Bipartisan Task Force Focuses on Future

Bipartisan Task Force Focuses on Future

Chinese army soldiers in training
Photo by: U.S. Army

A bipartisan House Armed Services Committee task force that spent a year focused on the challenging strategic environment facing the U.S. sees a window of opportunity for progress.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute, task force leaders Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana said DoD faces a pivotal period as it confronts current and evolving threats that require new concepts in warfighting and new technologies at a time when money to pay for the improvements could be scarce.

Moulton said the task force findings “are not entirely revolutionary.”

“We recognize that China presents the greatest national security challenge looking ahead for the next 30 to 50 years. We recognize the immediate threat of Russia, and we recognize the need to invest in innovative new technologies like artificial intelligence, biotech, other things that other people have reported are important for our national security,” he said.

The crisis is that the U.S. needs to act now to avoid being left behind China in capabilities. “We will lose if we don't make dramatic changes to the Department of Defense in terms of our prioritization of resources, how we invest in new technologies and necessarily how we get rid of some of the old technologies to make room for these new investments.”

This is the same point Army leaders have been making by prioritizing modernization and cutting funds for some legacy programs.

Banks described the task force report as a “wake-up call” to Congress and the American people to support innovations in defense programs. A revolution is needed in artificial intelligence; the U.S. needs to do a better job of protecting critical technologies from theft; more cooperation is needed between innovators, investors and entrepreneurs; and the U.S. needs to create a workforce with better science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Whatever technology is found to provide U.S. military advances “has to be affordable,” Moulton said. “The future of our country depends on it. The reality of the budgetary environment is that there isn’t going to be much money to spend on defense,” he said, optimistically predicting that new technologies could be less expensive than maintaining older legacy systems.

The task force report is available here.