Tech

April 19, 2012

Top Army scientist: Army shouldn’t trim science, tech work force due to budget cuts

by C. Todd Lopez
Army News
Army Research Laboratory photograph
Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory conduct research on a variety of fronts. Here, a mannequin is positioned in one of the lab's auditory research environments. ARL personnel conduct an array of auditory research, including the effects of various types of headgear on sound detection and the identification and localization of acoustic signatures.

With budget problems weighing heavily on the minds of many, a senior Army official warned that a general shortage of skilled scientists and engineers should make the Army wary of cutting labs and the brightest of its researchers.

The Army’s science and technology sector should avoid “the tendency to employ ‘last in, first out’ mentalities should we need to reduce manpower,” said Marilyn M. Freeman, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology. She testified April 17, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

Freeman told lawmakers one of her top concerns is finding new talent, as well as retaining the best talent already in the Army’s research labs.

“People are the Army’s most valuable resources” Freeman said. Without their skill, “the Army R&D (research and development) enterprise would be in serious trouble.”

Direct Hire Authority, for people with advanced degrees; the Laboratory Personnel Demonstration Project; and the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program are all programs that have allowed the Army to bring aboard the best science, technology, engineering and mathematics-educated personnel, Freeman said.

Freeman also told senators of her concerns that Army research might be first on the chopping block in budget-cutting efforts. “We must guard against using S&T (science and technology) as a bill payer, and I am concerned that S&T will take a disproportionate share of personnel cuts, should we have to reduce manpower.”

One method Freeman said she wants more information on before it could be used to increase the number of scientists, engineers and researchers in the Army, is the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI program.

Under the MAVNI program, non-citizens with skills the Army needs, such as medical, cultural or language skills, are offered employment that leads to citizenship. The Army has used the program to hire foreign-language speakers to work in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance. Senators wanted to know if the program could be extended to hire those with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, skills.

The concept of making offers to people who are not citizens, but who want to be citizens, and who have skills the Army needs, is a “good and positive thing,” Freeman said. And she is supportive of the program.

But before expanding MAVNI to include hiring those with STEM skills, she said, “we need to study it a good bit more because I think there are second and third-order effects that we really need to think about.”

A better solution to finding skilled workers for Army labs that possess advanced degrees in STEM education involves encouraging more Americans to seek those degrees, she said.

“The real solution that we need to think about is to really get more U.S. citizens into our schools through STEM education and into getting the degrees and the advanced degrees in the fields we need them,” she said.

Lawmakers also asked about the status of Army research labs and facilities. Freeman said that a study was in progress to first count all those labs and facilities, and to then assess the condition of those facilitates and to identify what are the “worst things we have to take care of” and then look at other improvements that need to be made.

The survey, identifying all facilities that the Army owns, is complete, she said. By the end of October, she said, she’ll have the results from engineers on what needs to be done to improve those facilities.

Freeman told lawmakers that her vision for Army research and technology is to “invent, innovate, and demonstrate technology-enabled capabilities.” She said she hears from Soldiers that “technology saved their lives” and was critical to “their remarkable accomplishments.”

For that reason, she said, it is important for the Army to keep a strong Army laboratory system. The current S&T enterprise comprises 22 labs and centers spanning five commands, which are located throughout the United States. The labs and centers are home to roughly 19,000 federal civilian employees.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 25, 2014

News: VA reform bills stalled by partisan bickering - Plans for a comprehensive Veterans Affairs Department reform bill that appeared all but finished a month ago devolved into partisan bickering and funding fights July 24, casting doubt on the future of a deal.   Business: Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed announce bids on Danish fighter competition; Saab withdraws -...
 
 

News Briefs July 25, 2014

Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq U.S. Marine Corp officers are launching a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or later after returning to the United States. A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune said July 24 that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is being...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OíShea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
lm-kmax

Lockheed Martin’s unmanned cargo helicopter team returns from deployment

After lifting more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo and conducting thousands of delivery missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, the Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace Corporation K-MAX cargo unmanned aircraft system has returned ...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>