**Congress Must Act to Ensure U.S. Success in Modern Warfare**
**The Battle to Integrate Commercial Technologies in Modern Warfare**
The U.S. is currently engaged in proxy wars with Russia and attempting to deter a potential China cross-strait invasion of Taiwan. These conflicts highlight the importance of a nation’s ability to leverage both traditional weapons systems and rapidly integrate commercial technologies into operations. However, the Department of Defense (DoD) is ill-prepared to integrate commercial technologies and private capital at scale, unlike its adversaries.
**China’s “Whole of Nation” Approach**
China has successfully implemented a “whole of nation” approach, allowing its military to integrate private capital and commercial technology as a force multiplier in the South China Sea and preparations for a future invasion of Taiwan. This approach has been facilitated by China’s civil-military fusion strategy, which coordinates efforts to harness disruptive commercial technologies for national security. China has tapped into $900 billion of private capital and utilized state-owned enterprises to fund its defense capabilities. Additionally, China is learning from Russia’s failures in Ukraine, further enhancing its military capabilities.
**The U.S. Lags Behind in Integration of Commercial Technologies**
On the other hand, the U.S. has been hesitant and slow to adapt and adopt new models of systems and operational concepts at the same pace as its adversaries. Defense primes and K-street lobbyists, viewing the DoD budget as a zero-sum game, have become obstacles to organizational innovation within the DoD. Currently, private capital is disincentivized from participating in national security initiatives, which hinders the integration of commercial innovation into the U.S. military.
**The Need for Congressional Action**
For the U.S. to effectively deter China and succeed in future conflicts, the DoD must create a strategy and a redesigned organization that embraces untapped external resources such as private capital and commercial innovation. However, the DoD currently lacks a coherent plan and an organization with the necessary budget and authority to implement these changes. Congressional action is crucial in identifying and implementing the needed changes within the DoD.
**Proposed Reforms and Changes**
Congress must act to establish a new defense ecosystem that utilizes external commercial innovation and private capital as a force multiplier. This would involve leveraging the expertise of prime contractors, refocusing research and development centers, and reorganizing DoD Research and Engineering to allocate resources equally between traditional and commercial sources of innovation.
Furthermore, the reorganization of DoD Acquisition and Sustainment is necessary to allocate resources to the creation of 21st-century arsenals, including new shipyards and drone manufacturers. Additionally, coordination with Allied nations and the expansion of the National Security Innovation Base (NSIB) to an Allied Security Innovation Base would further enhance the sourcing of commercial technologies.
**Congress’s Role in Ensuring U.S. Success in Modern Warfare**
National power is fleeting, and the U.S. risks decline if it ignores the importance of allies, economic power, and disruptive technology transitions. The U.S. Congress has a historical precedent for taking action to ensure the DoD is organized to win wars. Similar to the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, Congress must establish a commission to determine the necessary reforms and changes to position the U.S. for success in future conflicts.
**Immediate Action is Necessary**
While parts of the DoD recognize the urgency of deterring potential conflicts, the department as a whole lacks a sense of urgency. It is essential to acknowledge that China and Russia will not defer their plans to meet the U.S.’s schedule. To ensure the survival and security of those who depend on U.S. defense capabilities, immediate action is necessary. Failure to do so could have dire consequences.
In conclusion, Congress must take immediate action to address the current challenges facing the integration of commercial technologies and private capital in the U.S. military. By implementing reforms and changes within the DoD, the U.S. can position itself for success in modern warfare and effectively deter potential conflict with China and Russia.