H
Defining 21st Century Defense Needs

In the summer of 2001, DOD’s Defense Science Board (DSB) was asked to recommend how the department’s S&T investment should be spent, how much should be invested, and how the military could realize the most value from this investment. The DSB report1 said that new threats, new adversaries, emerging disruptive technologies, and the speed with which knowledge spreads and technology is applied are among the new challenges to which DOD must respond. The DSB assessed defense and military needs and synthesized nine high-priority military areas:

  • Biological warfare defense for immediate detection and defeat.

  • Capability to find and correctly identify difficult targets, both static and mobile.

  • Support of high-risk operations with systems such as unmanned systems capable of high-risk tactical operations.

  • Missile defense that is cost effective and exhibits low leakage against tactical and strategic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

  • Affordable precision munitions that are resilient to countermeasures.

  • Enhanced human performance that overcomes natural limitations on cognitive ability and endurance.

1  

Defense Science Board, Defense Science and Technology (2002). Available at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/sandt.pdf.



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Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy H Defining 21st Century Defense Needs In the summer of 2001, DOD’s Defense Science Board (DSB) was asked to recommend how the department’s S&T investment should be spent, how much should be invested, and how the military could realize the most value from this investment. The DSB report1 said that new threats, new adversaries, emerging disruptive technologies, and the speed with which knowledge spreads and technology is applied are among the new challenges to which DOD must respond. The DSB assessed defense and military needs and synthesized nine high-priority military areas: Biological warfare defense for immediate detection and defeat. Capability to find and correctly identify difficult targets, both static and mobile. Support of high-risk operations with systems such as unmanned systems capable of high-risk tactical operations. Missile defense that is cost effective and exhibits low leakage against tactical and strategic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Affordable precision munitions that are resilient to countermeasures. Enhanced human performance that overcomes natural limitations on cognitive ability and endurance. 1   Defense Science Board, Defense Science and Technology (2002). Available at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/sandt.pdf.

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Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy Rapid deployment and employment of forces globally against responsive threats. Global effects that can be delivered rapidly, anywhere. The DSB panel recommended that DOD focus its investment in these nine areas either because they will optimize the payoff or because they are associated with high-risk threats. Although released in 2002, the DSB report was completed only months before the tragic events of September 11, 2001. While the central assessments of the DSB remain valid, there is no doubt that after those events there was a dramatic refocusing of the nation’s attention to national security and, most importantly, homeland security. September 11 caused many new assessments to be undertaken, one of which was a study by the National Research Council of the contributions science and technology might make to counterterrorism.2 The aim of the study was to help the federal government—and, more specifically, the Executive Office of the President—to enlist the nation’s and the world’s scientific and technical community in a timely response to the threat of catastrophic terrorism. The terms of reference for the study called for the preparation of (1) a carefully delineated framework for the application of science and technology for countering terrorism, (2) the preparation of research agendas in nine key areas,3 and (3) the examination of a series of crosscutting issues. Overall, the authoring committee aimed to identify scientific and technological means by which the nation might reduce its vulnerabilities to catastrophic terrorist acts and mitigate the consequences of such acts when they occur. The eight panels of preeminent scientists, engineers, and physicians identified 14 “most important technical initiatives”: Immediate applications of existing technologies Develop and utilize robust systems for protection, control, and accounting of nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials at their sources. Ensure production and distribution of known treatments and preventatives for pathogens. 2   Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism, Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press (2002). 3   Biological sciences; chemical sciences; nuclear and radiological sciences; information technology and telecommunications; transportation; energy facilities; cities and fixed infrastructure; behavioral, social, and institutional issues; and systems analysis and systems engineering.

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Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy Design, test, and install coherent, layered security systems for all transportation modes, particularly shipping containers and vehicles that contain large quantities of toxic or flammable materials. Protect energy distribution services by improving security for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and providing physical protection for key elements of the electric-power grid. Reduce the vulnerability and improve the effectiveness of air filtration in ventilation systems. Deploy known technologies and standards for allowing emergency responders to reliably communicate with each other. Ensure that trusted spokespersons will be able to inform the public promptly and with technical authority whenever the technical aspects of an emergency are dominant in the public’s concerns. Urgent research opportunities Develop effective treatments and preventatives for known pathogens for which current responses are unavailable and for potential emerging pathogens. Develop, test, and implement an intelligent, adaptive electric-power grid. Advance the practical utility of data fusion and data mining for intelligence analysis, and enhance information security against cyber attacks. Develop new and better technologies (e.g., protective gear, sensors, communications) for emergency responders. Advance engineering design technologies and fire-rating standards for blast- and fire-resistant buildings. Develop sensor and surveillance systems (for a wide range of targets) that create useful information for emergency officials and decision makers. Develop new methods and standards for filtering air against both chemicals and pathogens as well as better methods and standards for decontamination. Materials research will play a role in most if not all of the 9 high priorities identified by the Defense Science Board and the 14 initiatives identified by the National Research Council study on countering terrorism. It is clear, therefore, that progress in materials research in the United States and abroad will affect the nation’s ability to defend itself against emerging threats in the 21st century. Another report from the National Research Council considered the narrower topic of contributions materials research could make to meet 21st century military needs. DOD asked the National Research Council to conduct a study that would identify and prioritize critical needs for materials and processing R&D to meet 21st century defense needs. The resulting study, released in 2003, identified those

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Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy needs and explored the revolutionary defense capabilities that could result from R&D in five classes of materials:4 Structural and multifunctional materials, Energy and power materials, Electronic and photonic materials, Functional organic and hybrid materials, and Bioderived and bioinspired materials. In considering the opportunities in these materials subclasses, the study identified the following core tasks for the U.S. military: Projecting long-distance military power; Maintaining capability to fight far away; Coping with the eroding overseas base structure; Safeguarding the homeland; and Adjusting to major changes in warfare, including joint-service operations, coalition peacekeeping, and an increased number of humanitarian missions. Furthermore, the study concluded that the following trends in warfare could be expected to continue: The need will increase for a precision strike force that can maneuver rapidly and effectively and can survive an attack while far away. The force must be able to conceal its activities from an enemy while detecting enemy activities. Advances in information technology will increase coordination among forces. Global awareness through real-time networked sensors and communications will facilitate command and control and enable precision strikes. Using unmanned vehicles, information will be gathered in new ways, military power will be delivered remotely, and the risk of casualties will be reduced. Fighting in urban areas will increase, requiring entirely different strategies and equipment. Guerilla warfare will require new strategies and weapons. 4   National Research Council, Materials Research to Meet 21st Century Defense Needs, Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press (2003).

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Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy The study concluded that DOD needs various types of functionality, alone and in combination, for its military systems. R&D in materials and processes will be required to improve existing materials and achieve breakthroughs in new materials and combinations. Examples of the types of materials needed are as follows: Lightweight materials that provide equivalent functionality, Materials that enhance protection and survivability, Stealth materials, Electronic and photonic materials for high-speed communications, Sensor and actuator materials, High-energy-density materials, and Materials that improve propulsion technology. The drivers of these needs are multiple. Everything from tanks and ships to the equipment worn and carried by a warfighter needs to get lighter without losing functionality. Materials are needed to protect and hide equipment and personnel. The military in the 21st century will need to communicate faster, more reliably, and on a global scale. New threats require new materials for their detection. New tasks will require new weapons and new materials to enable new and better delivery platforms. The new systems of the 21st century military will also need to demonstrate multifuctionality; self-diagnosis and self-healing; low cost and low maintenance; environmental acceptability; and high reliability. The report also concludes that successful research on broad classes of materials and processes will need to be accompanied by the consideration of engineering issues—for example, a new material or process that seems promising in the laboratory would be useless if it could not be manufactured. In addition, the introduction of a new material into a system is more likely to be successful if the new material is integrated into the system or component design effort as early as possible. Finally, end-of-system-life issues must be considered—for instance, recycling or reuse of as much of the system as possible and environmentally conscious disposal of the rest. More details of this needs-based analysis can be found in the full report, including subpanel reports on the five classes of materials. The report concludes as follows: Future defense systems could employ advanced materials that are self-healing, can interact independently with the local environment, and can monitor the health of a structure or component during operation. Advanced materials could act as a host for evolving technologies, such as embedded sensors and integrated antennas. Advanced materials must also deliver traditional high performance in structures; protect against corrosion, fouling, erosion, and fire; control fractures; and serve as fuels, lubricants, and hydraulic fluids. The next 20 years will present the materials community with daunting challenges and opportunities. Requirements for material

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Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy producibility, low cost, and ready availability will be much more demanding than they are today. On the other hand, spurred by the accelerated pace of advances in electronics and computation, the performance, life span, and maintainability of materials will be greatly enhanced. Some of the advances will result from R&D undertaken by commercial enterprises for competitive advantage in areas like telecommunications and computation. In other areas, however, DOD may have to bear the funding burden directly. In these special areas, considerable funding will be necessary not only to identify critical new materials, but also to accelerate their progress through development to applications in the defense systems of the future.

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