Today’s ROTC graduates are better prepared than ever to use the technologies the United States is developing and employing, Undersecretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks told the graduating ROTC class today. of the National Capital Region.

This is great news for the military, as such readiness will be crucial to meeting the challenges facing the United States today, Hicks said during the launch at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia. “You have distinguished yourself in a significant way and have made all Americans proud.”

“This is a separate group,” Hicks said. “You have shown exemplary leadership in the field and at the detachment level, pushing each other and those under your charge. Impressive, four of you are graduating Distinguished Military Graduates today, this that puts you in the top 20% of all cadets nationwide.. 13 of you have parents who were members of our Joint Force, and 35 of you are the first in your family to serve. And five of our cadets are first-generation Americans. Nine of our 87s are “green to gold cadets” [who] previously served [in the] armed forces.”

Soon, some graduates will enter active military duty, some will go to the reserves and others will report to their state’s National Guard, Hicks said. “No matter where you’re headed, you’ll be working side-by-side with military and civilian personnel across the world – all of whom are dedicated to defending our nation.” Today’s class is the first graduate since 9/11 who will not see combat in Afghanistan, she added.

“[The] The United States faces a myriad of challenges. First and foremost, we are thinking of the Ukrainian people. Russia’s war and brutal tactics show that it continues to pose an acute threat to the international system,” the deputy secretary said.

But even as the United States faces nefarious Russian activity, China is the military’s most significant competitor and the Defense Department’s pace challenge. It has the military, economic and technological capacity to challenge both the international system and US interests, Hicks said.

The DOD also continues to face persistent regional threats from North Korea, Iran, and violent extremist organizations. It also faces cross-border challenges – such as climate change – that impact its operations and missions, she noted.

“First, the cornerstone of our National Defense Strategy 2022 is ‘integrated deterrence’. At its core, integrated deterrence requires the integration of our military ‘in all domains and across the full spectrum of conflict,'” she declared.

But, more than that, it includes new concepts of operation, such as breaking down silos between services and their capabilities and coordinated operations on land, in the air, at sea, in space and in cyberspace. , Hicks pointed out.

“That means you have to know and rely on your teammates from the start,” she said. “I know that over the past year your ROTC detachment commanders deliberately ensured that you were all exposed and got to know each other’s branches. You didn’t stay siloed in your department,” said she declared.

A second approach to addressing the challenges the United States faces is evident in its commitment to invest more deeply in defense-critical advanced systems and technologies, the assistant secretary emphasized.

“One of America’s greatest comparative advantages is our ingenuity and inventiveness,” she said. “That is why [President Joe Biden’s] The 2023 budget request aims to invest in advanced systems, like missile defeat and missile defense; long-range fire, including hypersonic weapons, space and space systems; cyber activities and DOD’s own digital modernization. »

Hicks said the DOD has asked Congress for more than $130 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation to help develop the critical 5G and artificial intelligence technologies needed for the future. .

“For many of you, your relationship with technology is fundamentally stronger than that of previous generations. As digital natives, you are comfortable imagining how advanced devices and digital applications can provide an advantage. You adapt quickly and seamlessly when you are presented with new software and more data,” she noted.

“We ask that you support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the assistant secretary said before swearing in each of them.

“The oath attests to your dedication to public service, your willingness to put the needs of others before your own, and your commitment to upholding the values ​​we hold dear. And because of your solemn pledge today, I know that States United and our democratic way of life is safer, because our national security is now in your good hands,” Hicks said. “I and all who have come here to support you today deeply respect and honor your selflessness and your willingness to serve our country.”