Insight by Leidos

Great power competition requires security, agility, speed

Doctrinal and policy changes mean – down at the function levels of government – activities and supporting technologies must adapt too. According to Jim Carl...


Great Power Competition Overview

Every domain is contested in a great power competition, whether it be defense applications [or] civil and health applications. We need to protect the critical infrastructure for the nation. So security is a major theme that we as a system integrator bring to our customers.


Cybersecurity Challenges

We're very much in the hypersonic domain at Leidos. It's a very important development and a very important area. The combination of speed, maneuverability and altitude with hypersonic weapons, really makes them potent weapons.

American military and foreign policy doctrine has changed in the last several years as the world situation has changed. Now, the idea of great power competition has emerged as China and Russia demonstrate ever-rising willingness and ability to challenge the supremacy of the United States.

Doctrinal and policy changes mean – down at the function levels of government – activities and supporting technologies must adapt too. According to Jim Carlini, the chief technology officer at Leidos, broad-based integrators and technology vendors are working to ensure their products and services match this emerging need.

The definition of great power competition itself is still developing, Carlini said in this video interview with Federal News Network’s Tom Temin.

“The current administration, for instance, likes ‘strategic competition’ versus ‘great power competition,’” Carlini said. “But by whatever name you prefer, it’s a label really for a new era of geopolitical jockeying for influence and control of global affairs.”

Moreover, it’s not just a Defense Department issue.

“It cuts across things like diplomacy, economic, military, information, intelligence, law enforcement – all of those levers of power get touched,” Carlini said. “It touches the entire government,” including Defense, the intelligence community, and the Commerce, Homeland Security, and Treasury departments.

Large technology integrators have what Carlini called a privileged position in helping the government navigate its way to readiness in the new era of conflict.

One way is by bringing deep understanding of commercial technologies and bridging them to specific governmental needs. For example, government might need privacy assurances, auditability, and rapid deployment “to serve some of their mission purposes from warfighting to simply gaining efficiencies that are very important for reducing expenditures, and allocating some of that money toward mission and for great power competition,” Carlini said.

Another way is by enabling greater resilience and security to agencies and the data crucial to their missions.

“Security is a major theme that we as a system integrator bring to our customers,” Carlini added.

Competing nations have started to deploy artificial intelligence – in some cases against one another. Carlini said an important U.S. requirement is that such technologies be used, for whatever purpose, in a way that respects U.S. values and laws.

AI and cybersecurity intersect in the great power competition, as the need for data and intellectual property protection becomes ever more crucial. Carlini said Leidos’s zero trust proving ground – a methodology for discovering how zero trust architectures, technologies, and components perform – can help. And furthermore, that applications of zero trust apply beyond networks to many forms of complex systems, including the growing number of unmanned and autonomous systems the military is developing.

“And we’re also bringing AI into zero trust, to have better algorithms for determining how to manage a zero trust resilient architecture, Carlini said. “And we’re using AI with cyber to more quickly come up with better defensive applications. And to counter the advanced threats, those that come from state actors that are very, very good; and tend to hide in networks.”

Another capability Leidos is working for the Defense Department is hypersonics. The topic has caused many headlines as both China and Russia appear to show off hypersonic developments. The company is building what Carlini called the hypersonic glide body at its Dynetics facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

“We need to move with speed in order to make sure we’re competing in the hypersonics realm,” Carlini said.

In fact, the need for speed permeates nearly everything the government does in the great power competitions, he said. He cited Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s recent “Accelerate” paper as an example of the call for moving more quickly and with more agility.

“So the alarm bells are going off. And that is all about being able to move very rapidly from this point forward,” Carlini said. “We need to innovate with speed. And we need to do that across the board across all the domains.”

Listen to the full show:

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