On January 17, 2021, Lieutenant General John “JT” Thomson III (Ret.), a former Army Senior Service Fellow at The Institute of World Politics, delivered a virtual keynote address for the Astor Perkins’ All Things Space and Survival Event. LTG Thomson discussed the change and advancing technology in the defense sector.
LTG Thomson began his speech by reflecting on his military service and discussing how the military is only one instrument of power and how there are limitations to the military. He noted that strength deters aggression and that “ready, modernized, and capable military forces are essential to our strength but are only a part of a larger orchestration of all the elements of national power.” He mentioned that he would like to echo the “pragmatic thinking” of The Institute of World Politics.
LTG Thomson discussed how the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy are sound documents that convincingly predict a new era of great power competition, but, with a new administration, the longevity of these specific documents is in question. Inter-state strategic competition is the United States’ primary national security concern. LTG Thomson then dove into how the United States’ complex security environment is defined by rapid technological change, challenges from adversaries, and more.
LTG Thomson discussed three main points about technology in the defense sector. His first point was the importance of technology and how those who take advantage of technological innovation will remain at an advantage. His second crucial point was “never say never, never say always.” The United States was surprised by the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Lieutenant General Thomson argued that boxed-in thinking and assumptions are inhibitors to innovation. In his third point, LTG Thomson argued for the importance of hard work, innovation, and having the courage to seize opportunities.
LTG Thomson concluded by discussing the importance of trust. He noted that the United States owes trust to its soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardians, and the nation. LTG Thomson said that he believes that the U.S. must take advantage of innovative technology, but “we must do so with paramount regard to building trust.”