needs to know how to use this collection of programs for effect across DOD; the challenge is not so much how to execute these various programs as how to use the results: that is, how might DOD best incorporate students into DOD laboratories and the industrial base? Lemnios observed that, in terms of numbers of graduates annually, the United States is losing 10 to 1 to China. He said that in the past month, ASD(R&E) has put in place a board of directors model for STEM, drawing its membership from across the military services and civilian ranks of DOD. He described three key areas for the board: First, what are the future needs of the department in technical depth, discipline, and numbers? Second, how do we fill those needs today? Third, how do we scale up academia in new areas, perhaps implying new departments?
In closing his remarks, Lemnios reviewed the five-point statement of task given the NRC committee and reemphasized the need to think about new and emerging disciplinary focuses and cross-disciplinary interactions.
Committee Co-Chair Norman Augustine asked Mr. Lemnios a two-part question: (1) With respect to microelectronics, he noted that some of the defense systems on which he had worked had taken 10 or 20 years to develop and deploy into the field. He asked whether this could not be shortened. (2) The co-chair also noted that the leading edge of R&D lies in the private sector, not DOD, where it had been in the past, and that moreover companies are evolving global research consortia. The latter, however, become ensnared in export controls that constrain anything that passes through the United States, and this has led companies to simply bypass this country. Augustine asked if it would not be possible to change the rules to accommodate this aspect of globalization in a DOD framework.
• In response to the first question, Lemnios replied that he agreed that no one is going to graduate from a first-rate school and choose to work in the defense industrial base if the person thinks that his or her first product will reach the market in 10 years. He offered an example of the iPod, which in the design phase had three requirements: 10,000 songs, three clicks, and fits in your pocket. Further, the iPod had to be ready in a year. This is the sort of problem that will attract the best and brightest. Lemnios suggested that there might be real benefit to shortening the DOD acquisition cycle if for no other reason than that it would increase the odds that project staff could see the result. Regarding Augustine’s second question, Lemnios responded that although he believed export controls to be outside his purview, he nonetheless recognized that regardless of the technology in question, many of the elements are available globally, and adduced as an example field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Few core technologies reside entirely inside the United States, placing a premium on systems engineering.
Committee member Leif Peterson asked where the Secretary of Defense stands on STEM issues. He also asked Lemnios to discuss the budgetary pressures due to the deficit crisis and asked whether the Secretary of Defense would still be interested in addressing the issue of the STEM workforce in an environment of greater competition for funding.
• Lemnios replied that STEM was part of the secretary’s confirmation testimony. Part of the department’s posture has been to have disciplines to execute ideas in a timely way. He noted that there are now pressures to reduce costs: DOD turns over every single rock, so to speak, to find the best value for the department.
A workshop participant noted that “best” is the enemy of the good, and this is why it takes 20 years, rather than 8, to field a new system, as procurement officers continually write new requirements.
• Lemnios noted that the fast-track acquisition addresses this, and he adduced as an example the mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle. He said that 1,000 MRAP vehicles are made per month, although these are not optimal and are in fact now being retrofitted. He noted that combatant commanders are asking him for the “80 percent solution,” and further, they tell DOD that they cannot wait for the 10-year solution. By contrast, however, Lemnios expressed the view that we must understand the risk and that much in question is addressed by good systems analysis.