The goal of the CBDP is to put effective tools in the hands of end users to minimize risk from chemical and biological threats. As described in Chapters 2 and 4, there are four identified missions for the CBDP, and the end users may differ between them. The warfighters and those who support them are critical, but, for example, civil defense authorities and personnel may need to be considered in some cases. In the current programmatic structure, CBD priorities are identified by those with operational knowledge, and products to address those priorities are developed by those with science and engineering expertise. Between these two levels, the S&T efforts required to develop the identified tools are recognized and broken into projects, which are then pursued by individuals or small teams, and the connection to the operational context is often lost until late-stage T&E. In the committee’s view, this distance between the R&D performers and the end users represents a lost opportunity to allow for multidisciplinary (and multiperspective) consideration of the challenges of CBD in a field or combat situation. In discussion with the committee, R&D performers who had contact with the warfighters directly, whether as a result of collaboration on specific projects (often noted in connection with USSOCOM) or in the pursuit of operationally relevant data in support of development of models, noted great value from interactions with operators. Other individuals in the basic research realm noted that understanding more fully the context in which their work would be used could assist in the development of operationally relevant projects and help identify overlooked variables or factors in their work. Strengthening the relationship between the warfighter and the R&D performers could support the development of specific capabilities by creating opportunities for innovation by allowing for informed “blue sky thinking” between the two groups.
The committee noted that laboratory personnel from some facilities have relationships with warfighters as a strong component of their research and development programs. We suggest that the CBDP survey the facilities to identify where positive relationships exist, between Special Forces or the Services broadly, and seek to replicate such interactions. At the program management level, it may be difficult to encourage the strengthening of such relationships unless and until a capabilities-based approach is adopted as it may be challenging to see how providing R&D performers with greater operational context can be relevant to meeting specific requirements.