Dr. Scott Harris, President, Continental Europe, Lockheed Martin Global, Inc.

Dealing with Challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Dr. Scott Harris
President, Continental Europe, Lockheed Martin Global, Inc.


I am going to approach this question in a little bit different way than my colleagues have, although I have not heard anything that I disagree with. We at Lockheed Martin have done a study of recent programs in the United States that were cancelled. Our conclusion is that the United States in the last decade has spent roughly $60 billion on platforms that were never built and on capabilities that never came into existence. So there is a problem with applying resources to the right thing and to bringing resources to where they actually produce capability. That is a U.S. problem, but I think it is a problem everywhere in NATO if you think about certain programs in Europe that do not seem to be producing capability. I think it is a universal problem.


So the issues that Al Volkman framed at the beginning of the panel concerning how we meet the emerging threats, how we deal with a resource environment in which budgets are declining, and how we make a trade-off between what we need for the long term-these programs that take a long time to develop and produce capability-and what we need in the short term for urgent operational requirements are serious problems and problems that both government and industry need to address.
In the U.S. right now, these issues often are being framed in this Gates “you all will have to get used to a new world” context as trading off between the long term and the short term. I think this is a false dichotomy, and I don’t think we should think about it in that way. NATO is always going to want to take care of the long term. We should never find ourselves in a situation in which an emerging power is militarily equal or superior to the combined power of NATO allies. That would be a very strange thing to do in this world. So there is always going to be a desire to be militarily superior in any kind of major conflict, and that becomes an issue of judgment as to how much is enough. To the extent that we are successful in dealing with the long-term challenge or the potential long-term challenge, any current opponent is going to resort to the asymmetric strategy. Paradoxically, the stronger you get, the weaker you are, and the more vulnerable you become to the asymmetric threat. That is the issue of the short term.
How do we deal with that? Responding to the asymmetric threat is where the partnership between industry and government is absolutely essential. I completely agree with what Edgar Buckley said: You need the creative energy that industry has, you need the accumulated knowledge and expertise, and you need as little bureaucracy as possible when you try to respond in a rapid way. You also need to be able to bring the entire range of technological capability to bear, whatever the problem is. You do not respond to an urgent operational requirement by asking the EDA to conduct a study on how to do Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). You go to the people who do UAVs and you get busy. That is really the essential challenge.

At a very general level, let me give you an example, which is the one that Al Volkman mentioned: the problem of IEDs in Afghanistan. All of a sudden, you have powerful NATO militaries vulnerable to cell-phone technology, and so Peter Flory’s predecessor, when he was in office, demanded that industry “Do more, do more,” and said, “What are you doing about IEDs?” Of course, everybody mobilized to address that problem in a multifaceted way.

Let’s look at some of the responses. The first response was to try to take away the mechanism by which the IEDs work, to jam them. A huge number of sophisticated technologies were fielded fairly rapidly that rendered the mobile-phone trigger pretty useless. Then, of course, the enemy adapted. So then we had to tackle them on multiple fronts and protect the vehicles. So a whole new generation of protected vehicles was developed and rapidly fielded, and we now have the second and third generations of mine-resistant vehicles. We have to detect IEDs-if you cannot jam them, you want to detect them, and then the enemy gets clever about how they employ them. So you have to get clever about finding them. You use persistent surveillance-maybe you have UAVs, maybe you have balloons, maybe you have other ways for persistent surveillance. Then maybe you need sophisticated sensors that you had not thought of before to detect where the ground has been moved, to where the ground is warm, or maybe you need systems that can see a picture and say, that picture has been disturbed in a very minute way but we see it. So you do those things and you work on a whole separate line of how to disable or destroy these things if you find them, for example, with robotic technology.


Industry responds in all of these ways working with a team, which was mentioned in the last panel, the counter-IED task force, and with all of these other government activities. You work as a team to address this very serious asymmetric threat and you have to do it with a lot of industry involvement in order to meet the urgency of the requirement. I think that is the key lesson about how industry contributes in the short term to a situation like we have in Afghanistan. It is not really a contest for resources; it is a question of figuring out the right way to deploy resources. It is also a question more of recognition than of facts; it is a matter of recognizing the threats, seeing the emerging short-term threats, and moving rapidly against them while maintaining a steady focus on the longer-term investment and modernization we need to do. This gets harder when budgets are being cut, but that is what we have to keep our focus on.

You could argue that failure to keep this focus and failure to get the right balance between the long and the short run could lead to an even worse capability gap between the United States and its NATO allies. I think the thing we all have to worry about the most is that the resource crisis in Europe will fundamentally weaken European industry to the point where it cannot respond to the urgent requirement and cannot partner with U.S. industry. We and our European industry colleagues work very hard to keep the capability gap from widening, but we need to be constantly aware of this issue or it will widen.

Top of page | Home | ©2010 Center for Strategic Decision Research