Q&A with Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


* Gen. Joseph Dunford, the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently participated in a joint interview with NDIA President and CEO retired Gen. Hawk Carlisle and National Defense magazine Managing Editor Jon Harper to offer his perspective on some of the most critical national security challenges facing the United States.

The following Q&M has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Q: You've said that the U.S. still has the greatest military in the history of the world. But how do you see it going in the future based on the challenges of a rising China and Russia?

A: Both Russia and China in the context of great power competition have studied us very carefully and... they've invested in weapons that undermine our ability to project power and operate really across all domains.

Our competitive advantage has eroded [but] the investments we started to make in '17, '18, '19, and what we're proposing in '20 put us on a trajectory to sustain that competitive advantage, making investments across all those domains [to include land, sea, air, space and cyberspace]. And so [the budgets for] '20, '21, '22, they're really important.

Q: Are there certain types of technology that you think the department should be investing in in the coming years to prepare for a potential conflict with advanced adversaries?

A: There's probably three technologies that are most important to us: [The first is] artificial intelligence. Quantum computing is another one that comes to mind when you think about the implications from secure communications to penetrating adversaries' communications--that'll be very critical. And then directed energy weapons systems.

Clearly space and cyberspace, in terms of domains, are where we need to make investments. But then also in a functional area--electronic warfare.

Q: The Budget Control Act caps are slated to go back into effect in fiscal year 2020. How confident are you that Congress will reach a deal and pass a budget on time this year?

A: To be honest with you, I don't know. I've been on the Hill a lot over the last couple of months.... There's optimists and there's pessimists and it's hard to see [how that will play out].

Q: The Defense Department is trying to tap into technology development that's occuring in the commercial sector. How do you think it's going with respect to how the department is building bridges with the commercial sector?

A: It's impossible for me to imagine... us maintaining a competitive...

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