DDR&E Asks SECDEF for Lots More S&T Money

Recognizing that the Pentagon’s science and technology investment “may be inadequate to meet the imposing security threats that challenge our Nation and may not be adequately robust to take advantage of key scientific and technological opportunities that offer breakthrough advantages to our warfighters,” John Young, the current Director of Defense Research and Engineering, has written a pretty remarkable memo to the Secretary of Defense asking for a substantial increase in funding. In his request, he singles out several “priority science and technology areas,” along with about $9.5 billion in suggested increases. IT R&D figures prominently in his “straw man” proposal:
Foundational Sciences (including computing sciences) — $300 – $500 M a year increase (he notes that DOD has been “coasting on the basic science investments of the last century” and writes what we’ve been saying for quite a while: “The DOD must dramatically re-energize and re-invigorate the nation’s foremost scientific minds, especially those in early and mid-career, to focus on discovery, innovation, and synthesis in the physical and analytical sciences most crucial to our Nation’s security.”)
Information Warfare — $100-200 M per year increase
Information Assurance – $100-200 M per year increase
Networking Technologies — $40-70 M per year increase
Organiziation, Fusion, and Mining Large Data Sets — $40-60M per year increase
Software Development Technology — $40-70M per year increase
Autonomous Operation of Networks of Unmanned Vehicles in Complex Environments — $100 M per year
Disparate Sensors, Communication and Spectrum Management — $500 M per year
The memo containing the complete list of priorities is available from InsideDefense.com (subscription required). Overall, Young is proposing about $9.5 billion in increases from FY09-FY13 that would get DOD S&T spending close to 3 percent of the agency’s budget (it’s at about 2.2 percent right now). While there’s no guarantee that the comptroller or the SecDef will give him anywhere close to that amount (though the current SecDef is perhaps more sympathetic to S&T than his predecessor), this sort of stage-setting from the DDR&E is pretty remarkable.
InsideDefense also has an article (sub. req’d) detailing the memo with some reaction from think-tanky-types, which is also worth reading if you’ve got a subscription.