DOD engineer urges competition to advance technology
With technology doubling in advancement roughly every decade, the Defense Department needs to ensure capable and flexible weapons systems to meet future challenges, a Pentagon official said Nov.12.
“ The military, while leaner, needs to be more agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced,” Stephen Welby, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for systems engineering told the Defense Daily’s Open Architecture Summit.
Open systems and standard based components, Welby explained, will enable the department to address obsolescence.
“We should be thinking about open architecture as the means to produce new capabilities and to address agility against emerging threats and … to expand and fill in the gaps.”
But, Welby added, if the government wants competition then it must plan for it. “The government needs to share the data that allows the players to come to the table smart.”
Building capacity to be more flexible in the face of an uncertain future also requires thinking about alternative futures, particularly affordability and its span of options, Welby noted.
As such, the science and technology base of each service now includes engineering resilient systems as a full-fledged topic of research and development, he said.
“It’s a key way to shape across future systems,” Welby said. “Those tools … really enable us to think differently, to think about how we shape designs and deal with threats.”
The deputy assistant secretary also acknowledged that many don’t recognize DOD’s most vital resource, as the single largest engineering organization in the world.
Today, the department employs more than 99,000 uniformed and civilian engineering professionals with about 35,000 in construction trades, he added, emphasizing the right capacity of people is critical to the department’s better buying power goals.
“Today we’re making a lot of hard choices in terms of cost,” Welby said. “We may find ourselves wanting to produce [certain] technologies and systems and we’d like to make sure we don’t have buyer’s remorse as we go forward.”