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Losing the Edge


January 26, 2010—In a new backgrounder, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments notes that over the past 10 years there's been a gradual shift in emphasis within DOD's RDT&E accounts from early research over to later development activities. In Fiscal 2000, early research activities, including basic research, applied research, and advanced technology demonstration, stood at about 21 percent of the overall RDT&E budget, but by Fiscal 2010, it had declined to 15 percent. During the same timeframe, later development activities, such as advanced component development, system development and demonstration, and operational system development, rose from 52 percent to 55 percent. CSBA's Todd Harrison says this is consistent with Defense Secretary Bob Gates' "stated intent to focus on delivering 'good enough' solutions that are on time and at a reasonable cost rather than striving for new and 'exquisite' capabilities." However, this approach could, in time, prove disastrous. As Harrison states, "If this trend continues over the long run, however, it could result in a gradual erosion of the United States' technological superiority relative to other militaries."

Source: "Looking Ahead to the FY 2011 Defense Budget: A Review of the Past Decade and Implications for the Future Years Defense Program," Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, January 2010. (Document)