Congressional speakers highlight Chinese threat at I/ITSEC 2022
The first official event of this year’s I/ITSEC in Orlando was an open forum with the US Congressional M&S Caucus. Formed in 2005, its role is ‘to advocate for its [M&S] use in analysis, design, testing, and training’.
This event, held annually at the show, is designed ‘to provide members an opportunity to meet and hold a dialogue with the community’. Its popularity was evidenced by the packed conference room where even standing room was at a premium.
Four members of the Caucus were present at the event, Stephanie Murphy (D, Florida), John Rutherford (R, Florida), Jack Bergman (R, Michigan) and Darren Soto (D, Florida). Although there was little talk of M&S per se, the presentations gave a valuable backdrop to the challenges facing the world at the present time.
Murphy spoke of the US’s National Security Strategy and the challenges the country and its allies were now facing. In particular, she highlighted the threat from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and spoke of the need for the US and its allies to address that threat by being more self-sufficient in technology, particularly microchips. We need, she said, to ‘run faster’ by investing more in R&D and innovation.
Murphy’s point concerning technology was echoed by Rutherford who said that ‘innovation is how we’re going to outrun the Chinese’. He also spoke of the threats to the US, both external and internal, and how simulation and training technologies could better prepare the nation to face those threats. Addressing the M&S industry, Rutherford said, ‘we need to make sure that we’re doing all we can for you'.
Although a clear supporter of that industry, Rutherford also highlighted that it has responsibilities. In response to a question from the audience about China buying land close to US bases, he said that what ‘concerns me is that many companies are more concerned about their bottom lines for short-term gain than national security’.
From left to right, Bergman, Murphy, Soto and Rutherford at the I/ITSEC Congressional M&S Caucus meeting. (Photo: author)
The PRC threat came to the fore again when the panel discussed how that country is exploiting social media platforms such as TikTok to spread ‘global influence’. A former US Marine Corps three-star general, Bergman referred to this as ‘controlling the perceptions’ and that the US and its allies need to know ‘where the [modern] battlefield is’.
He went on to say that although the information age has its benefits, it has also enabled ‘us to make mistakes much faster’.
Turning to Ukraine, Bergman said that initial assessments had presumed Russia would ‘roll through’ the country in a matter of days but what that conflict has proved is that with the right equipment and good training, the Ukrainian armed forces have been able ‘stop Russia in its tracks’.
The final question to the Caucus concerned the way that the US government procures M&S equipment and services. This is a perennial problem afflicting most nations and perhaps Bergman summed up the frustrations of many when he said, ‘if you use the words “innovation” and “government” in the same sentence make sure that you also include the word “not”’.
In his summary, Soto spoke of other challenges facing the US and its M&S industry – inflation and a ‘labour shortage’. These he said, needed to be addressed urgently. Many countries around the world would echo Soto’s comments.
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