New National Defense Science and Technology Strategy is Released by the DoD

National Defense Science
(Credit: DoD).

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief… recently, the DoD issued it’s National Defense Science and Technology Strategy (NDSTS), outlining the Pentagon’s most urgent science and technology goals and other priorities. In our analysis, we’ll be breaking down 1) what the new DoD plan aims to achieve, 2) the developments and philosophy behind the plan, 3) key areas of focus the DoD’s plan outlines, and 4) how the plan will help the U.S. military achieve its long-term goals.

Quote of the Week

“Just as war is too important to leave it to the generals, science and technology are too important to leave in the hands of the experts.”

– Sheldon Rampton

Latest Stories: Among the stories we’re covering this week at The Debrief include the Department of Defense (DoD) is requesting new authorities that would allow the Pentagon to initiate the development of new breakthrough technologies without explicit pre-approval from Congress. Elsewhere, we look at how the United States Air Force is building a new set of rockets and test tracks that will aid in the development of advanced weapons that need to be tested in high-speed fast-burn scenarios. You can get links to all our latest stories at the end of this week’s newsletter.

Podcasts: This week in podcasts from The Debrief, on The Micah Hanks Program we take a critical look at several modern disappearances and the purported strangeness that is often associated with such incidents, along with what U.S. crime statistics say. Also, be sure to catch Stephanie Gerk and MJ Banias’s coverage of the most interesting news items on this side of the galaxy in the latest installment of The Debrief Weekly Report. You can subscribe to all of The Debrief’s podcasts, including audio editions of Rebelliously Curious, by heading over to our Podcasts Page. 

Video News: Recently on Rebelliously Curious, Chrissy Newton sat down with John Gruener, a space scientist from NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division, explains why lunar soil is crucial for future human missions to the Moon, and shares his passion for space farming. Also, if you missed the first installment of our all-new series “Ask Dr. Chance,” be sure to check out the first episode, and episode two airing in the weeks ahead. You can also watch past episodes and other great content from The Debrief on our official YouTube Channel.

With all our housekeeping out of the way, it’s time we shift our focus over to the DoD’s new science and technology plan, and how the Pentagon hopes to ensure that the U.S. remains on top of its game in the decades ahead.

The National Defense Science and Technology Strategy

This week, the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy (NDSTS) was released by the Department of Defense, a new plan that outlines “the science and technology priorities, goals, and investments of the Department” along with providing guidance on where the path of future defense scientific research and engineering should lead.

The new NDSTS builds on the objectives presented in the National Defense Strategy, which previously stated that America must tap its “entrepreneurial spirit and our diversity and pluralistic system of ideas and technology generation that drive unparalleled creativity, innovation, and adaptation” to meet the geopolitical challenges the current decade presents.

Ranging from problems in national defense science and technology that include potential cyber-attacks to supply chains, to biological attacks and the race to produce new offensive technologies, as well as the U.S.’s ability to defend against those produced by its adversaries, the short 12-page document calls on the DoD “change its internal processes to identify technologies and see them progress through acquisition into fielded capabilities.”

The plan focuses on critical areas that include biotechnology, quantum science, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, space technology, renewable energy, microelectronics, human-machine interfaces, directed energy technologies, and more.


“U.S. and allied leadership in technology and innovation has long been part of our military advantage,” the new NDSTS states, adding that now is a vital time for the development of new technologies, and the competitive forces internationally that are driving their creation and production.

“We must take steps to preserve our leadership and counter our competitors who have taken direct aim at this advantage,” an unclassified version of the plan reads. “To respond to this challenge, the NDS calls for “broad and deep change in how we produce and manage military capability…to construct an enduring foundation for our military advantage.”

National Defense Science
Diagram outlining the Defense Ecosystem in the United States and around the world, as detailed in the 2023 National Defense Science and Technology Strategy (Credit: DoD).

In a recent statement, the Pentagon’s Chief Technology Officer Heidi Shyu said that for the objectives of the NDS to be realized, the DoD “must leverage critical emerging technologies.”

“This Strategy helps us make carefully crafted decisions that bolster our comparative advantages rather than engaging in wasteful technology races. We will emphasize developing asymmetric capabilities that will help ensure our national security over the long term,” Shyu said.

Key Areas of the NDSTS

There are three primary areas the NDSTS focuses on, which comprise the following:

  • Focus on the Joint Mission: The NDSTS emphasizes the necessity for making beneficial choices in the technologies the U.S. chooses to develop, and avoid becoming embedded in technology races and wasteful actions. “Whenever possible, we will place emphasis on developing asymmetric capabilities for the Joint Force,” the plan states. “To achieve the objectives of the NDS we must leverage critical emerging technologies.”
  • Create and field capabilities at speed and scale: Calling for “new pathways to rapidly experiment with asymmetric capabilities and deliver new technologies at scale,” the NDSTS urges that potentially innovative technological developments not fall to the wayside as a result of negligence, bureaucracy, or from allowing “old paradigms to prevent collaboration with some of our most trusted partners.” The NDSTS says the DoD will seek to build new partnerships and ensure that military advantage is attained with the most critical technologies being developed.
  • Ensure the foundations for research and development: The DoD’s efforts “to recruit, retain, and cultivate talent,” as well as a focus on “revitalizing our physical infrastructure” and “upgrading our digital infrastructure,” the science plan presented this week also seeks to ensure R&D is facilitated by building stronger collaborative potential with the Pentagon’s various partners and assets. The plan also outlines the DoD’s interest in investing in education, to help bolster the “STEM workforce pipeline that is critical to our national security.”

The Path to Innovation

With its emphasis on leveraging partnerships with commercial partners and international allies, the NDSTS lays its focus on the three critical areas involving national defense science objectives, as well as 14 technology areas outlined by the DoD’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO)’s Strategic Vision.

“The Department will continue to leverage the broad innovation ecosystem across academia, Federally-funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), university-affiliated research centers (UARCs), DoD laboratories, national laboratories, non-profit entities, commercial industry, and other Government departments and agencies,” read a DoD statement accompanying the release of the plan.

National Defense Science
A U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command assured Position, Navigation, and Timing joint capability technology demonstration satellite, as depicted in the unclassified version of the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy (Credit: NASA).

“The need for change is real and urgent,” the unclassified version states. “We will focus on the NDS when identifying and investing in critical technology areas for the future. Working with our allies and partners, as well as industry, we will align research and engineering with acquisition to rapidly field new capabilities at speed and scale.”

“The Department will act urgently to address the diverse and complex challenges that our country faces to protect the security of the American people, to expand economic prosperity and opportunity, and to realize and defend the values at the heart of the American way of life.”

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] thedebrief [dot] org, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

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