Getting a handle on the advanced technologies that will cause the rules of everything from urban warfare to gender roles is one of the most underappreciated, yet critical, challenges faced by the U.S. national security community. It’s even more daunting when consumer electronic product cycles are measured in months, or just over a year, while military systems development cycles are still measured in decades for the biggest efforts. There is a sense that something is out of phase, at precisely the wrong time.
He went on to say:
Pursuing questions about cutting-edge or “game changing” technologies inevitably leads to a pulse-racing conversation about getting farthest to the future first. That may not be the best approach, however. Pushing for the so-called gold plated solution isn’t viable anymore because of budget costs, and it’s not practical because technology development is far outpacing the development cycle of major Defense Department acquisition programs.
The answer may be to spend less, more often, rather than continue on a path of drawn-out development that can cause a fighter to take more than 10 years to develop while the cyber-weapons that could be used against it are evolving at a much faster tempo.
“We need to look at second-best solutions, throw-away capabilities knowing the world will be different 15 years from now,” said one attendee at the conference.
That would require a fundamental reframing of how government acquisition works, and that is indeed what might be necessary.
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