On April 12, 2018, Wes Bush, chairman and chief executive officer, Northrop Grumman, spoke at G'Day USA which brings together industry leaders, and key influencers from Australia and the US to enhance the long-term relationship between the two nations.
Below are Wes Bush's remarks:
Thank you for this invitation to speak to you all today.
G’Day, USA grows in importance and influence every year and it is wonderful to see the growing attendance reflect the ever-increasing importance of the partnership between our countries.
This year’s theme – “National Technology and Industrial Base an underpinning of Allied Interoperability and Modernization” – nicely sums up the way our two nations defend our security, and project power when our elected leaders determine such a need.
The national security of our two countries is founded on two key principals. First, the extraordinary capabilities of our service men and women, and second, assured technological superiority brought forth within a free-market system.
This dependency on technological superiority places an enormous burden – and a commensurate responsibility – on our industrial bases for the defense of our nations, our citizens, our national interests, and our allies.
Within that context, things are only becoming more complex in a world fracturing into the multipolar.
- Hard power, soft power, and everything in between;
- Security threats that are conventional or irregular, peer and non-peer; symmetric and asymmetric;
- Challenges originating from other nations, and challenges from nationless actors;
- Threats like cyber and ballistic missiles that are no longer confined by global distances;
As I said, an enormous responsibility for our industrial bases to provide many of the capabilities to confront and overcome these challenges.
And in order to address these issues most effectively, we need to think about our industrial bases in an integrated manner.
The Australia-US relationship is among the world’s strongest. It has evolved that way through a century of mateship, shed blood, and common values. And its importance to the world continues today.
The good news is that our partnership now has an opportunity that – frankly – comes only rarely.
- First, because these many challenges have focused the attention of our nations’ leaders.
- Secondly, in light of these concerns, our leaders have seen fit to increase defense spending in both our countries to address those challenges;
- And thirdly, in our efforts to perfect a truly integrated security partnership, we are not starting from scratch. Through careful planning, good execution and continuing effort, we are well positioned to accelerate our security interoperability and modernization.
And one final piece of good news: Because our industrial bases underpin our security efforts within a free-market model, any advances we make at security interoperability and modernization, will only improve our nations’ economies.
Defense technology, after all, is always a net exporter of value into the non-defense world.
This is a perfect convergence of opportunity for the Australia-US partnership – one that only complacency could squander.
So, what must we do to keep the throttle open?
Let me start by defining our terms. What does allied interoperability and modernization look like in this 5th generation connected world?
5th generation capabilities such as the F-35 have transformed how partnerships like ours need to operate in coalition. The bottom line is that interoperability is no longer enough. Coalition forces need to be integrated to operate effectively in the new digitized battle space.
And true integration delivers solutions to all platforms, sensors and users into resilient, networked capabilities.
This is the concept behind Australia’s Plan Jericho initiative.
True integration, like that envisioned in Plan Jericho, enables the interconnection of both 5th generation and legacy platforms, into resilient networks.
It facilitates any sensor-shooter engagement and dramatically improves mission effectiveness.
But that kind of integration must be implemented across the full spectrum of national security:
- from intelligence to ISR;
- to maritime and land operations;
- to air and missile defense, and cyber and space.
Just as a coalition’s warfighters must train and integrate if they hope to be effective together in conflict, so the coalition’s industrial bases must integrate if they are to support those warfighters.
Before I continue, let me point out the changing nature of how the US defense industrial base relates to its peers in our partner nations.
It used to be that technology developed in the U.S. would be made available to select allies. A U.S. prime contractor would deliver the capability, and perhaps a supplier or two from the ally’s nation would be a part of the production team.
Those days of a largely U.S.-centric business model are drawing to a close – certainly with Australia.
Today’s relationship is more that of a net, wherein Australian firms invent, build, and export defense technology, including to the U.S., while U.S. companies rely on Australian workforces to build products in Australia for use across allied nations. This is a positive trend that must be accelerated.
This level of integration and modernization can only be brought forth through vision and effort. Let me make a few points.
First, I believe the Defense Cooperation Treaty has not yet lived up to its promise of technological collaboration and bilateral trade opportunities.
Opportunities for streamlining our collaboration need to be identified. Such opportunities might also be found in the National Technology and Industrial Base legislation.
Second, we need greater industrial engagement by the U.S. primes. Access for Australian companies to U.S. opportunities remains difficult and more needs to be done by the major U.S. primes to facilitate it. The same goes for our legislative frameworks and procurement arrangements.
A more equitable, “two-way” movement of technology will amplify the best that our countries have to offer.
Third, we need greater R&D collaboration and partnerships among companies, government labs, and universities.
While there is a good level of interchange between Australia’s Defense Science and Technology Group and U.S. government labs, the same cannot yet be said for university to university joint research and collaboration across the Pacific.
Efforts like Australia’s International Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative offers a good model for what needs to be done.
If our defense industrial bases underpin our national security, then research and development underpins our defense industrial bases.
Without robust R&D funding in our two countries, all our efforts at interoperability and modernization, integration and coalition effectiveness, will be for naught.
Our adversaries and strategic competitors are dramatically increasing their investment in R&D and innovation faster than we are – and in virtually every area, from stealth to exotic materials, to cognitive intelligence and supercomputers.
Against the current pace of technological progress, they who fall behind may never regain the lead.
And fourth, we need more cooperative programs. We have seen cooperative successes in the past – efforts associated with submarine warfare and airborne sensor platforms. This kind of engagement will need to be increased across the domains of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Electronic Warfare, Maritime Cooperative Engagement and mid-range Air & Missile Defence.
The multi-polar and uncertain environment we face today demands that Australia and the U.S. work even more closely together to strengthening this critical alliance. The watchwords must be innovation, industrial development, engagement and integration.
The future of our national security rests on collective investment in advanced technologies and the development of a strong integrated industrial base.
I’m optimistic that we will recognize this perfect convergence of;
- a challenging threat environment;
- policy and budgetary advances;
- demonstrated success of cooperative efforts;
- and clear economic benefit
as a strong motivator to more rapidly expand the depth and breadth of our partnership.
I’m optimistic because the alternative to a robust, collaborative, integrated alliance is something none of us want to contemplate.
Together, we can continue to build the benefits of the mateship that has served our two countries very well for so many years.