Terror War Calls for Higher R&D Spending

Article excerpt

The war on terrorism--with its emphasis on laser-guided munitions, unmanned vehicles and satellite communications--highlights a need for in-creased funds for research and development of new defense-related technologies, according to Pentagon officials.

The Bush administration has requested $53.9 billion for Defense Department research, development, test and evaluation programs in fiscal year 2003, said Robert W. Baker, deputy director of the department's science and technology programs. That is a $5.5 billion increase over 2002--a nearly 10 percent jump--he told the 2002 Science & Engineering Technology Conference, in Charleston, S.C., organized by the National Defense Industrial Association.

The RDT&E request is part of a total proposed defense budget of $379 billion in 2003. That is an increase of $48 billion, or 12 percent over 2002, officials said.

The plus-up for RDT&E is intended to support the priorities established by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Navy Rear Adm. Stanley R. Szemborski, deputy director for force structure, resources and assessment (J-8) for the Joint Staff. The surprise attacks of September 11 forced the chiefs to reshape those priorities, he told the conferees. The new list, he said, includes winning the global war on terrorism, improving the joint warfighting capabilities of the armed forces and transforming those forces, so that they are ready to face future challenges.

The anti-terror campaign is "a new kind of war,'" with diplomatic, financial, intelligence and law enforcement aspects, Szemborski said. "Even the Internal Revenue Service is involved," he said. "Thankfully, they're on our side."

The involvement of all of these players "requires a greater level of interagency coordination than ever before," Szemborski noted. The United States is working to improve military and interagency collaboration, but he confessed: "We have a problem with interoperability. There's not enough money in the world to make everything interoperable, but we don't have to do that."

"We must foster a climate of innovation and change," he said. "We need to build a process and organization capable of rapidly infusing currently unknown changes into the entire force as effortlessly as possible," he added.

With this in mind, he said, the department is establishing "standing joint-force headquarters within the offices of each of the five unified commanders in chiefs, or CINCs. The U.S. Joint Forces Command, in Norfolk, Va., stood up the first of these SJFHQs in February. These new units-to be made up of 55 planners, operations experts and communications specialists--are supposed to do the advance planning and training necessary to form larger joint task forces to handle rapidly developing crises.

The SJFHQs are meant to develop relationships with academic, industrial and government centers of excellence, collaborating with them during crises and pulling their specialized knowledge into the CING's planning process, Szemborski said.

Promising Concepts

The department's research and development program is designed to develop new technologies that will give the services "revolutionary war-winning capabilities," said Baker. Recent examples, he said, included stealth, night vision, global positioning systems, adaptive optics and lasers, and phased array radar.

Of the $53.9 billion proposed for defense RDT&E in 2003, $9.9 billion--or 19 percent of the total--would go to the Pentagon's science and technology programs, which conduct basic and applied research into promising concepts.

S&T funding reached about the same level in the early 1990s, Walter E. Morrow Jr., director emeritus of MIT Lincoln Laboratory, told a congressional hearing. "By 1998, the proposed funding had decreased to $7.4 billion," he said.

A study by the Defense Science Board found that typical high-technology companies devoted about 3. …

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