Pentagon: Emerging Tech Strategy-Memo
February 21, 2022 at 1:05 PM
14 critical technology areas Spearheaded by Pentagon research and engineering Chief, the strategy will seek investments and concentrated efforts.
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon’s research and development enterprise has begun developing a “National Defense Science and Emerging Technology Strategy” aimed at 14 critical subject areas including hypersonic weapons, directed energy and quantum science.
“Successful competition requires imagining our military capability as an ever-evolving collective, not a static inventory of weapons in development or sustainment,” Heidi Shyu, the Pentagon research and engineering chief and senior civilian in charge, wrote in a February 1, 2023 memo.
“In many cases, effective competition benefits from sidestepping symmetric arms races and instead comes from the creative application of new concepts with emerging science and technology,” she continued.
The new strategy will be informed by the National Defense Strategy and will “strengthen [the US military’s] technological superiority amidst a global race for technological advantage,” according to the memo.
The memo lays out 14 technologies the Pentagon considers critical and places them into three broad categories. The first group is labeled as “seed areas of emerging opportunity” such as biotechnology, quantum science, future-generation wireless technology, and advanced materials.
The second category is “effective adoption areas,” or in other words, technology already available in the commercial sector. Those capabilities include artificial intelligence and autonomy, integrated network system-of-systems, microelectronics, space technology, renewable energy generation and storage, advanced computing, and software and human-machine interfaces.
The third subject area is characterized as “defense-specific areas” such as directed energy, hypersonic weapons, and integrated sensing and cyber.
The OUSD(R&E) will develop critical technologies, rapidly prototype them and conduct
Continuous improvements of joint experimentation on those technologies and deliver the necessary capabilities deemed by the Task Force on Strategic Options. Areas of consideration may include advanced undersea assets and operational concepts, new uses of space assets, development of new countermeasures for electronic warfare, hypersonic weapons, employment of cyber and other areas the Task Force deems appropriate. Supporting changes to the Pentagon’s “resource allocation processes and will pursue novel mechanisms and alternative pathways to rapidly field technologies.”
The memo does not get into specifics of what those reforms might include, but the military and lawmakers have spent countless hearings discussing acquisition reforms, established any number of unique methods of contracting such as other transaction authority and often declare the need for the services to acquire technology more quickly than it currently does.
The memo also does not set any timeline for the strategy, or the resulting changes, to take place.
DoD’s new cyber workforce strategy creates new AI, data-focused work roles
“This strategy utilizes four human capital pillars - Identification, Recruitment, Development and Retention - to identify and group cyber workforce challenges,” according to slides.
WEST 2023 — The Defense Department’s new cyber workforce strategy creates dozens of updated work roles, including new artificial intelligence and data-focused specializations, as part of a broader effort to recruit and retain “the most capable and dominant” workforce in the world by utilizing “four human capital pillars.”
The DoD chief information office has not yet released the 2023-2027 DoD Cyber Workforce Strategy on its website and a spokesperson for the office did not respond to an inquiry about its release, but slides posted on the AFCEA WEST 2023 conference agenda website outline what’s inside the strategy. Mark Gorak, Principal Director for Resources & Analysis in the CIO’s team, and Patrick Johnson, Director of the CIO’s Workforce Innovation Directorate, presented the slides at the AFCEA WEST conference on Wednesday.
The strategy is built around four broad goals: performing capability assessments and analysis processes to stay ahead of force needs; establishing an enterprise-wide talent management program; facilitating a cultural shift within the department; and developing partnerships “to enhance capability development, operational effectiveness, and career broadening experiences.”
“This strategy utilizes four human capital pillars – Identification, Recruitment, Development and Retention – to identify and group cyber workforce challenges,” according to slides. “The four pillars also serve as a catalyst for targeted workforce development goals, which aid the Department in achieving the mission and vision of this strategy.”
According to the slides, an accompanying updated DoD Cyber Workforce Framework (DCWF) will define “enterprise baseline standards using Work Roles, which offer greater fidelity than historical occupational structures (e.g. civilian occupational series, military occupational specialties).”
The DCWF includes 39 updated work roles to include cloud and DevSecOps as a new control systems “unique work role”, and 71 work roles that include artificial intelligence, data, and software engineering roles, the slides say.
In June last year, DoD Chief Information Officer John Sherman said he was working alongside Craig Martell, DoD’s Chief Digital and AI Officer (CDAO), to develop the strategy. In January, DoD Chief Information Officer said that the cyber workforce strategy wouldn’t be a long document, with an implementation plan that follows the strategy holding most of the detail.
“So I’m excited about this,” he said then. “It will be high-level to kind of put the marker down on this, and then an implementation plan that will follow some months later that will really get into the granular details of it.”
Along with the cyber workforce strategy, DoD apparently published another critical initiative: DoD Manual 8140.03, which, according to the agenda, “changes the way that we qualify our workforce.”
“DoD 8140.03 Qualification Program establishes a comprehensive approach for cyber workforce talent management”. “It establishes Enterprise baseline standards for qualification that directly support operational needs and workforce readiness.”
The program sets cyber workforce standards, according to slides, and includes four tenets: qualifications based on the DCWF work roles; knowledge verification; capability verification; and continuous professional development with a minimum of 20 hours of professional development each year for personnel.