WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s chief technology officer is looking for low-cost options for deterring, and, if necessary, intervening in, overseas regional conflicts that involve U.S. allies.
Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu is commissioning a study from the Defense Science Board that considers how the U.S. military can apply technology, training and operational approaches in ways that deter “emerging regional powers” from invading neighboring countries.
“The concepts may devolve from novel technology, improvements in training and doctrine, alliance building or exploitation of inherent asymmetric vulnerabilities of adversaries,” she said in a Feb. 13 memo. “The goal is to deter local conflict involving allies or partners and prevail at the lowest cost should deterrence fail.”
The study is driven by concerns that adversary countries and regional aggressors are investing in technology designed to make it more costly for the U.S. to assist its allies or fulfill international treaty agreements.
“Emerging regional powers have invested over the last decade to discourage the United States from intervening,” Shyu said in the memo. “These investments are aimed at raising the cost of United States intervention to unacceptable levels; cost in terms of loss of life of military personnel and loss of high-value assets.”
While the memo doesn’t mention Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly one year ago, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $61 billion in military aid since the war began, including air defense systems, artillery weapons, missiles and tanks. Lawmakers have widely supported the funding packages, but some Republicans have expressed skepticism about the cost of continuing to provide aid.
The Defense Science Board, established in 1956, is made up of former senior military and government officials, academics, and business leaders who advise the Department of Defense on various science, technology, manufacturing and acquisition challenges.
Shyu notes a specific interest in advanced undersea capabilities and operational concepts, new uses for space systems, electronic warfare countermeasures and cyber weapons.
The study should take no longer than one year, according to the memo, and any findings or recommendations will be offered to the full science board during a public meeting.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.