DoD Official: Government Has Lost its Technological Edge Over Opponents
A senior Defense Department official said the government has lost its technological edge and now must rely on industry to overmatch adversaries in the battlefields of the future.
"Many of our adversaries have acquired, developed and even stolen technologies that have put them on somewhat equal footing with the West in a range of areas," said Michael Dumont, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low intensity conflict at the National Defense Industrial Association SO/LIC conference in Washington, D.C.
Examples of this can be found in advanced hacking technologies and weapons used for anti-access/area denial scenarios, he said. Both pose threats to weapons systems and war fighters, he added.
"Collectively ... we need to get out ahead of this and stay in front of it," he said. In that regard, there must be a better way for government to acquire technology and put it in the hands of special operators more quickly, he said. The military must do better to anticipate future needs and "make investments that take us beyond the reach of our headlights."
That expertise no longer lies in the U.S. government, he said. "Recognizing this future direction, requires understanding the current reality: the U.S. government no longer has the leading edge developing its own leading edge capabilities, particularly in information technology."
The private sector is now creating innovative products at breakneck speeds, he said. "Our government needs industry to win the fight," he said.
Dumont praised special operations forces as key players in fighting global threats. "Despite the austere budget environment that we currently face, this administration and Congress have demonstrated a clear commitment to the SOF community," Dumont said. The evidence is the strength of the SOF budget in the current year.
Given the constrained budget environment, the winding down of operations in Afghanistan and the complex, global threat, special operations forces will be called upon to address instability and maintain order in the "global commons," he said.
Opponents such as the Islamic State are remarkably adept at information warfare and social media. Special operators who conduct military information support operations, once called psychological operations, can have a role in defeating terrorist campaigns, Dumont said.
"At a minimum we need to be able to shape events on the ground with as little force and as little risk as possible," he said. "Otherwise, we may be forced to deal with problems that require us to use more resources, more force, and under conditions that would require us to assume even greater risk than had we felt with them earlier on."