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DOD Harnesses Science, Technology to Counter Adversaries

China is attempting to offer an alternative to the international world order, increasing its capacity to reshape international borders and rapidly developing capabilities in artificial intelligence, hypersonic weapons, shipbuilding and space capabilities, said Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. 

A civilian speaks into a microphone while standing behind a lectern on stage.
Shyu Remarks
Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, speaks at the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 31, 2024.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 240131-D-UB488-001A

Addressing these long-term challenges requires a robust and accelerated science, technology and development response by the Defense Department, with fewer bureaucratic processes that impede that goal, Shyu told attendees of the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit in Alexandria, Virginia. 

"Unfortunately, there's no monolithic solution to accelerate the department's effort in development and acquisition of leading-edge technologies," she said. 

A graphic depicts an atom.
Atom Photo
A graphic shows a stylized version of an atom.
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 210202-O-ZZ999-003M

Shyu said one of the many ways the department is approaching the effort is the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve program, established two years ago. 

She said the program aims to deliver the best technology and address common problems that are faced by companies through experimentation and exercises that accelerate technology from prototype to validated military capabilities, she said. Shyu noted that industry works directly with the services, combatant commanders and the joint staff. 

Three people look at a table displaying tech products.
Technology Demo
Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu attends a technology demonstration at the Pentagon, June 21, 2023.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. John Wright
VIRIN: 230621-D-KY598-1251

The program focuses on areas crucial to joint warfare in highly contested environments, including command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; unmanned systems; contested logistics; joint fires; information; and command and control, she said. 

The department is also assisting private-sector investment in critical technologies. The Office of Strategic Capital was stood up a year ago, as authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act, to allow the department to provide loans to small companies, she said. 

A man kneels next to an unmanned drone.
Preflight Checks
A autonomous drone specialist performs preflight procedures on an unmanned aerial system at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 26. 2023.
Photo By: Samuel King Jr., DOD
VIRIN: 231026-F-OC707-8001M

The Office of Strategic Capital will help secure the department's supply chain and facilitate onshore production of cutting-edge technologies, including microchips and quantum, she said. 

"I'm absolutely confident that our nation's R&D enterprise will continue to deliver the most advanced military capability to the warfighters," she said, referring to industry research and development professionals. 

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