The massive drawdown underway in Afghanistan and the current instability of the budget situation for DoD has led many to anticipate agencies and organizations stood up to react to war needs will go away once 2014 ends.
However, officials in at least one of those agencies — the Rapid Fielding Office — said that is not the case. While some of the organizations may morph into various parts of DoD and change shape or structure , the Pentagon’s Rapid Fielding office will expand its mission.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rapid Fielding Earl Wyatt said his office plans to expand beyond its “warzone” footing which uses operational prototyping to deliver needed technologies in less than 3 years as well as explore longer-term developmental prototyping projects. Wyatt said the office will continue to push warzone procurement efforts with troops still in Afghanistan.
Wyatt sat down for an interview with Military.com to discuss the new missions. Read the entire story here.
Wyatt’s office recently approved a list of 13 Joint Capability Technology Demonstrations, or JCTD, meant to explore the realm of the possible with regard to emerging technologies and harvest the best of what might be available. The list offere a window into areas of developmental priority as the DoD re-balances to the Pacific theater and prepares to face more technologically adept adversaries.
For instance, the JTCD prioritize technologies geared toward assessing and navigating through the electro-magnetic spectrum. There also continues to be much discussion about the potential future jamming environment and the importance of operating in what Pentagon officials describe as a more challenged or contested environment, Wyatt explained. Other priorities include exploration of next-generation IT, computer or server technologies designed to reduce the amount of hardware needed.
The so-called “zero-client” approach is designed to allow a single work station to access multiple domains, said Robin Hicks, who directs the JCTD effort for the Pentagon.
The Pentagon’s budget for rapid fielding and JCTDs is going up in terms of requested amounts. Wyatt’s office received $255 million in 2013 and has requested $328 million for fiscal year 2014, according to Pentagon officials. The increased request contains more funds for JCTDs as well.
Communications technologies also figure prominently in the list of JCTDs, as the Pentagon is looking to find new ways to establish and secure cellular networks. In fact, one of the JCTDs is geared toward using UAS as nodes to facilitate communication in a tactical cellular network.
Speaking of UAS, launching small Micro-UAS from submarines is a key project being worked on by Wyatt’s office and the Navy.