The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), on 25 May, held a hearing to consider the nominations of three nominees for senior Department of Defense (DoD) positions. The three-hour hearing can be viewed here.

The Honorable Heidi Shyu, nominated by the President for the position of Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and who has been serving on the boards of various corporations, offered the following in her opening statement:

“DoD should also take steps to change its internal investment strategy. Today, sustainment makes up 70% of total weapon system cost, with development and procurement making up 30%. DoD should strive to flip this ratio and invest more in the development of new technologies than it does in the sustainment of legacy systems. To begin changing this ratio, I believe that several core principles should guide DoD’s pivot towards modernization. For example, DoD should:

  • Prioritize investments in emerging technologies and capabilities such as artificial intelligences, hypersonics, and synthetic biology;
  • Create networked systems-of-systems that collect and share information securely, and are robust against cyber and electronic warfare threats;
  • Reduce the military’s logistics footprint by developing advanced materials and increasing fuel efficiency;
  • Design secure, robust, and upgradable software; and
  • Widen the pipeline of STEM talent and ensure that talent is diverse.”

Ms. Shyu’s 47-page response to Advance Policy Questions (APQ) is located here.

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Susanna V. Blume, nominated by the President for the position of DoD Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), and who has been at the Center for a New American Security think tank “working on ideas for improving DoD’s decision making processes and mechanisms to drive innovation throughout the Joint Force” said in her opening statement that:

“If confirmed, I look forward to… continuing CAPE’s long and proud tradition of rigorous independent analysis while also pursuing reforms necessary to ensure that the U.S. military remains the world’s preeminent fighting force well into the future.”

Ms. Blume’s 25-page response to Advance Policy Questions (APQ) is located here.

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The Honorable Frank Kendall, nominated by the President for the position of Secretary of the Air Force after a long history of military and civilian service, said in his opening statement:

“If confirmed, my priorities would be straightforward and mirror precisely those articulated by Secretary of Defense Austin as they apply to the Department of the Air Force; taking care of our people, mission performance, and building teams. Our military is people first and foremost. The Air and Space Forces aren’t just equipment and concepts of operation. At its heart, they are the people who operate, create, and support those things. We have to do everything we can to ensure that our people have the training, the equipment, and the support they need to do their jobs, and we have to ensure that they can do those jobs in an environment that treats everyone with dignity and respect and maximizes their potential to grow and serve the nation. With regard to mission performance, I believe the range and severity of the threats that we face and will face, the rapid pace of technological innovation, and the need to rapidly harness that technology in new operational concepts demands a sense of urgency and a laser like focus on getting our choices right. Finally, teamwork is critical, and it covers a lot of territory. Every member of a military family, every member of the total force, active, guard and reserve, the civil servants, and the industry that supports our military are all part of the team. America has an enormous strategic asset in our alliances and partnerships and one of the key roles of our armed forces is to support American diplomacy.”

Mr. Kendall’s 58-page APQ is here.