Securing Oceans, Internet,
and Space, Domains that Drive Prosperity
Secretary of Defense Speech : Remarks
on “Securing the Oceans, the Internet, and Space: Protecting the Domains that
Drive Prosperity” (The Commonwealth Club of California), As Delivered by
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, San Francisco, California, March 1, 2016. (DoD
Thanks, Gloria [Duffy], so much. What a wonderful, warm
introduction. And Gloria left herself out of that story, and I want to get back
to that in just one moment, old pal. I also want to recognize Secretary Perry,
Secretary Schultz. Thanks both. Many other distinguished guests here. Thanks all
of you for coming.
One of my core goals in this job has been to build, and in
some cases to rebuild, the bridges between the Pentagon and America’s
wonderfully innovative and strong technology community. When I visited here the
first time as Secretary of Defense back last April, I discovered that I was the
first Secretary of Defense to have visited Silicon Valley in almost 20 years. So
today, it’s my pleasure to be here on my third official trip in that time to the
Bay Area to speak with you about the common challenges we face and the
extraordinary opportunities that we share.
Now, almost a quarter century ago, Gloria and I had the
privilege of working together for Bill Perry in the Defense Department during
those critical days after the end of the Cold War. It was evident then, as it
was after the end of World War II, that America would be called upon to stand as
the world’s foremost leader, partner, and underwriter of stability and security
in every region of the world. It’s a role we continue to fulfill today, even as
we’re now entering a new strategic era. And as I mentioned that – those former
times – I need to say that we take it for granted now, but without the effort of
Gloria Duffy who was carrying out our program for Secretary Perry and me, those
nuclear weapons would not have been removed from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and
Belarus. That is a historic achievement. So there you go.
I came from Washington where last week I laid out our defense
budget for 2017. In that budget, we are and we need to take a long view in our
mission to defend the United States. We have to, because even as we fight
today’s fights, we must also be prepared for what might come 10, 20, or 30 years
down the road. This is particularly important today, because today’s security
environment, like everything else, is rapidly changing. It’s competitive. It’s
dramatically different from the last 25 years. It’s going to require of us new
ways of investing and operating for the U.S. military.
Five evolving challenges – namely Russia, China, North Korea,
Iran, and terrorism – now drive DoD’s planning and budgeting. And I want to
describe briefly each of them to you before I dive more deeply into some issues
that I know are top-of-mind for this particular community.
The first two of the five challenges reflect a return, in
some ways, to great power competition. One is in Europe, where we’re taking a
strong and balanced approach to deter Russian aggression. The second challenge
is in the Asia-Pacific, the single most consequential region for America’s
future, where China is rising, which is fine, but behaving aggressively, which
Now, we don’t desire conflict with either of those countries,
and while I need to say that they pose some similar challenges militarily, they
are very different nations and very different situations, and our preference is
to work together with important nations. But we also cannot blind ourselves to
their apparent goals and actions.
And meanwhile, two other longstanding challenges pose threats
in specific regions. North Korea is one; that’s why our forces on the Korean
Peninsula remain ready, as they say and have said for decades now, to “fight
tonight.” The other is Iran, because while the nuclear accord is a good deal for
preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, we must still deter Iranian
aggression and malign influence against our allies and friends, particularly
The fifth challenge – very different from the other four,
very important – is our ongoing fight against terrorism, and especially ISIL,
which we must and will deal a lasting defeat, most immediately in its parent
tumor in Iraq and Syria, where we’re accelerating our campaign in every
dimension, as well as where ISIL is metastasizing around the world. We’re doing
that in North Africa. We’re doing that in Afghanistan, where we continue to
stand with the Afghan government and people to counter Al Qaida, and now ISIL.
And all the time, all the while, we’re continuing to work with other government
agencies to protect our people here in the homeland.
We don’t have the luxury of choosing among these challenges.
But we do have the ability to set a course for the future: a future that’s
uncertain but will surely be competitive and demanding of America’s leadership,
values, and military edge. That’s why a common theme across our budget is that
DoD has to innovate to be competitive in a competitive world – as I like to say,
we in the Pentagon need to think outside of our five-sided box. And that’s why,
just to give you one measure, we’re spending $71.8 billion on research and
development next year alone, constantly increasing. For a little local context,
that is more than double what Intel, Apple, and Google spent on R&D last year
That money, those funds go to fund things like making DoD the
leader, a leader in cybersecurity – more on that later – advancing our
commanding lead in undersea capabilities, and developing new hypersonic missiles
that can fly over five times the speed of sound. It involves advancing
artificial intelligence, autonomy, and robotics, so that no matter what our
enemies throw at our systems, they just work. It enables taking long-existing
systems and giving them surprising new capabilities. And it invests in new
strategic approaches to preventing and winning conflicts against 21st century
All this reflects our understanding of how much technology
development has changed in recent decades. When I began my career, most
technology of consequence originated in America, and much of that was sponsored
by the government, especially by DoD. Today, much more technology is commercial.
And as many of you know, the competition is global.
For these reasons, our budget also invests hundreds of
millions of dollars next year in building and rebuilding bridges with America’s
technology and business community, including here in the Bay Area. Because we
need a strong partnership to succeed in the 21st century, to protect our people
and make a better world for our children. One way we’re reaching out is through
our Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx as we call it, which I opened
in Mountain View last year to explore different ways – a variety of different
ways – for DoD to better tap into the region’s innovation ecosystem and build
relationships with local companies, some of which I’ll be meeting with later
today. And we’re still exploring, we’re still innovating because we want to be
iterative, we want to be agile. Another example is the Manufacturing Innovation
Institutes that we’re co-funding with the private sector in key technology
frontiers, including the one focused on flexible hybrid electronics located in
San Jose. There, over 30 of our partner organizations have a presence between
Silicon Valley and the Golden Gate Bridge, including companies from Apple to
Lockheed Martin to Xerox. We opened that a few months ago on my previous visit.
We’re making these investments here because our military must
always be capable enough to deter even the most advanced future threats in a
changing and competitive world. And this means that just like competitive
companies here in the Bay Area, we have to innovate and seize opportunities in
everything we do.
Just as companies here are constantly restructuring and
reevaluating their approaches to their competitors, we too at DoD are doing the
same, making our contingency plans and our operations more flexible and more
dynamic in every region. I can’t talk about this much here, but it’s yet another
place where our military commanders excel over others.
Just as companies here compete furiously for the best talent,
we in DoD must do the same. It’s an all-volunteer force. That’s why we’re
building what I call the Force of the Future. Because as good as our technology
is, it’s nothing compared to our people. They are what make our military the
world’s finest fighting force. And in the future we must continue to recruit and
retain the very best talent from future generations. That’s also why we’re
opening all combat positions to women, to expand our access to 100 percent of
Americans for our all-volunteer force. Competing for good people for an
all-volunteer force is a critical part of our military edge, and everyone should
understand this need and my commitment to it.
And just as companies here in San Francisco continually seek
greater efficiency to benefit both their customers and their shareholders, we in
DoD are pushing Congress for much-needed reforms across our enterprise – from
acquisition reform, to closing bases that we don’t need, to reducing overhead –
so that your taxpayer dollars will be spent more wisely, and so that our troops
get everything they need to succeed and come home safely.
We’re doing all these things to make sure that the remarkable
stability and prosperity that’s been achieved in the Asia-Pacific region and
around the world can endure. Trade requires safe passage. Investment requires
stability. Innovation requires freedom. And each of these requires security.
It’s been said that security is like oxygen; when you have
enough of it, you tend to pay no attention to it, but when there isn’t – when
you don’t have it, it’s all you can think of. Security is what enables the
stability and success of global markets, and the very foundation that shapes the
global order depends on the physical and perceived security that the Department
of Defense provides.
Whether you think about it or not, this community right here
can and will continue to thrive because that foundation has been rock-solid –
from the seas to space to cyberspace. Indeed, the Bay Area’s prosperity depends
on connectivity to the wider world and stable markets enriched by global
investments. It always has. First as a port in the Gold Rush through to the
present. And now today, this community thrives because of an open global
marketplace, including over the Internet. And increasingly, many tech leaders
here are now seeking to reach above the sky, building and launching
path-breaking satellite and space technology – a reflection of how the world
looks here, to you in the Bay Area, it looks to you to see what that next great
thing will be.
In these three critical domains – the oceans, the Internet,
and outer space – continuing to ensure the free movement of information, goods,
and services will require the private sector and DoD to work together. And it
will require fresh thinking – in the Bay Area, yes, but also in Washington – to
chart a future that brings a common benefit, and a common wealth, to all of us.
We’ve done this before. Seventy years of security, stability
and prosperity on both sides of the Pacific didn’t happen on its own. Neither
did the extraordinary leaps that allowed us to network the world and reach for
the stars. All three were a product of hard work and focus by generations of
individuals – military and civilian, government and industry alike – who stepped
forward together to build that prosperous future. The government helped ignite
the spark, but this was the place that nurtured the flame that created
incredible applications. Now, we must do so once again, and renew and strengthen
our partnership, lest others chart the future instead of us.
Let me begin with the guiding example of the sea. San
Francisco’s history, as I noted, is inextricably trade – tied to trade in the
Pacific. The remarkable diversity of commerce and people who’ve crossed the
Golden Gate over the centuries proves that the Pacific has never been the domain
of any one nation; it belongs to and benefits all.
But that common benefit relies upon a foundation of stability
and peace. Since the end of World War II, the United States and our military
have played an indispensable role in helping create that foundation of security,
allowing people, economies, and countries to rise, prosper, innovate, and win –
first Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, then the nations of Southeast Asia, and now,
yes, China and India. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted into the
middle class. And in many nations, democracies have taken hold.
America’s policy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific is about
sustaining this progress and maintaining our pivotal role to ensure stability
and prosperity in a changing region. The U.S. Navy patrols the seas to ensure
the free flow of commerce, as we have for generations, not only for the United
States but for every nation. We will also continue to forge stronger bonds
between the nations of this critical region, including the bonds between our
respective defense industries. When we build things together, the bonds between
nations grow stronger, and others can share the burden of common defense. We’ll
also continue to provide defense systems to friends and allies and train with
them to advance the maritime security of all our nations – as we’re doing
increasingly, as more Asia-Pacific nations, from India, through Vietnam to Japan
are drawn to partner more with us. And we’re investing in this in our budget too,
with, for example, a $425-million Maritime Security Initiative for Southeast
Now, to be clear, America’s efforts in this region have never
been aimed at holding any nation back or pushing any country down. The United
States wants every nation to have the opportunity to rise and that includes
China. We welcome its rise and its inclusion in this architecture. But we don’t
welcome aggressive behavior.
We all have a fundamental stake in the security of maritime
Asia, including in the South China Sea. Nearly 30 percent of the world’s
maritime trade transits its waters annually, including approximately $1.2
trillion in shipping trade bound for the United States. Like, you can see it; I
saw it in the Strait of Malacca – amazing sight – when I was in Singapore a
little while ago.
That’s why the United States joins virtually every nation in
the region in being deeply concerned about the artificial island construction
and militarization in the South China Sea, including steps, especially by China,
as it has taken most recently, by placing anti-access systems and military
aircraft on a disputed island. These activities have the potential to increase
the risk of miscalculation and conflict among claimant states. President Xi
stated in Washington a few months ago that China would not do this. China must
not pursue militarization in the South China Sea. Specific actions will have
Indeed, while some in the region appear determined to play
spoiler, the United States and our many friends in the region don’t plan on
letting anyone upend seven decades’ worth of progress. For our part, it should
be clear that the U.S. military will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever
international law allows there, as we do all around the world, because the
maritime domain must always be open and free to all.
To ensure the U.S. military’s continued ability to project
power in the maritime domain around the world, our budget makes key investments
in our naval strength. One is in undersea capabilities, where we continue to
dominate and where we’re investing over $8 billion just next year to ensure ours
is the most lethal and most advanced undersea and anti-submarine force in the
world – including by the way, with new undersea drones. Another investment is of
course our surface fleet, which in our budget grows both the number of ships and
their capabilities to deter even the most advanced potential adversaries and
protect the maritime security we all depend on. All in all the rebalance has
dedicated by far, the most, and the newest forces, of the United States to this
region. And more is coming.
All of these military investments are necessary; they’re not
sufficient. Because security and prosperity are inextricably linked, so America
must build on its growing political and economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific
as well. Most importantly, Congress must complete action on the Trans-Pacific
Partnership Trade Agreement, or TPP. I’ve said that from a strategic
perspective, with respect to foreign policy, having TPP is as important to me as
an aircraft carrier. We cannot allow anything to undo this critical achievement.
It’s time to get this done.
Now, as our military preserves freedom of navigation and the
free flow of commerce at sea, we are equally committed to the free flow of
information and commerce online. The Internet was created by DoD, academia, and
industry working together. And since then we’ve seen it enable boundless
transformation and prosperity across all sectors of our society – making many
things easier, cheaper, and safer. But as we’ve also seen in recent years, these
same technologies present a degree of risk to the individual people and the
businesses who rely on them every day – making it easier, cheaper and, so it
seems, safer to threaten all that.
Like so many Bay Area businesses, the Defense Department
relies on networks heavily, which is why defending our networks and weapon
systems is job one for the Department of Defense in cyberspace – they’re no good
if they’ve been hacked. DoD’s second mission in cyberspace is to help other
agencies defend the nation against cyberattacks from abroad, especially if they
would cause loss of life, property destruction, or significant foreign policy
and economic consequences. And the third mission is to provide offensive cyber
options that can be used in a conflict, as we’re doing now against ISIL in Syria
In the defense budget, we’re investing more in all three of
these missions, a total of $35 billion over the next five years, with much, much
more of this going to modernizing and securing DoD’s hundreds of networks. Part
of that goes toward building and training the Cyber Mission Forces, some of whom
I’ll meet in Seattle later this week. These are talented people – some
active-duty, but also Reservists and National Guardsmen – who hunt down
intruders, red-team our networks, and perform the forensics that help keep our
systems secure. And it’s just one way the American military is helping protect
U.S. interests in cyberspace and preserve access to a free, open, and secure
Internet, so businesses can continue to innovate and individuals can continue to
interact without having to live under any threat.
This is important, because the rules of the Internet, to the
extent they exist, have always been a product of all its users. They weren’t
written or dictated by anyone. They came out of garages, and dorm rooms, and
home offices, and research laboratories. In many ways, they still do, and are
continuing to be shaped by individuals, including many here in the Bay Area.
When it comes to the Internet, no one nation, no single
entity has the authority to write all the rules for anyone else. That’s not just
my opinion; it’s the firm position of the Obama administration, which it has
shown in recent trade negotiations, diplomacy, and decisions on net neutrality
that the United States is a strong proponent of a free and open Internet.
But here too, some nations seek to play spoiler. China and
Russia, for example, are pursuing a very different vision, one predicated on
absolute government control of the Internet, anti-access policies like the
“Great Firewall,” state-sponsored cyber theft, including theft of intellectual
property, cyberespionage, and also cybercrime. Just last week, China’s
government further restricted foreign companies from publishing and distributing
online content in China, and made it clear that state media would speak for the
party’s will alone. We’ve seen that China aims to, as one news headline put it
last [year], quote, “Rewrite the rules of the global Internet,” end quote –
limiting the access of their 1 billion-plus citizens to an open society. China
has also indicated an intent to require backdoors to all new technologies,
potentially forcing the world to operate and innovate on China’s terms. That’s
Clearly this approach is contrary to the values we share as a
nation here in the United States. So let me take a moment to tell you where the
United States government and the United States Department of Defense stand on
this issue. We share the same underlying objectives and values as America’s
technology community – and we believe in living the values we defend in the
Department of Defense. We believe we all have a stake in protecting intellectual
property, and making sure the Internet remains free, open, secure, and
prosperous. And that means we must continue to respect, and protect the freedoms
of expression, association, and privacy that reflect who we are as a nation.
As Secretary of Defense, my mission is ensuring our military
can defend our country and make a better world. And DoD is at its best when it
has the best partners. Knowing how we’ve worked together in the past with those
of you in the innovative tech sector, and how critical your work is to our
country, strengthening that partnership is very important to me. And I’m glad
that we’ve started to make real progress on that over the last year.
We always want America’s best contributing to our national
security, and for it to be a two-way street. There’s a lot we can learn from
each other on better securing our networks and defending against emerging cyber
threats. Getting it right depends on getting the right people, which is why
we’re creating new ways to bring talent from the technology community into DoD,
even if only for a time, a year or two, a project, so they can help us do better.
An example of this is our new Defense Digital Service, which brings in talent
from America’s vibrant, innovative technology community to help solve some of
our most complex problems. And I brought its leader, Chris Lynch, out here with
me. Chris, stand up and wave. Before Chris came here – great guy – before Chris
came to us to help us, he was a serial entrepreneur here in the tech world, also
worked at Microsoft. He’s recruited in – in this role for me – he’s recruited
coders from places like Google, and Palantir, and Shopify for a tour of duty –
we call it a tour of duty here at – back in DoD. And he’s done such a good job
of cutting through red tape, he even figured out how to get away with wearing a
hoodie every day in the Pentagon. That’s what he looks like.
We want people like Chris to help keep us strong, creative,
and forward-thinking – and hopefully that infusion of innovative,
entrepreneurial spirit will rub off on us, and help sustain and strengthen the
bridges we’re building with the tech community for many years to come. I’ll have
more to say on that tomorrow.
I know the issue of data security, including encryption, has
been a hot topic here in the Bay Area and around the country. There are limits
on what I can say about the case that’s been in the news lately – I’m sure you
know which one I’m talking about – particularly because it’s under litigation
and it’s a law enforcement matter. So let me speak more broadly, because this is
one of the most complicated challenges of our time.
First, it’s important to take a step back here, because
future policy shouldn’t be driven by any one particular case.
Second, encryption is a necessary part of data security, and
strong encryption is a good thing. DoD is the largest user of encryption in the
world, principally because our troops need it. It helps keep our fighter jets
and our sensor networks from getting hacked. It allows us to surprise our
adversaries. And it lets our people deployed around the world communicate
securely with their families back home – from sailors aboard aircraft carriers
to soldiers in Afghanistan. For all these reasons, we need our data security and
encryption to be as strong as possible.
Third, as we together – together – engineer approaches to
overall human security in the information age, I know enough about technology to
recognize that there will not be some simple, overall technical approach,
including the so-called back door.
The bottom line is that the tech community and policymakers
need to work together to solve these complex challenges, just like they have in
the past. Future technology will only grow more complicated. And in this global
marketplace, failing to work together would risk letting others set the standard
on their terms and according to their values – and that wouldn’t be consistent
with our values, and it wouldn’t be good for U.S. businesses either.
The right way is partnership. It’s easy to see the wrong ways
to go about this. One would be a law hastily written in anger or grief. Another
would be to have the rules written by Russia or China.
That’s why the Department of Defense will continue seeking to
work with Bay Area companies – because we’re living in the same world, with the
same basic trends and the same basic threats. And we must innovate the way
Meanwhile, as we work together to protect the free flow of
commerce at sea and online, we must also recognize the opportunities and the
threats to the free and open domain of outer space.
Many companies in this community are now exploring the
frontiers of this domain and nearly every business depends on it to some extent,
even if for just things such as communications and GPS. In DoD, we rely on it
just as much, and we have for quite some time. From secure communications, to
reconnaissance satellites, to allowing for precise navigation and targeting,
space is integral to our operations. Indeed, space enables great things here on
Earth for security and prosperity – from financial companies with global
presence, to the remote street vendor conducting business with a satellite
phone. GPS, first developed in partnership with the Defense Department and
maintained for decades including up to this day by us, is now woven into every
aspect of our lives – from hailing a car service on the Embarcadero, to finding
and targeting terrorists in the Middle East. All that. And decades ago, we
pioneered space together, you and us. It was the innovation of this region that
led to the cutting-edge satellites that have quite literally changed how we see
the world today.
Today, many companies are going into space now on their own,
with ambitions for greater commercial imaging, micro-satellites, even
aspirations for tourism. Just as government-led efforts in space have benefited
both our security and our society, private-led efforts are doing so also – one
recent example being that the public disclosure of China’s surface-to-air
missiles in the South China Sea was due to being discovered in commercial
However, this emerging marketplace is leading to a reemerging
challenge. Space can get crowded, particularly with many companies and many
nations seeking to operate there in ways we’ve never seen so many do before –
including some that can pose threats to safe global order in space.
To give you just one example of the dangers we would face if
space turned from universal benefit to unrestricted battlefield, consider the
longevity of space debris, which can cause great harm if it impacts a satellite
or a spacecraft. When a Chinese anti-satellite test destroyed a defunct weather
satellite in 2007, it dispersed over 3,000 pieces of debris, expanding the
amount orbiting the Earth – the total amount – by 15 percent in one moment. The
remnants of that satellite are still there, and they’ll be there for over a
century, just as 100 years after the Battle of Verdun, French farmers still
encounter unexploded ordnance in their fields. A kinetic battle in space could
leave behind a legacy that would last far longer, and make this common domain
hazardous for commercial applications for generations. And make no mistake, both
Russia and China have developed just such anti-satellite systems.
Just like with the maritime and cyber domains, therefore,
it’s in the self-interest of every nation to advance the common interest of free
and stable environment in space.
While in the past some may have thought of space as a
sanctuary, DoD must now prepare for, and seek to prevent, the possibility of a
conflict that extends into space, and we are. In our budget, we’re continuing to
invest more in space, totaling more than $22 billion [in 2017], including with
investments to enhance our ability to identify, attribute, and negate
threatening actions by others.
DoD has a responsibility to protect its assets and interests
in space, and to ensure this domain remains available for both security and
commercial applications. This too will require working together more with the
private sector. We know that. Commercial space needs must be considered and
protected to realize the continuing promise of this remarkable domain, and the
only way to do that is through effective partnership and communication, once
We believe strong rules of the road that grow out of the
commercial and civil interest in space will benefit all nations. They will
propel American space entrepreneurship, which directly benefits national
security, and they will allow us to differentiate between acceptable and
unacceptable behavior in space.
Let me close with a reminder about how much we’ve done
together to shape the world in each of the three domains I’ve discussed – the
sea, cyberspace, and outer space – because in many ways, we don’t think of it
When someone orders an iPhone, they buy a device that
brilliantly harnesses breakthrough technologies that were seeded by DoD and
government investments, from multi-touch to iOS’s Siri. Chances are, they order
it using the Internet that DoD, industry, and academia helped create together.
The phone gets packaged in Asia, then shipped over an ocean our Navy patrols to
ensure that that shipping goes unimpeded. And it’s tracked from start to finish
by GPS technology, which DoD could not have invented or launched without a
robust, innovative private sector.
DoD’s fundamental promise is to protect U.S. citizens and our
interests, but we’re most proud of providing the foundation of security that
underpins global stability and prosperity. That’s why the partnership between
the Department of Defense and this community is so important.
It’s true that because we have different missions and
somewhat different perspectives, sometimes we’ll disagree – and I think that’s
okay. Because whether we’re developing a new product or a new policy, the lesson
to me is always the same: vigorous debate and exchange produce breakthrough
My pledge to you is this: you will always have strong and
willing partner in America’s Department of Defense. You can count on your
military, the finest fighting force the world has ever known, to do its part so
that you can continue to innovate and excel with us for generations to come.