For some time I have been trying to make the point that the United States' military technological superiority is being challenged in ways we have not seen for decades. This is not a future problem, nor is it speculative. My concerns are based on the intelligence reports I have received on a daily basis for almost five years.

Some time ago, I asked the Defense Intelligence Agency to produce a poster size document showing the scope of China's modernization programs in key war-fighting areas. The result is a dense compendium of dozens of programs. More recently, I asked my staff to prepare a similar depiction of the United States' ongoing and projected modernization programs. The two documents are strikingly different.

The chart on China is dense with program descriptions and timelines. The chart on the US programs is characterized by a high amount of white space. China and Russia are fielding state-of-the-art weapons designed specifically to overmatch US capabilities. This challenge is the reason I introduced Better Buying Power 3.0 (BBP 3.0) a few weeks ago.

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BBP 3.0 represents an emphasis toward innovation and technological superiority. It is consistent with a management philosophy of continuous improvement; it is not a fundamental change in direction. The vast majority of the efforts to improve productivity and efficiency that then-Undersecretary Ash Carter and I introduced in 2010, and which I modified in BBP 2.0 in 2012, will continue.

These initiatives are improving the way we do business and are bringing about positive change. The workforce is more cost-conscious, and we are striking better business deals for the taxpayer and the war fighter, but this isn't enough. The purpose of the defense acquisition system is to give our military an unfair advantage on any battlefield.

See the other contributors to "2015 Outlook."

In the face of increasing and sophisticated threats to our technological superiority, paying a reasonable price for the equipment we acquire and incentivizing industry to perform at its best is a means to an end, not the end itself. While we will continue those efforts, we have to turn our attention more toward meeting the very real challenges to our technological superiority.

BBP 3.0 will focus on the ways we pursue innovation and acquire technology. All of our investments in research and development will be reviewed with the goal of improving the output of those investments. We will look for ways to reduce cycle time for product development. We will examine the barriers to greater use of commercial and international sources of technology.

The emphasis on the professionalism of the acquisition workforce that I introduced in BBP 2.0 will continue, but the focus now will be on encouraging innovation and technical excellence; not just within the defense government enterprise but across industry as well. We will conduct a long-range research and development planning effort to ensure we are investing in the highest payoff technologies. We will seek resources to increase the use of prototyping and experimentation. Our ability to accept and manage risk, which is essential to technological superiority and inherent in cutting edge programs, will be re-examined.

The greatest threat, however, is the adequacy of the resources we will have to pursue this goal. Political gridlock and inadequate investment budgets, particularly under sequestration, are the greatest threats to our technological superiority.

As a nation we must overcome these threats, or we will wake up one day to the realization that the United States is no longer the most capable military power on the planet.

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