By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Regardless of who wins the U.S. presidential election, top Pentagon leaders will urge their successors to focus on four top priorities - cyber, space, nuclear deterrent and electronic warfare, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said.
"Those are the four things that we have the most difficulty coming to grips with in the department because they go across so many different functional areas," Work told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday, after a speech in Colorado.
Work said the Pentagon had now created organizations that looked at these four areas across the services to identify priorities, gaps and overlaps and ensure what he called an "enterprise-wide" approach.
Those bodies will help the department as it builds a budget plan for fiscal 2018, although the actual budget may change since it will be submitted early next year by the new president.
Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Raytheon Co and other weapons makers keep close tabs on budget planning to see what new business opportunities may arise.
Work acknowledged that a new administration could map out different priorities, but said the current leaders would urge their successors to keep pushing ahead on those four key areas.
"We've concluded that you really have to have integrated efforts," he said. "We think we can make a compelling case."
In the space arena, Work said the Pentagon has launched a major effort to better coordinate across the department, and with the intelligence community as it seeks to protect satellites against attacks by Russia, China and other potential adversaries. [L2N17F2AY]
"You can do all sorts of things in space, but if the services don’t pay for their receivers, it doesn't really matter, it's just a bunch of junk up there," Work said.
Work said he and General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced "huge" decisions this November about next steps for two satellite programs for missile warning and protected satellite communications, both built by Lockheed Martin Corp.
They will also decide the future of an experimental joint space operations center, he said.
Similar efforts to better coordinate and synchronize programs are underway in the cyber arena, with the Pentagon's Cyber Investment Management Board helping to identify priority programs that need beefed up cybersecurity measures, Work said.
The Pentagon also has similar bodies to coordinate efforts in the area of nuclear weapons, as well as so-called electronic warfare, which involves use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrew Hay)