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Pallas Foundation Hosts the First National Security Innovation Forum

17 November 2023

Washington, DC — The Pallas Foundation for National Security Leadership is excited to announce that it has hosted the first National Security Innovation Forum at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center on Thursday, Nov. 16.

The National Security Innovation Forum was an opportunity for senior leaders to discuss their contributions in mitigating the defense innovation challenges our nation faces, as well as explain how future leaders can continue to accelerate this work. With the goal of producing actionable insights across several themes, the forum challenged each participant to think about ways to, as the CJCS says, “accelerate change or lose.”

The event brought together leaders from government, academia and the private sector who are seeking to leverage innovation to make our country more secure. Mike Bloomberg opened the event with a call to action for those in attendance.

The first panel included US SOUTHCOM Commander, General Laura Richardson who spoke on both the challenges she faces in her area of responsibility but also the opportunities. She shared the stage with former Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer.

In particular, the panelists noted the increased efforts of China to gain traction in Latin America and the actions the U.S. can take to not only counter their actions but to grow and deepen relations with those countries. "We are part of this region. We have so many cultural ties, family ties, economic ties, and we need to pay more attention to our neighbors as part of the western hemisphere," said General Richardson.

There was a wide ranging discussion on technology with Congressman Ken Calvert, Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Doug Beck, Director of the Defense Innovation Unit, and Charles Phillips, Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Recognize.

There was agreement across the panelists on the need to reduce barriers to integrating technology as well as the need to ensure the U.S. continues to lead on the development and use of technology. As was highlighted earlier in the day, China is our lead competitor here as well.

This event hosted Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. for his first public speech. General Brown gave a strategic view of the responsibilities he inherited just a few weeks ago and noted how quickly that changed with the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7. He highlighted that it is in this kind of kinetic environment that the U.S. military must operate. He knows we have to be prepared for the future, but that we must also be ready to take on the challenges we have today. He welcomed the just completed meetings between President Biden and President Xi and while he hadn’t yet gotten a call from his Chinese counterpart, he was expecting it to happen soon.

In what was probably the most interesting portion of the day, after his remarks, General Brown sat down with one of his predecessors, former CJCS Admiral (Ret.) Mike Mullen for a one-on-one conversation.

In the back and forth with Admiral Mullen, General Brown emphasized what motivates him and why he serves: “What drives me? Making a difference, that’s why I serve. It’s something I’ve always believed in. I think it goes back to my parents, my grandparents, what they instilled in me. I’m competitive and I like pressure.”

All of the participants came away from the day with both an understanding of what we face, but also on what each person can do to make a difference.

“This is just the first of what will be a continuing conversation between senior government leaders, innovators from the private sector and academics/researchers focused on finding solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time,” Sue Gordon, President, Pallas Foundation. The Pallas Foundation hosted the forum as an extension of our work to enhance the development of leadership across different national security private and public organizations. Video Highlights from the Forum are accessible at: ### About Pallas Foundation The Pallas Foundation aims to foster the education and professional development of emerging leaders with an emphasis on underrepresented groups in global and national security.


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