As America’s strategic competitors strengthen their technological advantage, the United States must take steps to avoid losing its advantage, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering said.
Thursday on Capitol Hill, Heidi Shyu told House Armed Services Committee lawmakers what the Defense Department needs to do to maintain its technological edge. The first step, she said, is to establish a solid foundation for research and development within the department. The second, she said, is to change the way the DOD does business.
“Every solid structure must be built on a solid foundation to ensure that this country maintains its edge and fuels future technologies and capabilities,” Shyu told lawmakers. “We must engage in science and technology, especially in basic research.”
Shyu said the department must, among other things, redouble its efforts to attract top talent, must build a more robust and necessary infrastructure for R&D, must carry out joint experiments, and must collaborate better across the technology ecosystem.
“If we expect the department to attract the best and the brightest in the world, to produce cutting-edge technologies, we need to modernize our laboratories and our test ranges,” she said. “The future of the department depends on talented people, and we are committed to developing that talent.”
As part of that commitment, she said, the department has invested in a variety of workforce, education and research programs ranging from K-12 robotic systems to STEM scholarships and research. in social sciences.
The Department of Defense has always been a leader in R&D and still is. But now, in the United States, private sector R&D capacity — without DOD involvement — has exploded, Shyu said.
“As seen in Ukraine, new commercial technology, combined with conventional weapons, can change the nature of conflict,” she said. “The department’s processes, from programming to experimentation to collaboration, need to be updated to reflect today’s dynamic landscape and anticipate tomorrow’s needs.”
America’s private sector, Shyu said, is America’s competitive advantage.
“We need to focus on improving the way government and the private sector work together,” she said. “I am committed to working with you to ensure that the department can act as quickly as possible by engaging with the private sector and the entire innovation ecosystem, to rapidly move technology to future capabilities.”