He said that one reason he enjoyed working for the DoD was “that you really have a mission. People’s lives are on the line, today and tomorrow, and our job is to try to have that appropriate balance of science and technology that will apply in the near term as well as the far term.” He listed some “revolutionary advances” made possible by science and technology research, including stealth aircraft, adaptive optics and lasers, night vision, global positioning systems, and phased array radar. Added to this list, he said, should be the development of human-computer interfaces and much of the information technology that was critical to advanced modern defensive capabilities. He added that the development of stealth technologies that began in the 1970s were outcomes of the Cold War realization that U.S. forces could not win wars based on numbers of troops, so it would have to rely on advanced technology to maintain superiority.
He said that the defense mission would continue to grow in complexity and described three perspectives of the future. All would depend on network-centric-enabled operation, given that “we would not know where the next threat would arise.” This would require networking and rapid mobility to better deal with uncertainties. Guidance would come from the White House to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
One perspective included four kinds of operations that would be necessary for the newly complex world of the future. These include Combat Operations, which is today a strength. Two others are Stability Operations and Homeland Security, which were still challenges. Finally, Strategic Deterrence would involve communicating the message to potential enemies that the Department would be able to respond to aggression.
A second perspective of the future includes eight functional concepts required to execute operations. These included battle-space awareness, force application, command and control, focused logistics, protection, net-centric operation, joint training, and force management. His mission in science and technology was to provide knowledge and tools to support those functional concepts.
The third perspective, somewhat more complex, involves “what we’ve got to worry about.” This list included not only about the traditional kinds of battles familiar today, but “irregular” battles that include unconventional methods adopted by non-state and state actors, terrorism, insurgency, civil war, and emerging concepts. This, he said, is the nature of every conflict today where is it not possible to draw clear lines between friend and foe.
Another challenge included “catastrophic” situations that included the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), a threat that is spreading throughout the world. Finally, he listed the challenge of trying to make sure that the United States is not surprised by “disruptive,” previously unknown technologies or new uses of existing technologies. This, for the DoD, he said, was a challenging spectrum which demands the most effective application of science and technology,