Publications

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Category: Policy Briefs

April 1, 2004

The Science and Engineering Workforce and National Security

Trends in the American science and engineering (S&E) workforce and national research and development (R&D) funding patterns and priorities have troubling implications for the economic and national security of our nation.

Jan. 1, 2004

Dirty Bombs: The Threat Revisited

Nuclear radiation, invisible and detectable only with special instruments, has the power to terrify—in part because of its association with nuclear weapons—and to become an instrument of terrorists. Radioactive isotopes can be spread widely with or without high explosives by a radiological dispersion device (RDD) or so-called dirty bomb. This paper provides a general overview of the nature of RDDs and sources of material for them and estimates the effects of an assault, including casualties and economic consequences. Many experts believe that an RDD is an economic weapon capable of inflicting devastating damage on the United States. This paper is in full agreement with that assessment and makes some quantitative estimates of the magnitude of economic disruption that can be produced by various levels of attack. It is also generally believed that even a very large RDD is unlikely to cause many human casualties, either immediately or over the long term. A careful examination of the consequences of the tragic accident in Goiânia, Brazil, however, shows that some forms of radiological attack could kill tens or hundreds of people and sicken hundreds or thousands. Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, RDDs are not weapons of mass destruction.

Jan. 1, 2004

XVIII Airborne Corps: Spearhead of Military Transformation

War transforms armies. Combat accelerates transformation by moving it out of the realm of academic debate and endless speculation about the future to a pragmatic approach focused on fielding new capabilities within new combat formations as soon as possible. In war, transformation means conserving equipment and operational methods that are still relevant while incorporating new technologies, tactics, and organizations that enable victory. It is nearly impossible to replicate in peacetime training the true conditions of land warfare—ambiguity, uncertainty, and above all terror, killing, and exhaustion. For the Army, the best opportunity to transform involves parallel evolution, a method that moves new technologies into combat formations today and explores what the troops will actually do with them in action. With a conflict in progress, this approach is better than trying to predict future uses in an inflexible operational requirements document developed in isolation from the field environment.

Nov. 1, 2003

Hydrogen as a Fuel for DOD

Energy issues have been at the center of the national security debate for some time, and the current situation in the Persian Gulf underscores the strategic importance of sound energy policy. Activities or developments—geopolitical, environmental, technological, or regulatory—that materially change the energy security equation are, naturally, of great interest to the Department of Defense (DOD). The announcement by President George Bush in his State of the Union address that he intends to accelerate research and development (R&D) for hydrogen-powered vehicles toward the objective of total U.S. energy independence has great potential impact on DOD. This paper examines a number of technical issues connected with energy independence through hydrogen and how they might affect DOD. We conclude that the move to a hydrogen economy will be a massive undertaking, requiring large investments and decades to accomplish. We will show that, with few exceptions, pure hydrogen is not a viable fuel for DOD missions, primarily because of the DOD requirement for compact, high-volumetric energy density power sources. As a result, to meet its unique needs, DOD likely will have to increase its dependence on nuclear power and support R&D that investigates ways to use hydrogen to synthesize hydrocarbon fuels in an environmentally compliant fashion. Several suggestions and recommendations will be made in this regard.

Nov. 1, 2003

Alternative Governance: A Tool forMilitary Laboratory Reform

Throughout the Cold War, the United States maintained an edge over adversaries by fielding technologically superior warfighting systems. This strategy depended on a strong research and development (R&D) effort in both the public and private sectors, and the community of military laboratories in the Department of Defense played an essential role in the overall effort. Because of the importance of these labs during the Cold War, defense planners continually focused on ways to improve and strengthen them.

Oct. 1, 2003

Dual-Track Transformation for NATO

Recent strains between the United States and some European allies have raised concerns that NATO is becoming irrelevant or even headed toward extinction. A breakup of NATO would severely damage the United States and Europe as well as prospects for global peace. As an urgent priority, NATO must restore its unity and strengthen its capacity for common action in the Greater Middle East. But how can this goal be achieved in today’s climate?

Oct. 1, 2003

Global Warming Could Have a Chilling Effect on the Military

Most debates and studies addressing potential climate change have focused on the buildup of industrial greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a gradual increase in global temperatures. But this “slow ramp”1 climate change scenario ignores recent and rapidly advancing evidence that Earth’s climate repeatedly has become much colder, warmer, wetter, or drier—in time spans as short as three to 10 years.

Sept. 1, 2003

A New PPBS Process to Advance Transformation

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has released its first Transformational Planning Guidance to steer the Armed Forces through a joint process of transformation. This is a strong step in the direction of making transformation and innovation visible parts of the defense planning process, but more is needed. The planning, programming, and budgeting system (PPBS) through which the Department of Defense (DOD) prioritizes its programs and resources has to be restructured to facilitate transformation and innovation, not to obstruct them. DOD has begun a trial resource allocation process that will reduce the burden of repetitive report generation that has drained time and energy away from innovative, strategic change. This process gives senior leadership an opportunity to shift its attention from wrestling with budget detail to developing initiatives to transform U.S. forces. However, this change will not happen of its own accord. A set of proposals that would enable senior leadership to move its focus from the back end (budgeting) of the resource allocation process to the front end (planning and idea generation) is presented below. A review of how the PPBS has evolved is presented to highlight the need to target specific parts for restructuring.

Sept. 1, 2003

Technology, Transformation, and New Operational Concepts

Throughout history, technology has been central to warfare, often giving qualitative advantages to numerically inferior forces. Typically, the rate of technology development has been relatively slow and the introduction of new weapons systems even slower, which has allowed evolutionary development of operational concepts. Today’s accelerated pace of technology development no longer allows sequential development of operational concepts. In addition, the current global political environment has placed demands upon the military that range from engaging in major regional conflicts to stabilization, reconstruction and peacekeeping, all creating a continuous need for flexible, adaptive systems and new concepts of operation.

July 1, 2003

Moore’s Law: A Department of Defense Perspective

The past 50 years have seen enormous advances in electronics and the systems that depend upon or exploit them. The Department of Defense (DOD) has been an important driver in, and a profound beneficiary of, these advances, which have come so regularly that many observers expect them to continue indefinitely. However, as Jean de la Fontaine said, “In all matters one must consider the end.” A substantial literature debates the ultimate limits to progress in solid-state electronics as they apply to the current paradigm for silicon integrated circuit (IC) technology. The outcome of this debate will have a profound societal impact because of the key role that silicon ICs play in computing, information, and sensor technologies.