The US Department of Defense (DoD) has released its strategic objectives in the sceince and technology sector as the military mobilises to meet the “pacing challenge of China” over the next decade.
The National Defense, Science and Technology Strategy (NDSTS) was announced on 9 May 2023, it articulates the science and technology priorities, goals, and investments of the Department and makes recommendations on the future of the defense research and engineering enterprise.
DoD Chief Technology Officer Heidi Shyu stated: “To achieve the objectives of the NDSTS we must leverage critical emerging technologies. This Strategy helps us make carefully crafted decisions that bolster our comparative advantages rather than engaging in wasteful technology races.
“We will emphasise developing asymmetric capabilities that will help ensure our national security over the long term.”
The strategy encompasses an array of policies including “fostering a vibrant defence innovation ecosystem”, “communicating effectively inside and outside the department”, as well as efforts to “recruit, retain and cultivate talent” and “revitalising our physical infrastructure” among others.
The DoD has already changed the structure of its defense innovation unit with a new director and reports directly to the Secretary of Defense. The structural realignment will enable the unit to work more effectively with recurring reviews of commercial solutions driving military innovation.
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Investment in the US defence industrial base has grown since the 2024 fiscal year budget, published in March. The DoD has delivered a range of contracts designed to reinvigorate its domestic supply chains and industrial facilities.
The department has made efforts to stengthen its hypersonics supply chain, a critical emerging area of military technology. Similarly, numerous contracts have been awarded to strengthen domestic industry to expand an modernise their capabilities and workforce, such as the $215m contract to support the Aerojet Rocketdyne by building additional facilities, purchasing advanced equipment and automate manufacturing processes to support increased production demand.
“Wasteful technology race”
However, the US only seeks to increase the capacity at which its military-industrial complex churns out the latest and most sophisticated products and platforms for the US military and its allies. There is continual scrutiny over the ability to sustain these efforts.
Moreover, it has been argued by some that there are other methods of meeting the challenge of China and the industrial sustainment that is to be expected during the next decade.
One key factor of the competition with China is how the US co-operates with its allies and partners. America’s equipment delivery pace is a key method for competition, according to senator Jack Reed in Centre for New American Security panel discussion.