Defense Science and Technology : Looking to the Future

The thing that has made DARPA unique is its people. Select truly outstanding people and give them freedom & resources to explore new directions. It has worked in the past. It will in the future.

Remarks By The Honorable Jacques S. Gansler, Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Technology), DARPA 40th Anniversary Symposium, Arlington, Virginia, April 6, 1998 — Source: DoD —

I am pleased to be here today to help the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency celebrate its 40th anniversary. Larry Lynn and I have been in the « military/industrial complex » (both government and industry) over 40 years, so we remember Sputnik One and our nation’s determined response to become the dominant nation in the conquest of Outer Space. We have succeeded in that effort, thanks to people like Larry. Larry will leave DARPA in May after a career that spans more than 45 years. We all wish him well and the nation owes him a great vote of appreciation for all that he has contributed to our nation’s past and future security.

As DARPA enters its 41st year, we find ourselves in a world that is light years away from the dawn of the Space Age. Technological advances made possible by your agency are a large part of the reason why. The challenge you — and we all in the Department of Defense — now face as we move into the 21st century is the need to respond to a growing and increasingly volatile threat from multiple aggressors. Our military strategy has, for years, relied on the likely Cold War scenarios posed by a single super power adversary. The enemy’s moves were fairly predictable; and many of DARPA’s long-range programs could be structured to meet the limited range of hostile activity we faced. Although we no longer face the threat posed by a global peer competitor like the former Soviet Union, we still live in a very dangerous world. It is a world marked by uncertainty and unpredictability; a world in which multiple possible aggressions pose a wide range of potential threats and hostile actions.

In order to meet these new threats, the U.S. military must maintain battlespace dominance. It must be prepared to conduct multiple, concurrent contingency operations worldwide. It must be able to do so in any environment; including one in which an adversary uses asymmetric means, such as nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons; information warfare and large quantities of low-cost cruise and ballistic missiles.

As Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, I have set five priorities for achieving total battlespace dominance:

  1. We must achieve an interoperable and integrated, secure, and « smart » command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) infrastructure that encompasses both strategic and tactical needs. Enhanced situation awareness and information assurance are the critical elements of an effective 21st century warfighting capability and the backbone of the Revolution in Military Affairs.
  2. We must develop and deploy — in sufficient quantities — long-range, all-weather, low-cost, precise, and « brilliant » weapons. This will allow us to achieve maximum fire power on fixed or mobile targets — from land, sea, or air — with minimum loss of life and to take full advantage of the C4ISR systems – which, for example, provide in-flight re-targeting updates to weapons launched from remote platforms.
  3. We must achieve rapid force projection and global reach of our military capability. With uncertainty over where our forces will be required, and the need for extremely rapid response to a crisis anywhere in the world, this capability — when combined with the first two elements — will provide us with overwhelming military superiority.
  4. We must develop and deploy credible deterrents and, if necessary, military defense against projected, less traditional early 21st century threats — biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons; urban combat; information warfare; and large numbers of low-cost ballistic and cruise missiles. These threats represent priority issues.
  5. We must achieve interoperability with our Allies — essential for coalition warfare. We must insure that their technologies compliment those of our forces. To accomplish our goal of information assurance, we must make certain that the C4ISR and advanced weapons we use are fully interoperable with theirs.

These five priorities form the building blocks of a strategy for maintaining our strength and building our security in the face of a new generation of threats. These priorities must become realities — and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency must play a key role in this realization.

DARPA’s role is to continue to provide leadership in advanced technology for military use — particularly in non-traditional areas. This, of course, has been the role that DARPA has so brilliantly performed over the past 40 years. But, for the future, three aspects need to be added:

While continuing to explore long-term qualitative leaps forward in military technology, DARPA must simultaneously lead the way in low cost, advanced technology. Affordability is just as great a technical challenge as performance. Orders of magnitude advances in cost reductions will be required. This requires great creativity. The Department of Defense must accomplish developments and deployments on much faster cycle times. Information systems cycle times are now measured in one to two year cycles; not 10 to 20 year cycles. And

We must learn to capture commercial technology (both product and process technologies) wherever applicable and apply that to defense-unique use. These are perhaps just variations on the requirements that DARPA has faced over the last 40 years. But they are critical if America is to maintain its technological leadership and national security strength over the coming 40 years.

Let me close by observing that the thing that has made DARPA unique over the past four decades is its people. Select truly outstanding people and give them the freedom and resources to explore new directions – that has been the « DARPA model ». It has worked in the past and I know it will in the future.

I wish you all the best of luck. I know that we can count on your continued brilliance and commitment. You serve a grateful nation.