Megan Eckstein, Defense Daily, Feb 10
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee pushed for more technology advancement in their focus areas after hearing from two National Defense Panel members on the panelists' investment priorities--highlighting the committee's near-unanimous sentiment that defense spending needs to be much higher than sequestration allows.
Eric Edelman, a panel member and former undersecretary of defense for policy, said in his opening statement that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asked the panel to take a close look at whether the Defense Department's 20-year research and acquisition plan would actually "produce the weapons that 20 years from now we'll be needing."
As the panel discussed how to invest now to set up the future force for success, several technology areas emerged as "areas that we felt had not been given sufficient attention by the department and need a further look in the future."
"I'll just tick them off: arms; intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance; space, because of our critical dependence on it; cyberspace; maintenance of air superiority; joint and coalition command and control, because of the partnerships we have and the fact that we may be fighting with other people; long-range strike; and electric and directed-energy weapons," Edelman said.
Fellow panelist and former undersecretary for policy Michele Flournoy in her opening statement praised the Pentagon's efforts to identify the right technologies to pursue but said there needed to be money behind these initiatives.
"Our technological edge has long been an advantage, but it is not a given. In a world in which technology is proliferating, much of cutting edge technology is commercial and off- the-shelf," she warned. "DoD has to have a smart and determined investment strategy to maintain its edge. I would personally applaud the Department's efforts like the offset strategy and Defense Innovation Initiative. But we've got to have the investment dollars to pursue those initiatives."