DOD pushes R&D investment

The money that Congress invests in defense science and technology research now will resoundingly impact how this country fights future wars, according to several experts who testified March 27 on Capitol Hill.

Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee's Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, five of the Defense Department's top technological minds described the importance of increased spending on science and technology research and development.

Ronald Sega, director of defense research and engineering, said he has outlined five goals for the department to fulfill in its ongoing transformation, which seeks to improve DOD's ability to collect, analyze and act on information. Those goals are:

* Integrate DOD science and technology and focus on transformation.

* Enhance technology transition.

* Address the national security science and engineering workforce.

* Expand outreach to the combatant commanders and intelligence community.

* Accelerate support for the war on terrorism.

"Simply adding money to the [science and technology] accounts will not ensure transformation," Sega said. "We have also focused the [fiscal 2004] budget request on several important technologies that should enhance transformation and deliver superior military capabilities."

James Engle, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force, said the department's commitment to science and technology has risen over the years and needs to continue to do so to prevent technological stagnation.

"Future warfighting capabilities will be greatly determined by today's investment in science and technology," he said.

Tony Tether, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), addressed concerns about some of the more controversial programs under his jurisdiction, including Total Information Awareness.

"No American's privacy has changed in any way as a result of DARPA's information awareness programs, including TIA," he said. "The Department of Defense is not developing technology so it can maintain dossiers on every American citizen.

"Instead, the TIA program is designed as an experimental, multiagency prototype network that participating agencies can use to better share, analyze, understand and make decisions based on whatever data to which they currently have legal access."

DOD has stated a goal of 3 percent of its budget going to science and technology. Although none of the services would reach that with the amount requested for fiscal 2004, each of those testifying said they are moving closer each year.

"We have reached 2.69 percent of the overall budget going to science and technology," Sega said. "That is a sizable amount, but still short of the 3 percent goal."

The DOD request for science and technology in fiscal 2004 is $10.23 billion.


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