Defense Department Takes Steps to Energize Cutting-Edge Research

By Erwin, Sandra I. | National Defense, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Defense Department Takes Steps to Energize Cutting-Edge Research


Erwin, Sandra I., National Defense


The Defense Department is reorganizing its technology shop as it tries to light a fire under its science programs.

"Our technological superiority is under some threat," said Alan Shaffer, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering.

Leading-edge innovation at the Defense Department has been on a 20-year hiatus, Shaffer said in a recent interview. The sluggish pace of military research and technology development has sparked concern in the upper echelons of the Pentagon and prompted an examination of how it spends its $70 billion annual R&D budget.

"We've been looking at this for a couple of years," said Shaffer. There was a realization that the Pentagon's science efforts had become stagnant following the end of the Cold War and 13 years of counterinsurgency wars. "Now we're starting to see other countries using advanced electronic warfare, missiles and other technologies that will stress us," said Shaffer. "We are trying to really focus the R&D budget."

An innovation deficit partly has been blamed on budget cuts and short-term funding measures that have slowed efforts down. But a lack of vision also has been a problem. Programs are hailed as "game changers" one day and canceled the next. Internal turf rivalries at the Pentagon have made it difficult to create cohesive technology investment plans as money invested in one program might come at the expense of another.

To regain its tech edge, the Pentagon is realigning research priorities, centralizing the oversight of R&D projects and looking for better ways to work with the private sector.

It has identified 17 technology portfolios --which Shaffer described as "communities of interest" because each includes representatives from the Pentagon's laboratories, organizations like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and from each branch of the military.

The 17 portfolios are data and analytics, engineering resilient systems, cyber technology, electronic warfare, countering weapons of mass destruction, autonomy, human systems, advanced electronics, air platforms, biomedical, countering improvised explosive devices, energy and power, ground and sea platforms, materials and manufacturing, sensors, space, and weapons.

Each portfolio is overseen by a senior defense official, Shaffer said. "We are trying to get a more coherent, integrated plan so industry can come to one place instead of having to chase down the Army, Navy and Air Force. This will reduce unintended duplication." The idea, too, is to spend R&D dollars more wisely, he said. "We put people in charge who control the money in their service. They are looking for opportunities to use other people's money."

The Pentagon has seen its research budgets decline by about 20 percent over the past five years. The Defense Department is seeking to reverse that decline and plans to spend $69.8 billion on research, development, testing and engineering in 2016.

Defense contractors spend about $4 billion to $5 billion a year on R&D. The Pentagon needs to pay more attention to how corporate R&D is invested so it is not duplicating efforts, said Shaffer. His office would like to see more companies join virtual discussions that the Pentagon hosts on its DefenselnnovationMarketplace.mil portal. "If we can make industry aware of where we have our limitations, industry is pretty smart and will spend money to capture some market," he said. Face-to-face exchanges also will occur at conferences hosted by industry groups. "There's nothing I detest more than someone saying, 'Go look at the web,' but in an era when we cannot always be together, it's a good way to exchange information."

R&D investment plans are now the subject of a sweeping review led by Deputy Secretary Robert Work. He has called on the Pentagon to make big and bold investments to create technological "surprises. …

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

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Defense Department Takes Steps to Energize Cutting-Edge Research
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.