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Technology Transfers Benefit Warfighter, First Responders

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2006 – The Defense Department’s technology transfer program, which shares newly developed DoD technologies with civilian first responders, benefits both communities in cost effectiveness and mission accomplishment, the DoD official in charge of the program said here today.

Congress mandated the technology transfer program in December 2002 as part of the 2003 Defense Authorization Act. However, the program has only been actively in development for about two years, Donald Lapham, manager of the program, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

DoD has a long history of transferring technology to support first responders, but this program ensures all the department’s capabilities are leveraged to provide as many options as possible to the civilian agencies, Lapham said.

“A lot of the equipment and technology that’s used by the warfighter also can be used by first responders,” Lapham said. “A lot of the equipment is similar to what law enforcement uses, and even what firefighters use.”

Under the technology transfer program, DoD works closely with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to determine the needs of the first responder community, Lapham said. DoD laboratories look at the technologies they are developing to identify those that might transfer well to first responders, and consider dual-use capabilities for future products, he said.

Due to recent events, there is a strong focus within DoD and the first responder community on developing compatible communications, Lapham said. DoD has been working on new communications systems, and these technologies will probably be the first to be transferred to civilian first responders, he said.

The technology transfer program will benefit both DoD and the first responder community in several ways, Lapham pointed out. DoD will benefit from being able to field new technologies with first responders for further testing and development, and both communities will benefit economically, he said.

“If first responders purchase and use the same type of equipment as the warfighter, this will eventually increase the quantity of products produced, and DoD will benefit from a lower cost, as will first responders,” he said.

The technology transfer program is still in the development phase, Lapham said, as many technologies take a long time to be fully researched and developed. Once the technologies are developed and transferred, civilian responders will benefit in an obvious way, by having more resources available to them, but troops fighting the war will also benefit from the collaborative environment the program will create between DoD and civilian laboratories, he said.

“I think that in the future it will benefit the warfighter because they will see technologies being developed and produced faster and reach them sooner,” he said.

Some of the technologies being developed under the transfer program are a blood-clotting system, a water purification pen, body armor, and robotic items that inspect vehicles and containers.

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