Moulton and Banks Release Future of Defense Task Force Implementation Report Tracking Progress Toward Modernizing U.S. National Security
Report notes that the fight to retire outdated legacy systems is just beginning; declining national service a threat to national security
WASHINGTON, D.C.—According to a new report released today by Congressmen Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the national security community has made progress implementing the Future of Defense Task Force’s initial recommendations, but challenges still remain.
In its foundational 2020 report, the bipartisan Future of Defense Task Force, co-chaired by Moulton and Banks urged the U.S. to commit to a national security and defense strategy focused on the needs of the future—not on the political and military-industrial loyalties of the past— in order to prepare for a future of great power competition with China and Russia.
The new implementation report, which tracks progress on authorizing legislation, appropriations, executive orders, and other policy actions, notes that 14 of the report’s 55 total recommendations have been fully or nearly implemented, while 34 have been partially implemented or have started to be implemented. Congress, particularly the armed services committees, hasestablished a number of important programs, commissions, and authorities under the most recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Despite this progress, today’s report notes that the fight to retire outdated legacy systems is just beginning. While members of the Task Force successfully commissioned a DoD report on legacy systems, going forward this report must be paired with actual divestment of outdated systems and reinvestment in new capabilities.
Moulton and Banks also warn that declining national service, in and out of the military, is the next big threat to the nation.Of all the overarching lines of effort in this report, the national service-oriented recommendations have seen the least progress.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its use of hybrid tactics, shows just how high the stakes are in the global competition between democracy and authoritarianism. Meanwhile, the continued vulnerability of our most critical supply chains and China’s technological rise makes the work of this task force more and more relevant each day,” said Congressman Moulton. “The progress made by the national security community on our recommendations over the last year and a half has been impressive, but today’s report card is an important reminder that the work is really just beginning.”
“It’s been a year and a half since we released the Future of Defense Task Force report. Few now would disagree that we must innovate and modernize our military to compete with Russia and especially China,” added Congressman Banks. “I’m glad that progress has been made and I’d like to thank my co-chair, Seth Moulton, for our bipartisan work to implement the important reforms in our report, but there is still much work to do. The rapid development of emerging technologies will be critical in the coming decades and the Department of Defense cannot continue the status quo.”
Notable progress on Task Force recommendations since September 2020 includes:
- Legacy Systems Report: The FY22 NDAA requires DoD to issue and brief Congress on a legacy systems report, verified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
- Digital Talent Recruiting Officer: The FY22 NDAA requires DoD to appoint a Chief Digital Recruiting Officer to identify technological skill gaps and recruit civilians with programming, computer science, and other related backgrounds.
- National Defense Science and Technology Strategy: The FY22 NDAA codifies a National Defense Science and Technology Strategy that DoD must create and update along with the National Defense Strategy.
- National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology: The FY22 NDAA creates an independent National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology to review advances in biotechnology and associated technologies.
Emerging themes and future challenges include:
- The fight to retire outdated legacy systems is just beginning. While members of the Task Force successfully commissioned a DoD report on legacy systems, going forward this report must be paired with actual divestment of outdated systems and reinvestment in new capabilities.
- Declining national service, in and out of the military, is the next big threat to the nation. Of the 14 recommendations in this report, the national service-oriented recommendations have seen the least progress.
- Talent recruitment and retention continues to be a major barrier. Congress and the Department have taken steps to improve the talent pipeline, but many of these efforts are scattershot and fail to address foundational challenges within the national security workforce.
The original Future Defense Task Force Report was published in September 2020 by a bipartisan group of members on the House Armed Services Committee after a monthlong review of U.S. defense assets and capabilities.
Within the report, the Task Force made a total of 55 unique recommendations to Congress, the executive branch, industry, and academia. It called upon the Department of Defense (DoD) to refocus its efforts on these critical modernization priorities and reminded Congress, the President, and the American people of the necessary steps for ensuring America's national security in the 21st century.
Read the full report HERE.