DoD Seeks Next
DoD Seeks Next-generation
Technologies, Kendall Says
By Claudette Roulo, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – October 7, 2014 – The Defense Department is starting a long-range
research and development initiative intended specifically to deliver
technologies capable of providing the next generation of dominance on the
battlefield, the undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and
logistics said today.
The study is modeled after a similar one conducted in the
1970s that ultimately led to many of the technologies being used today, Frank
Kendall told an audience at the International Test and Evaluation Symposium in
Crystal City, Virginia.
“It's time to kind of rethink what's going to give us
dominance in the future,” he said, adding that he expects the program will
inform next year’s budget cycle.
Individual technology programs have had a strategic emphasis
over the years, Kendall said, but it’s time to have that same emphasis at the
DoD level. “We need to think about what's going to give us the next generation
of dominance on the battlefield and make sure we're focused on the things that
have that potential,” he said.
The undersecretary noted the initiative will be overseen by
the department’s best technical minds, including Stephen Welby, deputy assistant
secretary of defense for systems engineering; Alan Shaffer, principal deputy to
the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering; Dr. Arati
Prabhakar, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and
Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition.
A revolution in military affairs
The 1970s study did a thorough job, Kendall said, noting that
it yielded the idea for smart munitions and smart seekers for missile defense
“With one or two exceptions, the technologies that were
identified as the ones we should be focusing on were pursued and were pursued
successfully,” he added. “It did the same thing, basically, in communications
and in [the] electronic warfare side of communications in terms of protecting
data links and so on.”
Kendall credited the initiative with “sowing the seeds” for
today’s capabilities and revolutionized the efficiency of battlefield
performance -- meaning fewer troops were needed to meet particular objectives.
This new efficiency was demonstrated dramatically in the
first Gulf War, he said.
“We had a suite of things that included stealth -- and even
the classified version of this study doesn't talk about stealth, because at the
time, it was completely under wraps -- but smart munitions, wide-area sensors,
networking and stealth combined are … the revolution that we unleashed on the
world in the first Gulf War,” Kendall said.
The world was watching
Other countries took note of the effect technology had on the
battlefields of Kuwait, he said.
“We were expected to have about 10,000 casualties in the
first Gulf War and we had a few hundred. … We demonstrated the ability to take
out a relatively modern conventional force very, very efficiently, very, very
quickly,” Kendall said. “Nobody watched that more than the Chinese.”
Russia was watching, too, the undersecretary noted. A lot of
theories were generated about what the quick victory and the successful
employment of the new technologies portended, he said.
“We have ridden that set of capabilities ever since,” Kendall
said. “We used it in Serbia, very effectively. We used it when we went into
Afghanistan, went into Iraq, used it in Libya, we're using it right now. But a
lot of time has gone by since 1991, and people have had a chance to respond.
They've also had a chance to build similar capabilities.”
Nations are building smarter weapons, the undersecretary said,
and those weapons are proliferating around the world.
“Nobody has a monopoly on technology,” Kendall said. “It
never stands still. And once you've seen that someone else has solved the
problem and knows how to do something, it's not hard for you to do the same
thing as well.”
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)
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