commitment to working with international partners to develop cooperation and collaboration on programs to ensure the health and protection of our military industrial supply chain. This reaffirms the position of the DoD in the recent Industrial Capabilities Report which stressed the recent emergence of new advanced technologies requires cooperation, collaboration, and proper leverage is required to have a military industrial base that is trusted to protect the DoD’s supply chain. In short, Dr. Kathleen Hicks enumerated a strong message surrounding the necessity for efficiency and accountability at the DoD with regards to business operations and regulatory connections between Congress and the military industrial base.