AUSTIN, Texas — The Honorable Heidi Shyu, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at the U.S. Department of Defense, discussed science and technology research priorities with Army Futures Command senior leaders during a Nov. 2–3 visit to the command’s headquarters offices in Austin, Texas.
The visit, which included tours of the Austin-based Army Applications Laboratory and Army Software Factory, occurred amid ongoing Army-wide budget considerations and highlighted the importance the Defense Department is placing on carefully evaluating any adjustments to planned Army modernization initiatives.
“When it comes to prioritizing our nation’s defense research and engineering investments, we endeavor to evaluate all angles and potential impacts,” Shyu said. “We do so because we understand both the importance and the urgency of making the types of shrewd and bold decisions that will most benefit our future warfighters.”
Shyu is a scholar of mathematics and engineering, having obtained multiple graduate-level degrees in both disciplines, and served as the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology from 2012 to 2016. She also brings in-depth industry experience and knowledge to her newest government service role.
During her time as vice president of technology strategy at a major defense company, Shyu saw firsthand the multifold benefits and critical national security importance of continually innovating in the technology space.
“The pace at which technology is developing will only increase, so it is imperative that we harness the best innovations available across industry, academia and government research facilities to hasten and elevate our defense capabilities,” Shyu said.
Shyu is an advocate of furthering creative partnerships and research innovations — both internal and external to the Defense Department — that maximize defense advances while minimizing unnecessary expenditures, such as the replication of research that may already be occurring in the private sector.
She and her team continue to explore ways to nimbly strengthen the military’s high-tech resources, including through rapid prototyping, strategic use of modular open systems and architectures, meaningful incorporation of end-user feedback, flexible contracting mechanisms and mutually beneficial information-sharing with partners and allies.
The amount of money the military spends on sustaining weapons systems annually — approximately 70 percent of the overall budget for developing, procuring and sustaining weaponry — is also something Shyu is eager to address.
She hopes to guide the Defense Department toward spending less on sustaining older equipment and more on acquiring novel equipment by investing in artificial intelligence, hypersonic weapons and other state-of the art technologies; secure network systems that can withstand sophisticated cyberattacks; newly invented materials and products that improve fuel efficiency; intelligent software; and diverse and competitive science, technology, engineering and mathematics people talent.
Shyu’s visit provided Army Futures Command an opportunity to showcase recent initiatives aligned with these priorities, including Project Convergence, first-of-their-kind talent modernization initiatives and the Army’s use of Soldier-centered design and Soldier touchpoints to inform new product and systems development. Command leaders also discussed how the Army’s signature modernization efforts will help to identify, hone and deliver next-generation equipment, systems and weaponry to the Army and Joint Force.
“We were honored to host Ms. Shyu and appreciated her astute insights and recommendations on advancing our strategic investments in cutting-edge technologies,” said Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command.
“Our future Soldiers and service members will reap the rewards of the informed decisions and actions the DoD is making today in the realm of defense research.”