ronments. The committee’s intent is that DREEs be established without expending basic research funds, which would only be used to support the involvement of basic researchers. Planning for such facilities should be coordinated with AFRL and the Air Combat Command and funded with 6.2 and 6.3 money.
Recommendation. The committee recommends that as AFOSR expands its investment in basic IS&T research, it work with its 6.2 and 6.3 partners to establish DREEs, which will not only speed the pace of research but also facilitate the transition of critical technology. The committee’s intent is that 6.1 money not be used to establish these DREEs; they would be set up by the technical directorates of AFRL or by operational arms of the Air Force, which would use them to exercise early prototypes of complex, software-intensive systems and provide feedback and guidance to the research community. Basic researchers supported by 6.1 funds would contribute to those exercises and extract lessons for further research.
The concepts proposed for experimentation can start small and later scale up to fully supported DREEs, as deemed appropriate to support experimental research. Therefore, the committee recommends that AFOSR start small but soon. In its next broad agency announcement that deals with IS&T research, AFOSR could request an optional task—namely, an experiment that the proposer would create, publish, and share with other research groups. AFOSR could also consider holding summer workshops on DREE topics for doctoral students. For instance, AFRL’s Human Effectiveness Directorate is interested in revolutionary approaches to DMT and would like a capability that is more like a free-play video game than the current tightly scripted scenarios. Students at a summer workshop could learn about Air Force needs in DMT, discuss and debate basic research issues that have to be resolved to advance the associated technology, and construct a DREE that they would take back to their respective universities for use in their research. In short, AFOSR, using only modest funding, could seed the development of a DREE and its associated community.
AFOSR should collaborate with other organizations to support the development and use of DREEs. For example, DOD’s High Performance Computing Modernization Office (HPCMO), through its Defense Research and Engineering Network, supports over 4,300 scientists and engineers at government laboratories, universities, and industrial research laboratories. HPCMO sponsors an annual call for “challenge problems” and invests up to 25 percent of its funding to solve these challenge problems. AFRL might consider leveraging its own funding with some of HPMCO’s “challenge problem” funding to create one or more DREEs focused on Air Force-specific IS&T needs.