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DOD Official Describes How Capabilities Are Generated for Warfighters

Taking joint warfighting concepts and translating them into the capabilities that are needed for the future in a highly contested fight is a key focus, said Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, who spoke today on a panel at the Sea-Air-Space summit at National Harbor, Maryland. 

Research and engineering have been identifying critical physics-space modeling and simulation to enable red and blue teams to determine outcomes of conflict scenarios, Shyu said. The colors refer to teams fighting each other in a virtual environment. 

"What we're able to do is learn from that, and the next day, you can run that [simulation] again," she said. 

A woman appears to speak as she gestures with her hands.
Heidi Shyu
Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, speaks on a panel at the Sea-Air-Space Summit, at National Harbor, Md., April 5, 2023.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 230405-D-UB488-004

The next piece is rapid prototyping, she said. This activity is accomplished by experimentation in the laboratory, as well as exercising in a live environment to prove out the technology under development, she said. 

All of these activities are under the umbrella of the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which is "a collaboration between the military services, combatant commands, industry and coalition partners with the aim of discovering new and innovative warfighting capabilities," Shyu said. 

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"This is a sprint that we will be doing every six months," she said, referencing the activities she just described to generate new capabilities. 

Other important partners in this endeavor are acquisition and sustainment and the joint staff; the latter identifies and prioritizes critical capabilities needed for the warfighters, she said. 

Last is figuring out which pathway forward will be best for rapid transition of the capability for fielding, she said. 

Another focus, Shyu said, is on acquiring asymmetric capability. An example of asymmetric capability would be the use of inexpensive improvised explosive devices used to take out vehicles. 

"I'm looking for an asymmetric capability against advanced adversaries," she said.

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