Shift in Priorities

By Erwin, Sandra I. | National Defense, August 2006 | Go to article overview

Shift in Priorities


Erwin, Sandra I., National Defense


Office of Naval Research turns attention to 'irregular' warfare

More than three years of fighting in Iraq have yet to bring about a major shift in technology spending priorities at the Pentagon, a senior official says. The conflict, which in almost every measure has been a non-traditional "irregular" war, continues to expose equipment gaps that could take several more years to fill.

"We need more resources for irregular warfare," says George W. Solhan, deputy chief of naval research and retired U.S. Marine.

Compared to how much money the United States spends on new fighter jets, submarines and other big-ticket weapons systems, it is severely "under-investing" in technologies for unconventional warfare, Solhan tells National Defense.

"One of these days, if China emerges as a peer competitor, it might be very important" to have those expensive conventional weapons, he adds. "But right now, and for the foreseeable future, we have this war going on, and we are not putting nearly enough money in this area."

Following guidance from the Navy's top command, the Office of Naval Research is redirecting funds to non-traditional combat areas, Solhan says. This year, ONR is spending almost $160 million on counterterrorism programs, from a total research budget of $1.6 billion. The allocation of funds could begin to change in fiscal 2008, after ONR completes a top-down review of its programs later this year.

Much of the Navy's research work in unconventional warfare is closely aligned with the Marine Corps and the Army, Solhan says. The Navy's littoral and riverine units will need much of the same technology that ground forces employ.

Areas of top concern include communications for dismounted troops, lighter and more effective protective gear, and improved tactical vehicles.

The Marine Corps envisions that, in future conflicts, troops will be widely dispersed, and therefore will require advanced communications devices that are lightweight and reliable. "Every individual Marine will be a node" in a larger network offerees, Solhan explains.

Based on this premise, ONR is pursuing research aimed at producing miniaturized antennae that could be inserted into the body armor ensemble but still be efficient enough to transmit and receive data.

Most ground troops today don't have pocket-sized radios that are low-cost, secure and able to function in any environment. Solhan attributes this to a cultural bias in the military research establishment toward traditional programs aimed at fighting large-scale wars.

"In my opinion, the Army is doing a superb job and is focused on the future combat systems ... But I don't think that they are quite as committed to doing much at the soldier level," Solhan says, even though the Army is taking steps in that direction.

Neither ONR nor Army researchers, however, have yet been able to crack the code on a colossal challenge confronting scientists: How to lighten the equipment load troops must carry on their backs.

"Combat load is a huge issue," says Solhan. Soldiers and Marines are weighed down by 30 pounds of body armor and at least 50 to 60 pounds of gear in their rucksacks.

"We have lightweight stuff, but we make the poor guy carry more of it," Solhan says.

Mechanical load-carriage devices, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's "exoskeletons," are not realistic solutions, he adds. They are bulky structures that would allow a soldier to carry hundreds more pounds of weight, but are impractical for use in the battlefield and require energy to operate the hydraulics and pneumatic systems.

Solhan is doubtful that the combat load will drop much below 90 pounds, which is the same weight he himself carried as an infantryman in Vietnam four decades ago. It would make more sense to boost soldiers' fitness, so they can carry the weight, he says. "My theory is that we have to make the Marine or sailor higher performing, and then he can carry more .

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Shift in Priorities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.