• Support for high-risk operations by means 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.

  • Rapid deployment and employment of forces globally against responsive threats.

  • Global effects that can be delivered rapidly, anywhere.

Although not released until 2002, the Defense S&T report was completed only months before the tragic events of September 11, 2001. While the central assessments of the report 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, to homeland security. September 11 caused many new assessments to be undertaken, one of which was a study by the National Research Council (NRC)2 of the contributions science and technology might make to counterterrorism.

The aim of Making the Nation Safer was to help the federal government—and, more specifically, the Executive Office of the President—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 (1) a careful delineation of a framework for the application of science and technology to 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 working on Making the Nation Safer identified 14 “most important” technical initiatives. Each was either an immediate application of an existing technology or an urgent research opportunity:

  • Immediate applications of existing technologies

    • Develop and utilize robust systems for the protection, control, and


NRC, Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism (Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2002). Hereinafter referred to as Making the Nation Safer.


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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