Focused and balanced investments in science and technology programs across the services were at the center of discussions during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committees subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threat and Capabilities on Capitol Hill, March 26.
Dr. David Walker, Air Force deputy assistant secretary of science, technology and engineering, stressed the importance of maintaining technological superiority, while also ensuring the proper management of funding for new and more cost-effective programs.
Globalization and the proliferation of technology mean we face threats across a wide spectrum and competition across all domains, he said. The focused and balanced investments of the Air Force Fiscal Year 2015 [Science and Technology] program are hedges against the unpredictable future and provide pathways to a flexible, precise and lethal force at a relatively low cost in relation to the return on investment.
Technological advancement and sustainment efforts were highlighted by Alan Shaffer, assistant secretary of defense principle deputy for defense research and engineering. He noted some of the ways the DOD is creating technology surprise through innovative technologies and engineering.
The department invests in a structured way to create surprise, Shaffer said. Creation of surprise requires a robust basic research program coupled with a strong applied research. While it is not really possible to know where technology surprise will come from, there are several areas that highlight the possibility.
Walker emphasized the need for learning from the past, as well as focusing on the future, while addressing the highest priority needs of the Air Force across the near-, mid- and far-term. By building and growing game-changing and enabling technologies, he is confident the Air Forces science and technology (S&T) strategy is poised to ensure technological superiority across air, space and cyberspace.
This flexible strategy provides us the technological agility to adapt our S&T (space and technology) program to dynamic strategic, budgetary and technology environments, and will shape prioritized actionable S&T plans, he said.
Regardless of budget constraints, the commitment to supporting the warfighter and protecting this nation from any threat are top priorities, Walker said.
We recognize that fiscal challenges will not disappear tomorrow, and that is why we have continued to improve our processes to make better investment decisions and efficiently deliver capability to our war fighters.