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DOD Looks at U.S.-South Korea Technology Collaboration

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The partnership between the United States and South Korea has grown for more than 70 years now and continues to strengthen every year. 

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An Atom
A graphic shows a stylized version of an atom
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 210202-O-D0439-003

One area that the Defense Department emphasizes is in technology development between the two nations, said David A. Honey, deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. 

President Joe Biden recently visited with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to discuss, among other things, efforts to broaden cooperation on technologies, such as semiconductors, batteries, civil nuclear power, space development and cyberspace. 

"Fully recognizing that [the] scientists, researchers and engineers of [their] countries are among the most innovative in the world, both presidents agreed to leverage this comparative advantage to enhance public and private cooperation to protect and promote critical and emerging technologies, including leading-edge semiconductors, eco-friendly EV [electric vehicle] batteries, artificial intelligence, quantum technology, biotechnology, bio-manufacturing and autonomous robots," said Honey during a keynote address today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

Honey said DOD officials have identified five, key technology areas the department aims to develop further in partnership with South Korea. All, he said, have an impact on global supply chain security, and first among those is artificial intelligence. 

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Air Force airmen from the 86th Communications Squadron look up at an antenna at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Sep. 3, 2021.
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"As AI, machine learning and autonomous operations continue to mature, the DOD will focus on evidence-based AI assurance and enabling operational effectiveness," he said. 

In communications, 5G technology and the next generation of communications technology are also critical to the department, he said. 

"As fifth generation wireless technology is adopted and provides building blocks for capability, the DOD will also look forward to future G [generations] for leap-ahead technologies to lead in creating future standards," Honey said. "The department will invest in future G technology development to lay the groundwork for continued United States leadership in information technology, which is vital to maintaining our economic and national security." 

Quantum computing, Honey said, can provide DOD with computational speeds that are unprecedented and will allow the department to solve some of its most difficult analytical problems. 

"Quantum sensors promise the ability to provide unprecedented accuracy in position, navigation and timing," he said. "Our near-term technology focus is on advanced atomic clocks and quantum sensors to improve navigation and timing reliability beyond GPS and improve our access to the spectrum." 

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Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is one of the key areas of technology development the Defense Department hopes to further through cooperation with South Korea.
Photo By: Courtney Maxson, Army
VIRIN: 201005-A-D0439-003

Further investments in biotechnology, Honey said, can help with everything from fighting global pandemics to reducing logistics and sustainment costs and increasing energy efficiency. 

"Biotechnology can help change the way the department conducts missions, performs in contested logistics environments, and adapts to major global changes," he said. "Biotechnology innovation is largely through global collaborations. DOD partnerships domestically and internationally de-risk and accelerate the transition of research to operational demonstrations and capabilities." 

Finally, he said, renewable energy generation and storage are critical to DOD's future operations. 

"Renewable energy generation and storage promises to decrease warfighter vulnerability and deliver new operational capabilities for the department," he said. "From more efficient batteries to diversifying energy sources and reduced fuel transportation risks, renewable energy generation and storage will add resilience and flexibility in a contested logistics environment." 

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