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Science Program Celebrates 50 Years of Sharing

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2007 – The P-51 Mustang was just an average fighter until a British Merlin engine was placed in the American airframe. Then the plane dominated the skies over World War II Europe. This kind of exchange is at the heart of The Technical Cooperation Program now celebrating its 50th year of existence.

The program brings together experts from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to cooperate in defense science and technology applications.

“No country knows everything,” a senior program official speaking on background said recently. “Especially in this era of globalization, we have to understand that not every solution will be ‘made in America.’”

From its inception in 1957 as an agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom, the program has been limited to non-nuclear defense programs. Defense officials of each country share what they are working on and progress that is made. National authorities then can adjust research efforts to incorporate these advances.

The program allows countries to collaborate on research efforts, hold joint testing, avoid duplication, hold down costs, and increase interoperability among allied nations. It also provides a forum for nations to join with others for bilateral or multilateral research projects.

Representatives of the five nations are meeting here next week. “They look at the 11 groups where we have continued cooperation,” the senior program official said. The 11 groups are aerospace systems; chemical, biological and radiological defense; command, control, communications and information; electronic warfare systems; human resources and performance; joint systems and analysis; land systems; maritime systems; materials technology and processes; sensors; and conventional weapons technology.

Within the groups, scientists and researchers from the countries work together in action groups and technical panels. There are now 59 technical panels and 29 action groups, the official said.

The program was founded as the Soviet-launched Sputnik satellite circled overhead. The Soviet Union had nuclear weapons pointed at free nations and there was talk of a “missile gap” with the Soviets holding a solid lead.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan signed the Declaration of Common Purpose that brought the program into being. “The arrangements which the nations of the free world have made for collective defense and mutual help are based on the recognition that the concept of national self sufficiency is now out of date,” the declaration said. Canada joined the program in 1957, Australia in 1965, and New Zealand in 1969.

For a group founded as a response to the Cold War, it has proven remarkably flexible, officials said. “We know there are different threats facing all of us today,” the official said. “The program is concentrating on the threats we all must deal with.”

Today, combating terrorism -- another threat that calls for nations to stand together -- is the program’s prime mission.

Servicemembers see results of the some of the program’s projects immediately. Others are at more rarified levels. One collaboration between Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States is paying off on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Called the “small-volume hypertonic fluid resuscitation for hemorrhagic casualty care,” it is a fancy title for handling shock from blood loss. The research found that a “hypertonic” saline solution -- saline solution at least 10 percent stronger than normally used -- quickly restores blood pressure and reduces medical complications associated with shock. Medics in the field are switching to this solution.

Another project devised new methods of tracking the dispersion of chemical, biological or radiological agents in cities. Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States pooled scientific expertise to develop meteorological and dispersion databases to predict how these agents move about a city.

A third project looks at command and control in a coalition. Australia, Canada and the United States combined to build a distributed network operations center. The center allows allies to share information, intelligence and orders across the range of networks. The system melds tactical command-and control networks with national networks into a coalition network.

The program is as relevant today as it was in 1957, the senior official said. “Each nation must assist the other by sharing scientific resources,” he said. “Scientific progress made by one must be shared among all. It’s the only way forward in this new world.”

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