Partnerships Key to Stronger Defense

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Senior defense leaders stressed relationship building and partnerships during the fifth annual Future Security Forum in Washington, where they gathered to discuss issues in international security and defense, including the future of the military in space and cyberwarfare.

The Defense Department is focused on improving interoperability between services and allied nations, an effort that is reflected in the National Defense Strategy.

“We’re stronger when we act together than acting alone,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. She noted the Air Force operates in support of the other services, allies and partners in three warfighting domains — air, space and cyber.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller said the Marine Corps is uniquely postured to carry out the lethality and partnership missions emphasized in the NDS, particularly in the Pacific, where it has had a large presence for some time.

He said that while technology is important to warfighters, the basics are as important as they’ve always been.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson, noted the Navy’s unique role in building goodwill with foreign nations. When a Navy vessel pulls into a foreign port, he said, quite often the people there are getting their first impressions of Americans. And ship visits by foreign leaders can build interpersonal relationships at more senior levels, Richardson added.

Air Force Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, the vice commander of Air Force Space Command, said the U.S. is striving to fully integrate allies and partners in the space domain, by including inviting allies and partners to exercises and incorporating them into the future Space Command whenever feasible.

Monday’s forum, sponsored by Washington-based think tank New America and Arizona State University, brought together leaders from government, education, journalism, military and the private sector.

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