Steve Blank Reorganizing the DoD to Defend China and Defeat Ukraine – A Roadmap for Congress


This article originally appeared on Defense News. Co-written with Joe Felter and Pete Newell.

Today, the US is supporting a proxy war with Russia while at the same time trying to prevent China’s cross-border invasion of Taiwan. Both are wake-up calls that victory and defense in modern warfare are determined by state power. Both Using traditional weapons systems while simultaneously rapidly acquiring, deploying, and integrating commercial technologies (drones, satellites, targeting software, etc.) into operations at every level.

Ukraine’s military is not burdened by DoD’s 65-year territorial process and 20th-century operational concepts. It’s about learning and adapting on the fly. China has taken a “whole nation” approach. This allowed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to combine private capital and commercial technology, using it as a force multiplier, to control the South China Sea and prepare for a transcontinental invasion of Taiwan.

DoD did none of these. Although it is currently organized and organized to implement traditional weapons systems and operational concepts with traditional suppliers and research centers, it is not ready to integrate commercial technologies and private capital to a degree.

Copying Secdef’s Ash Carter’s 2015 strategy, China will engage in civil/military fusion, a coordinated whole-of-government effort to harness these disruptive commercial technologies for its national security needs. To develop defense-critical technologies, China has injected $900 billion in private capital into the Civil/Military Investment Fund to finance state-owned enterprises’ new shipyards, aircraft and avionics. Worse still, China will learn from Russia’s failure in Ukraine and use it with ever-increasing speed.

But unlike America’s main strategic rival, the US has so far been unwilling and unable to adapt and adopt new systems and operational concepts at the pace of our adversaries. These include vulnerable systems, autonomous systems, swarms, and other new defense platforms that threaten legacy systems, existing providers, organizations, and cultures. (To this day, the US effort is still born with half-hearted support for its own Defense Innovation Unit and lost capabilities such as the US military’s rapid weapons force.)

Viewing the DoD budget as a zero-sum game has made major defense chiefs and K-street lobbyists prey for DoD organizational innovation that threatens their business models. Using private capital could be a force multiplier, adding $100 billion outside of the DoD budget.. Today, private capital has lost interest in participating in national security and incentives have been combined to ensure that the US military is organized and structured and won the wars of the past century. The US is therefore on a collision course for a catastrophic failure in a future conflict. Only Congress can change this equation.

The US should create a DoD to defend and defeat China. Both strategy and redesigned organization To receive those unused external resources – private capital and business innovation. Currently, DoD lacks a unified plan and an organization with the budget and authority to do so.

A reorganized and refocused DoD can acquire traditional weapons systems simultaneously by rapidly acquiring, deploying, and integrating commercial technologies. Creates a national industrial policy that encourages a new industrial base in 21st century shipyards, drones and satellite factories and along the lines of CHIPS and Innovation and Competitiveness Acts.

Congress should act to identify and implement changes within the DoD to streamline its organization and structure. These include:

  1. Create a new defense ecosystem that uses foreign business innovation ecosystems and private capital as a force multiplier. Federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) focus on areas not covered by commercial technology (kinetics, energetics, nuclear, and hypersonics) using prime contractors’ advanced technology and complex systems integrations.
  2. Reorganization of DoD Research and Engineering. Allocate budget and resources equally between traditional sources of innovation and new sources of business innovation and capital. Pay the OSD R&E organization in half. Focus on the current state of the organization. Create a Peer Organization – Secretary of Defense for Business Innovation and Private Capital.
  3. Scale up the new Office of Strategic Capital (OSC) and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to be the lead agencies in this new organization.. Give them Budget and authority To do this and provide the same methods to provide the services.
  4. Reorganize DoD acquisition and support. Allocate the budget and resources equally between traditional sources of production and creating new ones Arsenal from the 21st century – New shipyards, drone manufacturers, etc. – 1,000s of low-cost and scalable systems can be built.
  5. Join the Alliance. Expand the National Security Innovation Base (NSIB) into the Union Security Innovation Base. Source business technology from partners.

Why does it reach Congress?

National authority is temporary. Countries fall when they lose allies, economic power, interest in international affairs, internal/public conflicts, or disruptive technological transitions and new operating concepts.

The issue may be that all of these are or are happening in the US.

There is historical precedent for congressional action to ensure that the DoD is organized to fight and win our wars. The Goldwater/Nichols Act of 1986 laid the groundwork for coordinated and effective joint operations by organizing the military services and the role of the Joint Chiefs and creating Joint Staff and Combatant Commands. The U.S. Congress should immediately establish a commission to address Ukraine and China’s hegemony in the South China Sea and what reforms and changes are needed to ensure the U.S. can fight and win our future wars.

Even if the DoD units understand that we are in a crisis to prevent or, failing that, to win the war in the South China Sea, the DoD generally shows little urgency and misses one crucial point: China will not delay solving Taiwan, putting it on our schedule. To fulfill our days, Russia will not forward its future plans to attack. We must act now.

Failure to do so is at our peril and the peril of all those who depend on US security for survival.

In China, national security, technological innovation and great energy competition


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