Booz Allen Hamilton CEO: US needs whole-of-nation approach in its great power competition with China

It was a small item in the Asia Times—However, it was anything but small. Chinese scientists announced a breakthrough in an advanced military surveillance device designed to enhance China’s electronic warfare capabilities to detect and disrupt enemy signals at unprecedented speeds, using technology previously considered unattainable.

Other examples of China’s ambitions include its demonstrated ability to infiltrate some of the United States’ most sensitive computer systems, its plans to launch more than 1,000 satellites in the next decade to achieve space dominance, and its development of hypersonic missiles. latest generation ready to deploy.

In today’s rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape, the United States finds itself in a race against time. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become a formidable competitor and potentially dangerous adversary on multiple fronts and in multiple domains, and behind it all is China’s relentless pursuit of technological dominance.

China is willing to use that dominance not only to pursue its long-term goal of reabsorbing Taiwan into the mainland, but also to establish itself as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific and, from that basis, challenge the United States over who will set the course. rules for global order in the post-Cold War world.

As we navigate this era of great power competition amid the specter of a new cold war, we cannot afford to be complacent. The challenge to our national security is urgent.

The goal is to deter conflict with China and maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Effective deterrence requires greater speed, deeper innovation, and more intense collaboration than exists today.

To stay ahead, we must employ a vigorous, nation-wide approach to harnessing the considerable strengths of the private sector. Peace Through Strength, President Ronald Reagan’s brilliant articulation of the challenge at the end of the 20th century, must also be Peace Through Speed ​​in the context of the 21st century.

Military superiority is no longer determined solely by the size of our arsenal and the number of forces. The battlefield of the future will also be defined by communications, cyber, artificial intelligence, hypersonics and other emerging technologies whose development cycles operate with quarterly, monthly or even weekly updates.

The private sector is inherently designed to create, iterate and innovate at a rapid pace. Think about how quickly consumer electronics such as smartphones are evolving. We can update our personal devices every year to keep up with the latest advances. Why should our approach to national security be any different?

To help our country compete quickly, American companies must stay out of it. The industry must simultaneously encourage dialogue between our country and China and help our nation strengthen its defenses so that these dialogues are productive. I’ve spoken to several technology CEOs who understand the gravity of the moment and are ready to join a nation-wide approach.

A fundamental part of this transformation falls directly on the Federal Government. Speed ​​was less important in previous acquisition systems because large weapons platforms were intended to last for decades. We still fly B-52 bombers today, almost 70 years after their introduction, and an aircraft carrier is designed with a 50-year service life in mind.

A redesigned procurement system will create incentives for industry to achieve results faster, adapt commercial technologies more quickly for government use, and invite companies to invest differently than they do today.

An equal, if not deeper, transformation must occur across the private sector in three ways if American businesses are to meet this moment and prevail.

First, we must be willing to unapologetically speak up and prioritize national security and make this clear to our teams. You might be surprised at how much this resonates across our country: for every employee who may disagree, there are dozens or even hundreds (including every veteran and every immigrant I talk to) who will want to join this mission.

Second, it is imperative that we proactively make investments, even in the absence of full budget clarity, to enable rapid scale-up of solutions. While political dysfunction in Washington poses unnecessary obstacles, successful companies know how to skillfully navigate and mitigate challenges. Certain political risks can be minimized, particularly when technologies such as cybersecurity and space communications are naturally strengthened by dual use in both the public and private sectors.

And third, we must work as a team across traditional boundaries to co-create solutions that none of our companies can implement alone. We have started doing it with several technology companies. It’s hard to work together differently, especially with competitors, but for me the payoff is clear: I’m seeing the innovation cycle shrink from years to months and even weeks.

When the private sector joined the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II and moved from making cars, refrigerators, and children’s toys to tanks, ships, and airplane engines, our fighters were better supplied and better equipped, and they won the war. The industry was transformed for the greater good.

Forging lasting peace in the Indo-Pacific region requires another such transformation, and Booz Allen is committed to leading the way alongside other like-minded companies. We are prepared to support our nation and our government in new and unconventional ways to meet this moment and create a model of collaboration that can go beyond national security: climate, infrastructure and health care.

By harnessing the ingenuity of the private sector and partnering with our government in new ways, we can achieve Peace Through Speed, rising together as a nation to usher in a new era of peace and stability for generations to come. The time to act is now.

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