The fiscal year 2022 budget request reflect the pacing threat from China, as well as threats from Russia, North Korea, Iran, transnational challenges and climate change, to name a few, the deputy defense secretary said.

Kathleen H. Hicks spoke virtually from the Pentagon today at a Defense One Tech Summit.

The budget request includes a lot of joint concept work within the services, she said. “There’s lots of experimentation going on across the department. There’s also lots of innovation going on across the department.”

Hicks provided a few examples.

The Defense Department is moving from concepts to capabilities in its artificial intelligence and data accelerator initiative, she said.

“Teams will go out within the next 90 days to every single combatant command and start to tie in their data, and they’ll also have technical expert teams on AI and they’ll start looking at how to bring AI and data to the tactical edge in support of the warfighter,” she said.

The joint all-domain command and control is another big endeavor that involves innovation from all of the services, she said, adding that to bring it to fruition will require a cloud enterprise solution.

China relies on civil-military fusion, targeting government funding on civilian research related to military applications, Hicks said. 

The U.S. uses a different model, which she termed “collaborative disruption.” That model involves collaboration between private sector research institutions, commercial industry and government labs, and uses seed money from the government to fund critical technologies. Hicks said the U.S. model is much more innovative.

Hicks also noted that the budget request also prioritizes nuclear modernization, space capabilities and cybersecurity.