Defense Department leaders agree the U.S. military must reinvigorate its technological edge. They just can’t agree on which technologies matter. Nor do they appear to be laying out arguments that would help the rest of the Pentagon, lawmakers, and industry understand which technologies will matter most in tomorrow’s wars, and therefore which should receive top priority in terms of effort and funding. In short, DOD needs a technology strategy.
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work made artificial intelligence and autonomy the centerpiece of his “Third Offset Strategy.” Current Defense Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has called hypersonics his top priority, with directed energy a close second. That would seem to be at odds with his boss, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who has declared AI his “number one.” Yet the past two years have seen Griffin issue formal guidance about 10 to 13 “priority” technologies, with AI, hypersonics, and nuclear modernization occupying the top spot, depending on the list. But they can’t all be number one, and conflicting guidance from senior DoD leaders isn’t helpful for establishing real priorities in defense spending.
Read the full article in Defense One.
More from CNAS
CommentaryInstitutional Roadblocks to the Defense Department’s Adoption of AI
Bureaucratic inertia, stemming in part from deep-rooted institutional and cultural resistance, has hampered DoD’s ability to rapidly develop, acquire, and deploy AI capabiliti...
By Megan Lamberth & Martijn Rasser
CommentaryA Council of Democracies Can Save Multilateralism
The world desperately needs a new institution that is both global in reach and unified in vision....
By Edward Fishman & Siddharth Mohandas
CommentaryThe US needs a new techno-democratic statecraft: Start with 5G
To effectively compete, the United States needs a new strategy and a comprehensive commitment to technological leadership....
By Martijn Rasser
CommentaryHow to Stop China From Imposing Its Values
The United States and its allies currently lack the ability to respond to the type of geo-economic threats that China is making....
By Anthony Vinci