On Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, Northrop Grumman Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Wes Bush spoke at the US-Japan Council Conference. Below are his remarks.

Thanks, Tracey.  Good morning, everyone!

I was delighted to receive the invitation to speak to you this morning from Irene Hirano Inouye.

Thank you, Irene, for having me this morning and for your great work on behalf of this council.

Partnerships – even partnerships between nations – are very human things because at their most elemental level, they sit on a foundation of trust.  And that human dynamic is the focus of this council.  This council cultivates the people-to-people contact that trust needs to thrive.

Northrop Grumman is proud to support these efforts to bring people together from our two nations, and to cultivate trust and good will through such wonderful efforts as the Tomodachi Initiative.  You will hear more about that inspiring program over the course of this conference.

This morning, I’d like to develop these ideas on partnerships.  But I would like to narrow the window a bit to focus on my area of experience – national security and the partnerships necessary to protect it.

And let me begin with some good news:  At every level, and from every perspective, I contend that Japan and the United States represent a perfect partnership with which to face the strategic and security challenges of the Western Pacific.

What are those challenges?

We may currently be focused on the erratic leadership of North Korea.  And we may be focused on the aggressive sovereignty claims of China.  In addition, Russia must be watched carefully.

But there are other challenges as well, that we cannot neglect.  These are the challenges associated with a changed – and a changing – world.

The old order of the Cold War in which the free world faced off against the totalitarian world is long gone.  Today the threats are global, diffuse, and often invisible.

Today, nuclear arsenals reside in the hands of rogue nations that might be unpredictable or fanatical, and often defy diplomacy or negotiation.

Today, there are also the quieter, but still dangerous threats from cyberattack mounted by some of these same actors – but also mounted by actors other than nation states. 

There was a time when the nation state dominated.  Its structure and stability allowed for a useful situational awareness that served to limit misunderstandings and miscalculations.  Today that kind of situational awareness has lessened.

In many places around the world, nation-states have given way to dangerous actors operating anonymously, who claim no national home.  Often, the objectives of those organizations are more akin to organized crime empires than political movements.

Their weapon of choice is often cyberattack.  And with that weapon, they have demonstrated an offensive potential as devastating to national economies as many of the actions a nation-state might take.

And one more wrinkle: There is no longer any certain correlation between the geographic location of an attacker, and the nation being attacked.

We might refer to cyberattack as a soft threat.  If so, the more conventional concerns of air and missile attack might be considered hard threats.  In years past we would have consoled ourselves that such hard threats could only originate from nation-states advanced, stable and prosperous enough to develop the technologies.

No longer.

These hard threats are now accessible to non-state actors as well.

Last week, the press reported that a rebel group in Yemen, aligned with Iran, claimed responsibility for launching a missile at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Those reports claimed that the missile flew 500 miles toward Riyadh’s main airport before Saudi anti-missile defenses intercepted and destroyed it.

That attack should tell us that even the hard threats – like the threat of missile attack – are now within the reach of non-state actors.

Hard threats or soft;

State or non-state actors;

Actors motivated by politics, religion, or simple greed;

Actors located in proximity to our respective shores, or threatening us from the other side of the globe.

Today, Japan and the US must contend with incredible uncertainty – a level of uncertainty that will only intensify.  And uncertainty is an offensive advantage because it requires defenses that are everywhere at once.

So, how do allied nations defend against such an advantage?

One of the most effective counters to this uncertainty is partnership – specifically, those rare partnerships that can leverage common strengths, unique capabilities and mutual objectives.  By this definition, Japan and the United States are incredibly compatible partners.  And we are perhaps most compatible in the cultural qualities that make us both innovator countries.

There are reasons why some nations are engines of innovation while others rely on the theft of intellectual property.  Nations like Japan and the United States are innovation producers because we value and cultivate all the predicates that make great innovation possible:

Quality education that allows people to pursue their interests;

A free economy supported by the rule of law and property rights that incentivize hard work through healthy competition and the promise of reward.

Clearly, the innovation enabled by those freedoms repays their host countries many times over in the form of new industries, quality jobs, expanded tax bases, and the general betterment of the human condition – in short, in the creation of value where it didn’t exist before.

Innovation also binds us together.

For example, across the United States, thousands and thousands of Americans owe their living to a very innovative Japanese industry – automobile manufacturing.

Closer cooperation in security innovation also enables economic benefits.  Improved security is a natural enabler of broader economic growth.  And the record is clear in the United States and elsewhere, that security industries export far more innovation into their nations’ non-security economies than they import.

In the United States alone, the list of innovations that moved from the defense industry into the civilian world is long indeed.

It includes everything from communications satellites to propulsion advances, GPS, medical advances, computing advances and even the internet.

But there is a caveat: This kind of innovation is a long-term proposition.  It requires close cooperation between governments, industry, and academia.  And that requires time.

To my thinking, security innovation against the threats we face must be planned for at least ten to fifteen years out, and that planning must commence now.

Today, uncertainty increases and technology races forward.  And I contend that a critical juncture between those two factors is now upon us.

How do we know?

We know because any analysis of the security situation in the Western Pacific indicates an imperative for closer security cooperation between our two nations – and other allies in the region – particularly in the areas of innovation and technology planning.

Japan and the United States have much to gain from drawing closer in these areas.  Most urgently, a closer security partnership is the only way the growing uncertainty can be met;

It is also the best way to leverage our common cultural strengths as well as our unique capabilities;

It is clearly the most promising solution because it is so consistent with our free market and educational systems;

And it promises to generate value for our two countries that perhaps does not currently exist.

The best partnerships create value that exceeds the sum of the parts.  Japan and the United States have enjoyed the fruits of such partnerships in the past.  I mentioned automobile manufacturing, but there have been others as well.  The list of Nobel Prizes shared between Japanese and American researchers over the years attests to that.

The time has now arrived for a closer relationship between our two countries in the areas of security research and development.  I greatly look forward to the opportunity to make that partnership a success.

Thank you.