The Defense Department soon plans to release its National Defense Science and Technology Strategy, or NDSTS. But elements of that as yet unreleased strategy figured into the development of portions of the department's fiscal year 2024 budget request, said the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.
"We are implementing this strategy in the president’s FY 24 [fiscal year 2024] budget request, which continues historic levels of investment in research and development," said Heidi Shyu during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems on Thursday. "It prioritizes delivery of near-term capabilities at speed and scale; direct support to joint warfighting concepts; and building the science and technology foundation for tomorrow."
Shyu told lawmakers that, in facing the strategic challenges posed by China, she believes the American people should be confident of two things: First, the Defense Department understands the challenges it faces and the need to move with speed and determination to meet them; second, the U.S. currently has "an undeniable advantage over any potential adversary."
While China seeks to challenge the U.S. for superiority, it has not succeeded in that goal.
"Our task in my office and in and the broader innovation enterprise is to ensure that we maintain our enduring advantage," Shyu told lawmakers.
The National Defense Science and Technology Strategy, she said, lays out three lines of effort to help the department ensure the U.S. maintains its advantage. That includes:
- A focus on the joint mission.
- The creation and fielding of capabilities at speed and scale.
- The creation of an enduring advantage, which involves the cultivation of talent, the strengthening of infrastructure, the pursuit of basic research, and an increase in collaboration with U.S. partners and allies.
"We are implementing this strategy in the president’s FY 24 budget request, which continues historic levels of investment in research and development," she said. "It prioritizes delivery of near-term capabilities at speed and scale; direct support to joint warfighting concepts; and building the science and technology foundation for tomorrow."
Last year, Shyu identified 14 areas of technology the Department will emphasize. Those technologies include things such as biotechnology, trusted artificial intelligence and renewable energy generation and storage. Shyu said the FY 2024 budget makes investments in each of those technology areas.
New technologies mean nothing for the nation's defense, Shyu said, unless they can quickly be moved into the hands of warfighters. In submitted written testimony, Shyu said the department's efforts to accelerate critical capabilities into the hands of warfighters have resulted in directed energy systems being made available this year to both the Army and Navy. Also this year, she said, the department will launch hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensors.
To build an enduring advantage, Shyu said new university-affiliated research centers and programs — like the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART, scholarship program — strengthen America's science and engineering workforce.
"The budget supports workforce programs, such as the SMART Scholarship," she said. "[And] with congressional support, earlier this year, we announced our first University Affiliated Research Center at a historically Black university, at Howard University, and have included significant funding in the FY 24 request to do more with minority institutions."
Also a part of creating an enduring advantage, Shyu said, is closer collaboration with partners.
"Our strong collaboration with allies and partners will enable accelerated capability delivery and interoperability in the contested battlespace," she said. "Together, we will be far stronger."