By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, October 1, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter honored former defense chief William Perry yesterday at the kickoff of the two-day World Economic Forum, where he called for greater public-private collaboration in technology and innovation.
While the United States has the "finest fighting force the world has ever known, that's not a birthright," Carter said at a dinner and discussion on the grounds of the Pentagon.
The United States needs to bolster collaboration to maintain the military's cutting edge, he said. Collaboration with private industry has led to groundbreaking advancements that have kept the nation safe, Carter said.
Keeping the country secure demands that the Defense Department "listen and learn" from private sector companies on issues such as cybersecurity, technology innovation and talent management, Carter said.
"We’re looking and thinking outside of our five-sided box to forge new partnerships with America’s private sector and tech communities," he said.
Radically Changed Warfare
Perry was defense secretary from February 1994 to January 1997, deputy secretary of defense in 1993 to 1994, and undersecretary of defense for research and engineering from 1977 to 1981.
"Bill Perry’s ideas grew into something special -- unique for their generation. They’ve made our military stronger, our country safer and our world more secure," Carter said.
In honor of those accomplishments, Carter presented Perry with the inaugural Innovators in Defense, Enterprise, Academia and Science award.
"Every year this award will go to someone who has built bridges between the technology world and the defense world," Carter said, "and who has helped drive innovation to benefit our defense mission, the security of this country, and our entire society to help make a better world."
Perry embodied the commitment to partnership during the Cold War, the defense secretary said.
Carter highlighted Perry's achievements, including warning defense industry partners about the post-Cold War drawdown, and working with former Soviet states to dismantle nuclear weapons after the Cold War ended.
"When a cross-section of military, academic, and private-sector experts paved the way to a future of GPS-guided smart bombs, battle networks, and stealth, [Perry] channeled their work into his groundbreaking offset strategy, harnessing technology to radically change warfare," Carter said.
Perry's offset strategy is "why America's military has been the most advanced in the world for the last 25 years," the defense secretary said.
For his part, Perry applauded Carter for seeking to forge an alliance between industry and the Pentagon. The military can make significant strides with technological innovations, business innovations and political innovations, he said.
Innovation, Perry said, makes "possible what is otherwise mission impossible."
The collaboration between the government and private sector is critically important in today's world, said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
"This is a very special moment to bring together the representatives of the Pentagon, of the defense community, of the intelligence community and the private business community," Schwab said.
Schwab moderated a discussion with Carter and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
Investment needs to start with people, Carter said. "We now know that people stay happier and are more productive if they remain learning their entire lives," he said.
To keep American competitiveness, Pritzker said, there is a need for investments in personnel, infrastructure, innovation and trade partnerships.
"I think that's the biggest threat that we have," Pritzker said. "We don't think about it as an investment, we just think about it as spending money."
Yesterday's opening session of the World Economic Forum was followed today with breakout sessions and private discussions at the Pentagon.