An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Understanding Warfighter Demands, Emerging Solutions Gives U.S. Edge

The Pentagon's top research and engineering official said she remains laser focused on providing the warfighter with an asymmetric advantage in fielding future capabilities.  

A group of people are seated in a conference center.
Conference Attendees
Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, attends the National Defense Industrial Association's Emerging Technologies for Defense Conference in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2023.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders
VIRIN: 230828-D-XI929-1011Y

Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said Tuesday that the close coordination with each military service, the combatant commands and industry is critical in ensuring the military invests in the right technology to meet the demands of the battlefield.  

In addition to assessing the evolving threat landscape, she said she also analyzes what technologies DOD is investing in to determine where potential gaps exist. 

"There's multiple ways to close the gap," she said. "I'm looking for lower cost, asymmetric ways to close the gap. That's exactly what I'm focusing on." 

Soldiers test a drone in a field.
Drone Test
Soldiers with the Army’s he 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Corps Signal Brigade tested new drone technology to improve their line-of-sight communications using unmanned aircraft systems to further support XVIII Airborne Corps warfighters and their mission command systems.
Photo By: Army Spc. Maxine Baen
VIRIN: 220407-A-EL796-689Y

Shyu said understanding the convergence of the emerging threat and current technology is critical in maintaining a strategic advantage across domains and threat environments.  

To maintain that perspective, she said she's in constant contact with defense leaders and industry.  

For example, it's not uncommon for her to have breakfast in a sensitive compartmented information facility when she meets with Navy Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, during trips to the Indo-Pacific region, she said. 

Three service members work outdoors with a large piece of equipment.
Evacuation System
Marines and sailors assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force examine an autonomous casualty evacuation system during Technology Operational Experimental Exercise on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 4, 2022. The ACE system is an experimental technology that enables Marines and sailors to autonomously transport the injured to a higher echelon of care.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Eric Ramirez
VIRIN: 220804-M-BY673-1071Y

"We can talk about anything, classified things that are ongoing, so he knows what I'm working on," she said. "This type of dialogue is incredibly important." 

In order to match the demands from the warfighter with solutions from the private sector, Shyu said she hosts a series of recurring meetings industry partners—ranging from major prime contractors to small businesses—to broadcast defense department needs and survey industry solutions.  

Shyu said understanding the full picture is critical for maintaining U.S. advantage.  

A service member wearing high-tech protective gear aims a weapon.
Special Response
A member of the Army’s Special Response Team at Fort Belvoir, Va., conducts a sensitive site assessment mission wearing chemical and biological weapon protective gear known as a lightweight integrated thermal ensemble, or CB Lite, suit.
Photo By: Nate McDonald
VIRIN: 191218-A-AB123-001Y

"I look at the entire scope," she said.  

"I'm not going to horse race with you," she said of competing with potential adversaries. "Just because you've got 1,000 missiles, that doesn't mean I have to have 1,001. I look at the whole situation and whole landscape very differently."

Related Stories