Industry, Government: Enduring Partners

By Hawk  Carlisle

The National Defense Industrial Association is a world-class organization with nearly 100 years of exemplary service to the nation. 

I cannot express how much of an honor and privilege it is for me to become part of the leadership team of this fantastic organization and to serve as its next president and CEO. As a member of the U.S. military for the past 39 years, I have watched and been the benefactor of the incredible support NDIA has given to the warfighter. It is part of what makes the U.S. military the greatest the world has ever seen. 

I want to thank retired Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley for the tremendous leadership he has provided NDIA over the past few years and tell every member of the association that I will continue moving forward in everything that he has been working on.

One only needs to read an article or watch the news for a few minutes to see that it is clearly evident that we live in very challenging times. I spent my first 12 years in the Air Force fighting the Cold War. Over the last 27 years, I have spent a great deal of time and thought on the post-Desert Storm environment we live in and the national defense strategy needed to deal with the threats and environment we face. 

There are no easy answers, quick fixes or single game-changing solutions. The threats we face include the high-end, near-peer potential adversaries such as an aggressive and evolving China as well as a potential restart of the Cold War with Russia. We also face potential adversaries such as Iran and North Korea and a continuous and worldwide violent extremism and terrorism threat — not to mention natural disasters that require humanitarian response and disaster relief. 

Developing a strategy to deal with the spectrum of potential threats and the range of military operations that the armed forces could be called upon to conduct is an incredibly challenging task.  

How to best use the nation’s limited resources is a constant factor in developing the strategy. Whether one is in government or industry, there is only so much money, manpower and time available, so we must get the most capability and capacity that we possibly can for the warfighter with the resources that we have. 

As the saying goes, “every challenge is an opportunity.” I believe together we can continue to be the best military in the world and have the capacity to deal with whatever threats we face. However, we can only accomplish this if we are all in this together finding solutions.


"Whether one is in government or industry, there is only so much money, manpower and time available, so we must get the most capability and capacity that we possibly can."

There are some key things I believe we need to do to continue to advance the defense strategy. We will never fight alone — or for that matter do anything across the range of military operations — without allies. Working closely with partners — both from the government side and the industry side — we must include high-end interoperability for both equipment and teaming arrangements between industry partners in order to deliver products and services to the warfighter.  

We also have to solve the challenge of protecting intellectual capital and the technology companies develop while at the same time building truly open systems architectures that allow for greater interoperability and the rapid and cost-effective insertion of new technology. 

We have to be able to very rapidly spiral increased capability into systems to stay ahead of adversaries while maintaining interoperability across the entire joint warfighting system of systems. 

Space, air, land, surface and subsurface systems need to instantly transfer sensor data and command-and-control information and direction across a defended and resilient cyber terrain. The key to this is truly developing open systems architecture and developing the network capabilities warfighters need.

The next area that we all get frustrated with and we must address together are acquisition regulations and policies. Congress, industry, the administration and its departments all have a role to play in this effort. 

This will be very challenging and require close consultation between all parties. From both the government and industry side, there is a great deal of frustration with the time and expense it takes to deliver capabilities to the field. We have to get much better at this or we will lose the ability to stay ahead of adversaries. 

There are tradeoffs and risks that we must be cognizant of but it is an area that we must address. Given the leadership in Congress, the departments and industry, now is the time to work on this problem.

The young men and women in our country that volunteer and are willing to raise their right hand and swear to an oath to defend our freedoms and our way of life are extraordinary and truly our nation’s greatest treasure. We owe it to them to do everything in our power, to work together across the aisle and between government and industry, to give them all they need to win the nation’s wars and come home to their families. Their sacrifices are great. It is a moral obligation to train and equip them to be successful at the missions they are asked to do.

Again, it is truly an honor and privilege to join an incredible team dedicated to the defense of this great nation. I very much look forward to working with the members as we tackle the challenges the nation faces. 

And I want to give a final “thank you” to retired Gen. Craig R. McKinley for a job well done.


Topics: Defense Contracting, Defense Department

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