R&D Cuts Under Sequestration Worry DoD

R&D Cuts Under Sequestration Worry DoD

WASHINGTON — Military research and development, and the technological superiority it creates, will bear an outsized share of cuts if sequestration remains, US Defense Department officials told members of the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee Thursday.

After a decade spent focusing on counterinsurgency, the US’ technology edge is eroding, said Alan Shaffer, the DoD’s principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering. Opponents and potential adversaries, having seen how effective US technological superiority was in the first Gulf War, have spent the intervening years ramping up their military research, closing the gap with the US, he said.

If the budget caps set by 2011’s Budget Control Act, known as sequestration, are reinstated in FY 2016, they will hinder the military’s ability to develop the next generation of technologies, he said. Half of the DoD’s budget cuts would come from modernization efforts, “Undermining our efforts to secure future advantage,” he said.

The futuristic technologies mentioned varied from the very small, such as a Band-Aid-like sensor that can be attached to the skin to measure a pilot’s fatigue and cognition, to the Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, an underwater drone for shoreline missions.

Arati Prabhakar, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), said one goal is to achieve dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum, not just to enable military communications but to disrupt enemy capabilities.

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