Depressed Spending Heightens Focus on Key Technology Investments

Published: November 13, 2013

Big DataDEFENSEInnovationIntelligence

At the beginning of November 2013, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that explored the future role of the U.S. military forces. Budget pressure is expected to continue as commanders weigh decisions about reduced end strength levels and optimized resource management. For Hagel, preserving investments in several strategic technologies will be critical to modern warfare.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates established the ISR Task Force in 2008 to expedite development and delivery of ISR technologies to forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, the organization is reported to have spent around $12 billion.  Some of the technologies delivered include surveillance aircraft and drones. This past September, a memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Carter outlined a transition of the ISR Task Force from part of the Office of Secretary of Defense to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. The move is expected improve staffing and support rapid technology development. At the same time, the move suggests a strategic change for the organization as the task force evaluates global warfighter requirements.
The increasing emphasis on what General James Cartwright called “computational power in our command-and-control data analysis” will fuel demand for technology developments in areas including space systems, cyber capabilities, and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance). The model of operations that evolved through conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq has driven demand for greater precision through intelligence gathering capabilities. 
In response to these shifts, tailored technology offerings are being brought to market that acknowledge eroding bandwidth prices and ballooning scale of data transfers in the defense and intelligence community.  In addition to improving access to data, systems that automatically scan ISR data sets for anomalies are accelerating data processing, analysis, and dissemination. These high volume/high data rate solutions will continue to present growth opportunities for vendors as requirements rescope and align with changes to military strategic priorities.