The new vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is looking for “significant improvement” in the way the Pentagon classifies information, he said Jan. 29.

“In many cases in the department, we’re just so overclassified, it’s ridiculous, just unbelievably ridiculous,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten at a Wednesday breakfast event sponsored by the Air Force Association on Capitol Hill.

Senior defense officials including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper concur with Hyten’s perspective, he noted. A process is ongoing to attempt to loosen classification standards so that the Defense Department brass can more clearly communicate with subordinates within the department, as well as the public and industry partners, he added.

“We have got to push down the classification to where it makes sense,” Hyten said. “The good part is the chairman and the secretary have raised that issue, and we’re working that.

“I think this year, we’re going to have some significant improvement in that so we can actually share some very important things with our allies, with industry,” he continued.

Hyten’s comments follow similar ones from new Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, who told the audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum last December that she intended to work on declassifying space programs.

“There is much more classified than what needs to be,” she said at the forum in California.

Meanwhile, the Air Force chief of staff said at a Monday event in Washington, D.C., that the department – encompassing the Air Force and the new Space Force – planned to invest heavily in space capabilities that will allow the U.S. military to “punch back” at adversaries in the domain.

Many of these new programs will be classified, and the service is increasing its meetings with congressional staffers holding clearances to keep them appraised of those efforts, he said at the event, which was hosted by the Center for a New American Security.

Hyten noted on Wednesday that the Defense Department must “do a better job” of engaging with industry as it works to promote many of its top priorities, including the concept of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

“If you want to come see me, come see me,” Hyten said. “The door is open.”

JADC2, which has evolved from the Air Force’s concept of “Multidomain command and control” or what former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joe Dunford previously called “global integration,” will be one of the department’s “highest priorities,” Hyten noted. “It’s going to be a big challenge, and it’s not fully understood, but the key is to create the environment for all services and integrate all domains and effectively operate. It’s really that simple.

“But in order to do that effectively, you have to be able to access all the data,” he added.