Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau Before Their Meeting

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Reykjavik, Iceland

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Marc, good morning.

FOREIGN MINISTER GARNEAU:  Good morning, Tony.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Great to see you.  So pleased to have a chance to spend some time with my friend, the minister of foreign affairs.  We have been meeting in all sorts of places – in Brussels for NATO, in London at the G7, now here in Reykjavik.  And of course, as always, we have a lot to cover, but I think we’re primarily focused on what brings us here today, which is the Arctic Council meeting and the shared commitment of the United States and Canada to work to preserve this region as a place for peaceful cooperation and positive human endeavor, whether it’s sustainable development, whether it’s dealing with climate, whether it’s advancing science, looking out for the interests and well-being of indigenous peoples – a lot to work on.

I think I’m grateful, and I suspect Marc is as well, for the remarkable leadership of Iceland and its chairmanship of the Council.  So we look forward to coming together on the work that Iceland has done, and then preparation for the handoff to Russia for its chairmanship.  But lots, of course, to talk about on many other parts of the world, but meanwhile, it’s just great to see you, as always, and look forward to getting down to work.

FOREIGN MINISTER GARNEAU:  Well, thank you very much, Tony.  It’s always a pleasure to be with you again.

(Speaking in French.)

It’s a real pleasure to be here with Secretary Blinken and the United States delegation to talk about issues that are important to both our countries and to the Arctic Council itself with whom we share a great deal in common with respect to the future of the Arctic.  As Secretary Blinken mentioned, the importance of taking into consideration the indigenous peoples who have lived in the certain polar Arctic region for millennia as well as carefully developing it, but in a sustainable fashion and, of course, being mindful of environmental change, which is going on very, very seriously at this time.

Canada and the United States have a strong and enduring relationship and we share a great deal in common with respect to the Arctic and with respect to our continental security as well, and we face the same challenges with COVID at the moment and economic recovery.  And so there’s always lots to talk about between our two countries, but I welcome this opportunity to be here with you, Secretary.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Speaking in French.)

FOREIGN MINISTER GARNEAU:  (Speaking in French.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Speaking in French.)

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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) is making changes to its space-related processes and organization that will present both opportunities and challenges to the way it acquires its space systems. GAO has reported over the past decades on challenges DOD faces in its space acquisitions—including schedule delays, multibillion-dollar cost increases, significant reductions in capabilities, and in some cases cancelation—and made recommendations that have improved program outcomes. For example, DOD took actions to implement a GAO recommendation to use an incremental approach to acquiring space launch services. DOD's modified approach reduced risk by allowing it to incorporate knowledge gained from early launch competitions to inform subsequent competitions. Many of the most troubled programs are nearing completion, and DOD is starting new programs to develop the next generation of capabilities, some of which are being acquired under a streamlined acquisition process known as the middle-tier of acquisition pathway (see table below). Starting new programs is an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and take measures to put programs on successful paths. GAO's work has shown that in many cases, DOD is attempting to do so. Selected New DOD Space Programs and Near-Term Estimated Costs Dollars in billions New program Current estimated costs for 5-year middle-tier effort Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) Protected satellite communications $1.4 Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) Ground control for Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites $3.0 Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Block 0 Missile warning, infrared intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance $8.4 Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) Protected satellite communications $1.0 Source: Department of Defense (DOD) data. | GAO-21-520T However, DOD faces challenges because it will be starting these new programs amid significant changes to the acquisition environment. Some of these changes are external to DOD, such as increased threats to on-orbit space systems. But over the past several years, DOD also initiated substantial organizational and acquisition process changes. While the Space Force offers an important opportunity to streamline lines of authority, accountability, and decision-making and avoid duplication of effort, many details will require careful consideration. In addition, adopting leading practices for acquisition, as previously recommended, could help DOD achieve faster delivery of new capabilities, especially if DOD balances new, streamlined acquisition processes with sufficient oversight to help ensure program success. Why GAO Did This Study DOD space systems provide critical capabilities that support military and other government operations. Space systems can be expensive to acquire and field, costing billions of dollars each year. The U.S. Space Force was recently established as the sixth branch of the U.S. military. As planned, the Space Force will consolidate leadership, planning, and management for some DOD space programs, as appropriate and authorized. This statement discusses the challenges and opportunities DOD faces as it acquires space systems amid changes to the acquisition environment. This statement is based on GAO reports issued over the past 10 years on DOD space programs. It also draws on recent work supporting GAO's 2021 annual report on the progress of major defense acquisition programs.
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