NEWPORT, R.I., September 5, 2014 —
With potential adversaries spending significant amounts to nose ahead of U.S. technology investments, Defense Department industry partnership remains critical, the Pentagon’s director of unmanned warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance said at the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance’s Defense Innovation Days conference here yesterday.
As the DoD fiscal year 2016 budget shapes up to be “less than planned for,” Dyke D. Weatherington said, the United States faces the challenge of spending money on current assets while keeping future investments robust.
“The U.S. enjoyed a significant … asymmetric capability over the last 10 years,” he told the audience of defense industry leaders. “There are folks trying to find an asymmetric capability against us, and they’re spending big bucks to get there, … so our challenge is to stay ahead of them, and that is going to be tough in a fiscally tight environment.”
While DoD historically tends to “hunker down and collapse back on core mission areas” to retain force structure, the need for innovation and creative ideas persists, he said. “This could be a great opportunity to force DOD to think outside the box, to move well beyond where we currently are today, but we can only do that with creative and innovative ideas,” he added.
Weatherington noted recent ISR capability procurement, such as Pointers, Hunters and Predators.
“All that capability has been procured, delivered and used by the warfighter since 9/11,” he said. “So I am absolutely convinced that industry can respond to DoD’s need for innovation and excellent ideas that put DoD where we need to be.”
The Defense Department will work to make the requirements, acquisition and budget process better suited for innovation, Weatherington said, noting that Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, has worked hard to make the system more flexible by making “sorely needed” changes.
“At every turn,” he added, “industry rose to the challenge and exceeded DoD’s expectations when we asked for help, and in many cases, they actually knew better than DoD did what we needed.”
By and large, Weatherington said, innovative companies putting their own ideas into programs and bringing those capabilities forward has helped to keep progress steady.
“DoD needs your help, and we need to partner with you at every level in that technology development process.”
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDoDNews)