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Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall Gets 2024 Wash100 Award for Advancing Rapid Acquisition, Modernization

Executive Mosaic is honored to introduce Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall as a winner of the 2024 Wash100 Award for driving rapid acquisition and artificial intelligence adoption and advancing modernization priorities.

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This marks the fifth time that he has been selected to Executive Mosaic’s annual list of the top 100 leaders from the government and GovCon business.

“I am humbled to be recognized along with so many visionary leaders across the government and private sector. I would focus your attention to the over 700,000 Airmen, Guardians and civil servants in the Department of the Air Force who work to provide security on behalf of the nation today and every day around the world,” Kendall said of the Wash100 award. “These dedicated professionals are our decisive advantage in a growing strategic competition that shapes the international environment. Their efforts are the ones that keep us free and preserve our values.”

“In spite of the exquisite weapons systems that distinguish the Air Force and Space Force, Secretary Kendall’s assiduous focus on the dedicated force of men and women defending the country is the Air Force’s primary strength,” commented Jim Garrettson, CEO of Executive Mosaic and founder of the Wash100 Award.

Military branches and other Department of Defense components have been advancing the use of AI. In June, Kendall asked the service branch’s scientific advisory board to look at the potential military applications of generative AI.

Kendall noted that are currently limited applications of ChatGPT and other generative AI for the military.

“I’m looking, and we’re all looking, right? But having it write documents for you, which is what ChatGPT does? [It] is not is not reliable, in terms of the truthfulness of what it produces,” Kendall said.

Kendall has pushed for DOD to advance rapid acquisition. In an op-ed published in June, he called on Congress to back a legislative proposal that would authorize DOD to begin work on “new start” programs before securing congressional approval to rapidly deploy capabilities, maintain the country’s competitive advantage and help strengthen deterrence.

“This proposal represents low-hanging fruit that would eliminate one to two years from critically needed programs without any risk,” Kendall wrote in the piece.

He noted that the proposed measure would require service secretaries to secure approval from the secretary of Defense and inform Congress within 15 days.

At the Potomac Officers Club’s 2023 Air Force Summit, Kendall told the audience that the service was exploring the changes that must be implemented as contested logistics becomes increasingly important to military preparedness.

During the event, he noted that he is focused on budgets for fiscal year 2024 and 2025 and will continue to prioritize programs that could help address the challenge posed by China.

“My big concern in 25 is that we have capped defense at a level which is going to make it very difficult to continue the things we started in 24 at the pace that we need to continue them at. We’re going to protect those things. They’re going to be our highest priority. So those programs, we’re not going to go backwards on, but we may not be able to go forward as fast as I would like,” Kendall said.

In September, the former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics delivered a keynote address at a conference, urging Congress to pass a full-year budget and confirm all military nominations while highlighting the threat posed by China.

During the event, Kendall also touched on his seven operational imperatives for the Air Force to modernize to counter emerging threats and challenges: space order of battle; operationally focused Advanced Battle Management System; moving target engagement; tactical air dominance; resilient basing; global strike; and readiness to deploy and fight.

“Despite my impatience, I feel that we have made a good start on the modernization front and that our way forward is now well defined,” he said of the imperatives.

He highlighted the need for the Department of the Air Force to reoptimize itself for great power competition and power projection to deter threats from adversaries.

“We need to examine all aspects of how the Department of the Air Force is structured and operates and be open to major changes that reflect the requirements of the National Defense Strategy to deter and, if necessary, prevail against China or Russia,” Kendall said. “We must ensure that the Air Force and Space Force are optimized to provide integrated deterrence, support campaigning, and ensure enduring advantage.”

At the same event, the secretary announced the formation of the Air Task Force, which he said marks the next step in the service’s Force Generation model.

“On Friday, I approved the Air Force creation of three Air Task Forces to serve as pilots in order to experiment with ways to more effectively provide deployable, integrated units — two for U.S. Central Command and one for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command… they are a major step in the right direction, and we will learn from this experience,” he said at the time.

During a symposium in April, Kendall called on the Space Force to drive transformational change and stressed that space capabilities are key to the integrated deterrence strategy.

In November, the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Eastern Air Defense Sector conducted the initial operating capability rollout of the Cloud-Based Command and Control system, which is designed to provide decision makers and end users with detailed situational awareness of the battlefield.

At an event celebrating the milestone, Kendall noted that the CBC2 deployment reflects the ingenuity and hard work of U.S. airmen.

Their dedication to advancing our command-and-control capabilities is instrumental in achieving the department’s second operational imperative — achieving operationally optimized Advanced Battle Management Systems — while maintaining technological superiority in a rapidly evolving threat landscape,” he said.

Executive Mosaic congratulates Frank Kendall and the Air Force organization for their selection to receive the 2024 Wash100 Award.

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