Navy’s S&T strategy: Lean on technology

The asymmetric aspects of information age have put pressure on the Defense Department to preserve its advantage as rapid technology development enables others to proliferate much more quickly. The key to maintaining that edge is investing wisely in technology, Navy officials said while outlining their Science and Technology strategy this week at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo.

The Navy’s stated vision for S&T is “cutting-edge scientific research and technology [that] provides decisive technological advantage and influence for our naval forces.” The metrics used to achieve this vision include exploiting basic research to develop new capabilities, develop and transition S&T to enhance prior programs and capabilities, promptly respond to critical needs, anticipate and counter threats and parry uncertainty through affordable risk mitigation methods.

On the S&T strategy front, the Navy wants to “discover, develop and deliver decisive naval capabilities near-to-long-term, by investing in a balanced portfolio of breakthrough scientific research, innovative technology and talented people.” A breakdown of the service’s investment portfolio: 8 percent of its budget will go toward quick reaction and other S&T development, which is slated for the next one to two years ; the next two to four years will focus on technology maturation, at 30 percent of the budget; leap-ahead innovations will be the focus in the next four to eight years ,at 12 percent of the budget; and in the next five to 20 years, discover and invention will be examined, taking up 45 percent of the budget.

In addition, the Navy is relying on nine focus areas to help achieve its strategic goals, among them autonomy and unmanned systems, electromagnetic maneuver warfare, expeditionary and irregular warfare, information dominance in the cyber realm, power projection and integrated defense and warfighter performance. According to Rear Adm. Mathias W. Winter, chief of naval research, the Navy must be judicious with its funding. Speaking to a packed crowd at the expo, Winter said that if the Navy is going to get the best bang for the buck in those focus areas they will need help from the science and technology community.

Highlights of various capabilities sought from the focus areas include greater situational awareness; exploitation of social media as both a defensive and offensive tool; early detection of threats known and unknown; integrated, layered defense across the entire detect-to-engage continuum; hardened computer networks to protect from cyber threats; time-critical precision strike capabilities; bio-engineered systems for biologically intelligent sensors; improved warfighter health in the battlefield; and improved decision-making ability.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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