OSD's Research and Engineering Office is Ready for Innovation
The office is seeking industry solutions for the Defense Department’s modernization priorities.
As the Defense Department’s acquisition and sustainment office works to improve the military’s contracting processes, the research and engineering component—newly separated from acquisition and sustainment in a major reorganization last year—is ready for industry advancements, said Doug Schroeder, DASD Space, Strategic and Intelligence Systems and deputy director, National Intelligence Division, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
In terms of bringing forth technologies and capabilities that align with the National Defense Strategy (NDS), the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (R&E) has funding available and is looking to the industry for innovative capabilities, he said.
Speaking at the Satellite 2019 conference in Washington, D.C., last week, Schroeder took the opportunity to remind the industry of the Defense Department's key modernization areas and encouraged submission of ideas and capabilities to R&E. Schroeder took over his role as an oversight executive within OSD’s Joint Capability Technology Demonstration office (JCTD) at the Pentagon a few months ago.
He stressed three lines of effort from the NDS, which have the Defense Department working to restore U.S. military readiness while building a more lethal force: strengthening alliances and attracting new partners; and bringing business reforms to the Department. This includes acquisition reforms, he said. “That line of effort has probably been the most profound,” he said. “We are working to acquire things faster, to get more lethal things in the hands of our warfighters faster.”
Schroeder confirmed that his boss, Michael Griffin, under secretary of defense for R&E, who has been in his position just over a year, “would decide what we buy.” Meanwhile, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord, who is spearheading the contracting reforms, would decide “how we acquire these things,” Schroeder clarified.
Schroeder outlined the Defense Department’s modernization areas:
- Fully networked command, control and communications;
- Space offense and defense;
- Cybersecurity offense and defense;
- Autonomy and unmanned systems;
- Hypersonics offense and defense;
- Directed energy, including high energy lasers and microwaves;
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence;
- Quantum science, including encryption and computing; and
"Under Mr. [James] Faist, the director of Defense R&E for Advanced Capabilities, and Dr. [Milan] Nikolich, the director of Defense R&E for Research and Technology, each one of those modernization areas has an assistant director," Schroeder explained. “Those are the people you need to impress with your great ideas,” he told the industry. “It’s not hard to get an idea before OSD. All you need is a quad chart and white paper.”
In particular, OSD’s prototyping and concept exploration (P&CE) programs are working to provide “game-changing” capabilities to the Joint warfighter. Here, Schroeder said, there are seven program elements including the following:
- Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD);
- Emerging Capabilities Technology Development (ECTD);
- Quick Reaction Special Projects (QRSP);
- Rapid Prototyping Program (RPP);
- Department of Defense Rapid Prototyping Fund (DOD RPF);
- Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT); and
- Time-Sensitive Target Defeat (TSTD).
“As I’ve been moved over to the R&E side with Dr. Griffin, everything I do, I pledge, is going to have a transition plan to a major program,” he noted. “We are going do these things so that we can inform the major acquisition programs in their development and help them accelerate their acquisition. If we can prove that some technology works, then they can decide or simplify their decision as to what they are going to do.”