mation,” briefing by John A. Graniero at the Information Systems Technology (IST) Technology Area Review and Assessment (TARA), Air Force Research Laboratory, Rome, New York, March 13-17, 2000.
On pages 31 and 32, the NRC report notes that commercial IS&T will not, no matter the size and strength of the investment, address all of the IS&T needs of DOD:
Leveraging commercial information technologies is difficult, however, because industry rapidly changes direction to meet rapidly changing customer demands and because the time to market must be as short as possible. Fierce competition dictates limited, short research and development cycles and near-term investment strategies. Very little funding is being invested in basic research, which is usually outsourced to academia.* Industry’s short-term needs cannot support the longer-range visions of the services. Although commercial technologies show promise in providing significant near-term capabilities, leveraging them could require much effort (and significant resources) to adopt, adapt, or reengineer them. … Another caveat about using commercial information systems is that they are becoming available to all nations and interest groups. If the services depend on commercial technologies for advancing the state of the art in their information systems, potential enemies may come close to achieving parity (or even asymmetrical superiority) with U.S. forces. … DOD needs to expand its basic research to explore the frontiers of science in search of new technological approaches for maintaining military superiority. … The committee believes that DOD should continue to explore the frontiers of science and that basic research has never been more important to DOD.
It is certainly desirable to use commercial technology wherever it fulfills Air Force needs, meaning when the Air Force requirements are in some sense close to those of the commercial sector. However, the Air Force, like all the services, has requirements that are not significant drivers in the commercial sector—requirements in security (e.g., being multilevel in many cases), in the complexity of its command and control systems, in the real-time requirements of some systems, and in the need for robustness and resilience in the face of broken network or communications links or of captured nodes.
That 2001 report ultimately reaches (p. 36) the following recommendation for Air Force IS&T research funding:
The committee believes that the Air Force should increase its science and technology (S&T) budget for information systems technology (IST). The basic research (6.1) program should support long-term air and space IST