WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 17, 2013) — The Army says investments in science and technology are critical for advances that protect Soldiers, address the threats of today and prepare the service for the challenges of the future.
“I’ve seen firsthand the value and impact that technology brings to the battlefield and how capabilities enabled by technology are critical to our Soldiers and their success,” said Mary Miller, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.
Miller testified April 16, 2013, on Capitol Hill, before the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on intelligence, emerging threats and capabilities, regarding the Army’s science and technology, or S&T, program for fiscal year 2014.
“The Army depends on the [science and technology] enterprise to research, develop, and demonstrate high-payoff technology solutions for hard problems faced by Soldiers in ever-changing, complex environments,” she said. “Uncertainty and complexity are at the heart of the Army’s challenges.
“The Army of the future requires solutions that are both affordable and versatile,” she said. “It relies on the S&T community’s contributions to ensure that they remain the most capable in the world.”
Miller said advancements in science and technology allow for the development of safer vehicles for Soldiers, better body armor, lighter equipment, and cutting-edge technology and assets for increased capabilities. She said advances can also lead to more effective ways to treat Soldiers with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Under the current fiscal constraints, she said, it is critical the Army uses finite government resources to maximize development of technologies to meet Army-unique challenges and complement what the private sector is already developing.
“Most importantly, our investments today must translate into capabilities we successfully field to the Army of the future,” she said.
Miller noted the importance of recruiting, developing and keeping the best men and women in the areas of science and technology.
“Investments in S&T are a critical hedge in acquiring technological superiority with revolutionary and paradigm-shifting technologies,” she said. “This includes the development of the next generation of Army scientists and engineers. Investing wisely in people with innovative ideas is our best hope for new discoveries to enable the Army of the future.”
Miller acknowledged the current fiscal climate is affecting the Army’s ability to do so.
“Sequestration impacts not only our ability to maintain this important investment in technology but also our ability to recruit and retain the scientist and engineering workforce,” she said.
“Given the current budget environment and prospects for funding in the future, it has become even more important than ever that we clearly understand our current capabilities and what we need to address ever-evolving threats,” Miller said.
She also stressed the importance of anticipating and preparing for future threats. The Army is looking three decades ahead to better evolve and adapt, she said.
“This 30-year look requires us to think beyond the easy answers of just doing what we are doing now, but for a bit longer,” she said. “It forces a new look at what else we might need to do.
“The world of 2040-2045 is clearly not going to look like the world today,” Miller said. “The threats we face and capabilities needed to address those threats may in fact look very different.”
It is through that perspective in which the Army can address key areas of stable investment and areas where it can begin to take risk, she said.
Miller also told lawmakers the Army is increasing efforts to assess vulnerabilities to anticipate threats at both the individual technology level and also at innovative systems levels. The Army’s fiscal year 2014 budget request for science and technology is $2.2 billion, a 0.2 percent decrease from the fiscal year 2013 request.