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FYI Number 93: June 20, 2005

Senate Armed Services Report Language on S&T Programs

While the Senate Armed Services Committee approved its FY 2006 authorization bill more than a month ago, it has not been possible to schedule time on the Senate floor for consideration of this measure. It now appears that the Senate will consider this bill after it returns from its July 4 recess, with debate likely to run a week or more. S. 1042 provides important guidance for defense policy and budget decisions for the fiscal year starting on October 1. The Defense Appropriations Bill provides the actual funding.

Accompanying this bill is Senate Report 109-69 which contains the Senate recommendations on many defense programs. The following are selections from the report language pertaining to the overall level of S&T funding, basic research, university programs, and a defense education program. There are many other sections on specific programs not included below, including language on the Small Business Innovation Research Program, technology transition, the proposed use of basic research funding for academic ship design, and computer science. The report can be accessed at http://thomas.loc.gov/ under "Committee Information."

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:

"The committee notes the critical role that investments in defense science and technology (S&T) and basic research play in developing the revolutionary military capabilities of the future. These programs also train the next generation of U.S. scientists, engineers, and technology entrepreneurs who will maintain complex weapons and defense systems and who will assist in solving future national security challenges. The committee remains concerned about the overall funding level for defense science and research. The committee notes that the fiscal year 2006 budget request for S&T is below the previous year's requested level. If in any year from fiscal year 2001 to 2009 the budget request for these research programs does not increase by 2 percent over inflation, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 (Public Law 106-65) requires the Department of Defense to certify the impact of the S&T budget on national security and to initiate a Defense Science Board study assessing the impact of the proposed budget on defense technology and the national defense.

"The committee notes that the recent National Research Council report entitled ‘Assessment of Department of Defense Basic Research' [see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/009.html]contained a number of findings and recommendations. The report found that ‘in real terms the resources provided for Department of Defense basic research have declined substantially over the past decade.' The report also found that there has been a recent deemphasis on ‘unfettered exploration' in the basic research program, which ‘historically has been a critical enabler of the most important breakthroughs in military capabilities.' The committee is troubled by the lack of support for real innovative work at the Department, which could have serious consequences for the development of necessary future military capabilities. Therefore, the committee recommends an increase of over $30.0 million in the Department's basic research accounts.

"The committee notes that the National Research Council report also made a number of recommendations to improve the execution of the basic research program. The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a report to the congressional defense committees no later than March 1, 2006, which evaluates the National Research Council recommendations to improve the Department's basic research program, and details a plan and schedule for the implementation of appropriate recommendations.

"Finally, the committee has provided increases in the S&T program to support specific focus areas in fiscal year 2006, including: close to $50.0 million for unmanned systems; approximately $63.0 million for power technology advances; nearly $116.0 million for force protection, transformational technologies, and training innovations; $42.0 million in manufacturing research and process technologies; over $105.0 million to support counterterrorism efforts; and $68.0 million for combat casualty care and military medicine, including a targeted $40.0 million for prevention, mitigation, and treatment of blast injuries."

ARMY BASIC RESEARCH:

"the committee is concerned with the long term viability of the defense research program, especially those efforts geared at developing innovative solutions to address emerging and future challenges. Ongoing work in the areas of materials and composites for flexible armor, neuroscience, textiles with embedded sensors, efficient vehicle operations, and basic terrain analysis modeling and simulation are a few of the many research examples that contribute to meeting the needs of the warfighter. . . . "

ARMY UNIVERSITY RESEARCH:

"Significant advances in materials technologies, materials processing, and secure communications require continued fundamental research to serve as the building blocks for Army future combat systems. The committee recommends an increase of $6.5 million in PE 61104A for university research, including $2.0 million for strategic defense systems manufacturing technology basic research; $2.5 million for expanded continuation of the nanotubes optimized for lightweight exceptional strength composite project; $2.0 million for integrated systems in sensing, imaging, and communications research to provide secure optical connections."

NAVY UNIVERSITY RESEARCH:

"The committee is concerned with the low priority placed on long-term research on naval sciences by the Department of Defense. The development of faster, more efficient, and durable systems for the naval environment requires increases in targeted research on multifunctional advanced composites, innovative sensors technology, advanced engineered materials, and blast resistant composites. These research projects have the potential to address current threats by providing energy absorbing ship hulls, blast resistant grid and foam stiffened structures, and advanced remote sensing at higher resolutions. Additional basic science in the pursuit of breakthroughs at the intersection of engineering, computer science, and neuroscience shows promise in providing seamless control of unmanned systems. . . ."

NAVY SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OUTREACH:

"As many future military systems continue to increase in technological complexity, a robust workforce with discipline-specific scientific skills and knowledge is necessary. The Navy's special needs in areas such as ocean sciences, advanced materials, and electronics will be met through the participation of current Navy laboratory personnel in training and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers. Training researchers and innovators is a long-term project requiring near-term attention.

"The committee recommends an increase in PE 61152N of $3.0 million to support continuation of a pilot program--Naval Research Science and Technology for America's Readiness (N-Star). N-Star leverages the resources and expertise available in Navy facilities to engage and mentor students who have science and engineering aptitude and interests."

AIR FORCE BASIC SCIENCE:

"Innovative work supported by the Air Force basic research accounts is key to ensuring that our military has future capabilities and equipment to meet emerging threats. Applications such as air combat systems and ground support optoelectronics have foundations in novel nanomaterials used for the development of optical devices which are, in turn, components of information processing systems. The ability to quickly, securely, and reliably process information enables information dominance, one of a number of broad defense objectives. . . . "

"Air Force missions in the areas of reducing time to target and rapid response to global threats require basic and applied research on missile propulsion systems. Research on hypersonic engine designs have produced some early results over the last year. Design tools to predict and monitor performance of propulsion and control systems are needed, as are trained experts to move promising research forward. The committee recommends an increase of $4.0 million in PE 61102F to expand basic hypersonics research and to develop a strong academic program in hypersonics flow physics."

DEFENSE EDUCATION PROGRAM (SMART):

"The committee recommends a provision that would modify the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) pilot program that was initiated in the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Public Law 108-375). The provision would make the program permanent and would provide additional authorities to the Department of Defense for implementation. Under the provision, the Department could provide fellowship as well as scholarship assistance to individuals pursuing technical degrees critical to national security. The provision would allow the Department to award financial assistance directly to an individual or to an administering entity, reducing the management burden on the Department. The provision would modify Section 1105 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Public Law 108-375) to permit the Department to hire individuals participating in the program, which would expedite security clearances and other personnel processes."

"The committee established the SMART pilot scholarship program in fiscal year 2005 to address growing deficiencies in the numbers and types of scientists and engineers comprising our national security workforce. The committee commends the Department for quickly implementing the pilot program and notes that, in just the first year, hundreds of qualified individuals submitted applications for approximately 30 available scholarships. A permanent SMART program would maintain the committee's original goal of providing targeted educational assistance to individuals seeking a baccalaureate or an advanced degree in science and engineering disciplines deemed critical to national security by the Department.

"The committee continues to believe that future U.S. technical dominance relies on a rapid, well-managed infusion of defense science and engineering personnel who are experts in 21st century defense-related critical skills. The committee authorizes the Department's budget request of $10.3 million for the SMART defense education program for fiscal year 2006, which would more than double the number of scholarships and fellowships available for the next school year."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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