Australian American Leadership Dialogue Gala

Australian American Leadership Dialogue Gala
August 08, 2015

Thank you, Michael [Rowland], for that kind introduction. I’m honored to join you for the 2015 Australian American Leadership Dialogue, as we celebrate the strong and lasting partnership between our two great nations.

I hope everyone enjoyed today’s conversations as much as I did. It was truly a rich discussion encompassing defense, foreign policy, trade, cybersecurity, innovation and STEM—all areas of significant importance to our two nations.

Clearly, the Australian American Leadership Dialogue has been very successful since its founding almost 25 years ago. Yet, no matter how successful we have been, the endurance of this partnership in the years ahead is even more critical.

It is especially fitting that we gather here in Melbourne on the 100th Anniversary year of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC, landing on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula. This was a pivotal moment in the history of Australia and New Zealand on the world stage.

As the soldiers of the newly-formed ANZAC fought together, they solidified your nation’s position as a global leader. The ANZAC established a tradition of solidarity with other nations that would later shape the partnership and trust with their American counterparts.

This year is also the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Each of these conflicts was different. And certainly, security concerns have evolved since then. However, our partnership—and our trust—has only grown stronger.

Because of that, Australia and the United States have long been united in maintaining peace in Asia and all around the world. From Korea and Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and countless United Nations operations around the world, the United States and Australia have stood together for security and stability for decades. We share and demonstrate globally, a steadfast commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

However, today, those values are under assault in many parts of the world. Instability in Eastern Europe, a resurgent Boko Haram in Nigeria, devastating civil unrest in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State destabilizing countries in Africa and the Middle East.

And Australia, in particular, faces a number of evolving and unsettling threats. Not far from your shores, we see missile tests in North Korea, political instability in Thailand and Myanmar, and increased assertiveness in China and Russia.

As a global community, these new and unprecedented threats demand our immediate and unified attention. In fact, we see the global landscape continue to evolve faster every day. As the old saying goes, “Change seems to be the only constant”—political, economic, technological, social and cultural.

The world as we know it is being re-shaped by a series of megatrends—overarching forces that will affect how the world will work for decades to come. And while these megatrends pose unprecedented challenges, they also create exceptional opportunities—opportunities that can best be realized through partnership, innovation and investment.

I’d like to highlight four of these megatrends that are particularly pertinent to our discussions at the Dialogue.

The first megatrend is the changing global power dynamic.

Today, there are more bad actors, with more power, in more places, than ever before. This is a world where developing nations, rogue nations, non-state groups, and even individuals are more and more able to influence global events—where a single keystroke can move money across the globe and weapons of mass destruction can fit in a suitcase.

In such a world, strength, flexibility and adaptability are at a premium. We must be innovative and agile to keep up with these evolving challenges and emerging threats. As America re-balances its naval assets around the globe, with an even greater focus on the Pacific region, the close relationship between our nations will be more critical than ever.

While globalization has made the world a smaller place in some ways, the second megatrend—the increasing global population—reminds us that the number of people we support on our planet is growing. Population growth, resource scarcity and climate change are converging. And together they present a formidable challenge to our nations.

Today, on Earth, we support more than seven billion people, and that number is increasing every day. That means our nations’ citizens will require increased sources for food, more homes and schools, reliable sources of energy and more better-paying jobs.

And our increased consumption is accelerating the effects of climate change as well. We see the effects of these changes here in Australia—from this year’s severe storms and flooding on the North Coast, to raging wildfires in Victoria, to a devastating series of cyclones across the South Pacific—this has been an unparalleled year of climate threats.

The pressures on our resources from population growth, combined with the effects of climate change, are driving an increase of real threats to security and stability around the world. And how we work together to meet these escalating challenges will shape our future.  

All these challenges are complicated further by the third megatrend—economic uncertainty.

This uncertainty is clouding strategic decision-making in a highly interconnected world. Economic globalization has cemented our interdependence. That means each of us are affected by the fragility of the current economic recovery and volatility in economic growth around the world.

The recent economic crisis in Greece is a perfect example. And in too many places, young people don’t see good jobs or bright futures ahead. At over 27 percent, youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa is more than twice the global average—a situation that is a breeding ground for instability.

Around the world, our national leaders continue to debate fiscal priorities while the threats to our nations are growing. And as we focus on the economic debate, current and potential adversaries are investing in asymmetric and 5th generation technologies that will enable them to challenge our values and our interests.

We must find a better solution to address our fiscal challenges that ensures that our defense spending remains aligned with our respective national security strategies. However, maintaining our competitive advantage requires more than an investment of resources. It demands that we invest in our talent and future innovators as well.

And this leads me to our fourth and final megatrend—the one that could hamper our ability to solve the other three. Simply stated, it is the talent gap between the technologies we need and the skilled employees to develop and use them. 

That gap is growing larger by the day. There simply aren’t enough students graduating in the STEM fields to meet the increasing demand to solve today’s bigger and more complex problems. We must find new ways to break down barriers to get the best talent from around the world working on our toughest challenges.

I’ve highlighted four megatrends shaping our world, and the effects of these four megatrends are cumulative. Each reinforces the others. Collectively, they have the potential to create the most complex global security environment we’ve ever seen. So how do we address them? I believe the ways that we are, and can, address these challenges is through partnership, innovation and investment.

In partnerships, for example, I see joint efforts like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the MH-60 Romeo helicopter programs as models for how to successfully navigate the evolving global power dynamic. Both programs are partnerships. Both integrate solutions across national borders. Both promote shared knowledge by partner nations.

These partnerships provide the opportunity to learn from each other, share best practices, address common challenges and create jobs for our citizens. In a larger sense, partnerships like these allow us to unite around the common goals of protecting our citizens and providing for peace in our regions.

Along the same lines, as we address population growth, competition for scarce resources must turn into collaboration to protect and share those resources. Innovative technologies can help us all do this. That means our governments need to make a greater investment in technologies now, to help prevent greater disasters later.

For example, at Lockheed Martin, we’ve been investing for decades in smart, natural and safe energy technologies like wave and tidal power, intelligent microgrids, and ocean thermal energy conversion, among many others. Investing in innovative technologies like these will help to preserve our resources, slow the effects of climate change and decrease our energy costs. And, exciting sustainable technologies are also sparking the imaginations of our youth and inspiring them to pursue STEM careers.  

Moreover, new technologies provide more than just resource management. They help ensure security and stability as well. That’s why I’m such a strong advocate for investing in partnerships and R&D.

As an industry, we know we must do our part in preparing our nation, our partners and the world for the future threats that we will face. And that’s why we will continue to partner with others in industry, and we’ll continue to invest in R&D and new technologies.

However, it takes more than investment in technology. We must invest in our talent, and we must inspire the next generation of innovators to address the growing talent gap. We need the best and brightest to help us push the envelope of innovation. People like engineer Andrea Boyd who is the only Australian here on Earth that is working in the Flight Control Team for the International Space Station. Or Australia’s first astronaut, former NASA engineer Andy Thomas, a veteran of four space missions.

With role models like these—and government and industry working together on initiatives to encourage and educate our youth—we can inspire the next generation to pursue careers in STEM by showing them how exciting and rewarding these jobs can be. Investing in our talent today is critical to solving the challenges our nations’ will face tomorrow.

In closing, while we face daunting megatrends that drive the need for our immediate and collective attention as nations, I believe that—through partnership, innovation and investment in a strong defense, in technology and in talent—we will meet the challenges of our time. And as we’ve done before, we will rise to these challenges and shape the future together.      

Thank you.

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