. "6. Conclusions and Recommendations." Review of the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Infrastructure and Aerospace Engineering Disciplines to Meet the Needs of the Air Force and the Department of Defense. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Review of the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Infrastructure and Aerospace Engineering Disciplines to Meet the Needs of the Air Force and the Department of Defense
programs and may prejudice the Air Force’s long-term technology initiatives.
The committee recognizes that the Air Force major program budget is heavily affected by the political process. Nevertheless, the Air Force should decide upon, and then protect, the portion of the budget allocated for future technologies, which will determine the quality of its future warfighting capability.
Conclusion 1. In the process of refocusing its priorities and as a result of reorganizations predicated by the Goldwater-Nichols Act, the Air Force eliminated the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development and thus lost a strong advocate for science and technology. In addition, the Air Force Systems Command was combined with the Air Force Logistics Command to form the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC). Although this consolidation has streamlined AFMC’s processes for development, acquisition, and support of Air Force systems, it has also reduced the emphasis on technology in general and S&T in particular. Currently, the highest S&T-dedicated position in the Air Force is the two-star Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) commander position at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) near Dayton, Ohio, which is several levels below the Air Force Council. The AFRL commander reports directly to a general (four-star), the commander of AFMC, of which AFRL is a part. AFMC headquarters is also located at Wright-Patterson. The AFMC commander’s responsibilities are very broad, including the programs at four product centers, five air logistics centers, three test centers, and two major specialized centers, in addition to AFRL. The AFMC commander has too many other important and demanding responsibilities to focus on S&T and without an S&T advocate of sufficient stature and authority at the Air Staff level where budget decisions are made, support for S&T has declined substantially. Reinstating a senior voice for technology in shaping the future capability of the Air Force would help ensure that decisions affecting technical resources including S&T expenditures are fully considered by Air Force decision makers.
Goldwater-Nichols defines the relationship between the Secretary’s Office and the Chief’s Office on technical matters. The Secretary’s responsibilities are clear, but this should not mean the military does not have very strong concerns about and influence on the technical resources of the Air Force and does not have the need for oversight. The committee believes that the Air Force, both civilian and military, must pay more focused attention to its technical resources if it is to continue to get the best weaponry.
If Goldwater-Nichols or other constraints make a DCS position unworkable, the role and responsibility recommended could be assigned in other ways. The committee understands, for example, that the Navy has established a position for a two-star Director of Test & Evaluation and Technology Requirements (N091) who reports directly to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and has somewhat similar functions. He serves as the principal interface between the CNO and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition on RDT&E; Resource Sponsor for Navy S&T (6.1, 6.2, 6.3A) investments; Resource Sponsor for RDT&E field activities; and Appropriations Sponsor for CNO RDT&E, Navy (RDT&E,N) funding. In any event, the committee believes that high-level attention is needed to get the best result.
Recommendation 1. The Air Force should establish a deputy chief of staff, who is also a member of the Air Force Council, with primary responsibility for oversight of all Air Force scientific and technical resources. Among his duties, which should include all Air Force technical activities from concept development through completion of engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phases, this officer should be the advocate for funding science and technology requirements and for modifying and tracking the implementation of S&T requirements to minimize instabilities in S&T and R&D funding (including new production processes), to ensure that adequate funding is budgeted annually, and to resist attempts to raid S&T or R&D funds to meet short-term budget shortfalls in other areas.
The committee believes that whoever is assigned the responsibilities for oversight of Air Force technical resources should be able to act as a high-level advocate for the technical resources within the Air Staff and the department. This individual should be someone with an extensive scientific or technical education and background, yet who also has experience in the operational commands and can appreciate the critical needs of both sides of the house—warfighting and technical. The new DCS would maintain a awareness of the status of all aspects of the Air Force’s technical resources and would track the effects of current and proposed policies—concerning personnel, facilities, the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), education, and research activities—on the technical capabilities base. This person would then serve as an advocate on the Air Staff to ensure that the needs of the technical capabilities base at least get a fair and accurate hearing in the policy decisions of the Air Force.
The Air Force Technical Work Force
Despite the recent difficulties of attracting qualified people to government defense work, the committee believes the Air Force has marginally enough scientific, technical, and engineering personnel to carry out its current programs and, with the appropriate effort, should be able to attract enough people in the near future to develop and build the systems that are now planned. In fact, the Air Force, even with reduced S&T funding, has the resources to pursue many important programs on the leading edge of technology, providing it sets the right priorities and executes them efficiently. The problem is how to attract new talent in the face of growing commercial competition. This is a new challenge