The United States has led the world in innovation, research, and technology development since World War II, but that leadership is now at risk. The American lead has been due to many factors such as investment in education, basic research and development (R&D) and infrastructure, training and nurturing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent at home and the country’s ability to attract the best and brightest students, engineers, and scientists from around the world.
Since World War II, the new markets, industries, companies, and military capabilities that emerged from the country’s science and technology commitment have combined to make the United States the most secure and economically prosperous nation on earth. It has also been converting new technological advances into military capabilities faster than its potential adversaries.
US’s technical and military dominace is now coming under threat from adversaries like China and Russia. Today, the U.S. military is “extraordinarily capable” and powerful in all domains of warfare, he said. “But what’s important to know and recognize as a fact is the gaps between us and potential adversaries — say China or Russia, for example — those have shortened and closed a little bit over the last 10, 15, 20 years,” Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said. The United States military has been involved in counterinsurgency warfare. At the same time, China and Russia took stock of American military prowess and modernized. The Chinese capitalized on a burgeoning economy to invest in military capabilities, thus closing the gap with the United States.
China is closing the technological gap with the United States, and though it may not match U.S. capabilities across the board, it will soon be one of the leading powers in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, energy storage, fifth-generation cellular networks (5G), quantum information systems, and possibly biotechnology, wrote the task group report.
U.S. federal R&D as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) peaked at above 2 percent in the 1970s and has declined since, from a little over 1 percent in 2001 to 0.7 percent in 2018. In 2015, for the first time since World War II, the federal government provided less than half of all funding for basic research. China has grown immeasurably powerful over the last two decades, having placed science & technology (S&T) at the core of its developmental and military strategy. China invests 2.2% of its GDP on R&D ($496 billion), dwarfing India’s $50 billion (PPP figures, 2017). It is closing in on the American R&D spend of $549 billion, clocking over 17% in annual growth rates between 2000 and 2017, against the US average of 4.3%.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is not only dedicating large amounts of resources in its pursuit to become the global leader in S&T. It is also targeting sources of United States and allied strength by employing means that include stealing technology, coercing companies to disclose intellectual property, undercutting free and fair markets, failing to provide reciprocal access in research and development (R&D) projects, and promoting authoritarian practices that run counter to democratic values.
The technology industry has also changed. First, the pace of innovation globally has accelerated, and it is more disruptive and transformative to industries, economies, and societies. Second, many advanced technologies necessary for national security are developed in the private sector by firms that design and build them via complex supply chains that span the globe; these technologies are then deployed in global markets. China has been rapidly adopting to new technology industry scenario.
The Chinese government, in its quest to develop a world-class military by mid-century, is implementing a strategy to divert emerging technologies to military programs, referred to as military-civil fusion (MCF). One of the critical components of Chinese innovation strategy is military civil integration which China’s leaders believe will help China continue its rapid defense modernization without creating too great a drag on its economy. Chinese leader Xi has repeatedly stressed the importance of “military-civilian integration” as a core component of the country’s military development strategy. “Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.
Russia views the development of advanced S&T as a national security priority, and is targeting United States technology through the
employment of a variety of licit and illicit technology transfer mechanisms to support national-level efforts, including its military and
intelligence programs. These actions include using illicit procurement networks, seeking technology transfer through joint ventures with
Western companies, and requiring access to source code from technology companies seeking to sell their products in Russia. With
fewer resources at its disposal compared to the PRC, Russia is focusing its government-led S&T efforts on military and dual-use technologies, such as artificial intelligence, that it believes will bring both military and economic advantages. Despite its focus on developing
military versus civil applications, Russia recognizes the importance of industrial R&D. Russia plans to develop needed innovative
technologies for its future military requirements by enabling its defense industrial base through civil-military integration.
US National Security Strategy (NSS)
US National Security Strategy (NSS) lays out a vision for promoting American prosperity; protecting the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life; preserving peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an era of great power competition. It calls for the United States to lead in research, technology, invention, and innovation, or science and technology (S&T), by prioritizing emerging technologies critical to economic growth and security.
US NSS also calls for the United States to promote and protect the United States National Security Innovation Base (NSIB), which it defines as the American network of knowledge, capabilities, and people – including academia, National Laboratories, and the private sector – that turns ideas into innovations, transforms discoveries into successful commercial products and companies, and protects and enhances the American way of life.
The Defense Department’s access to the private sector and new technologies is essential to national security, but the United States has less
ability to shape the manufacturing base through traditional policy levers. This private-sector dominance has also resulted in critical technologies’ becoming widely available to all countries, even potential adversaries. Military advantages will go to the countries that integrate
commercial technologies more quickly, said the independent CFR task group report.
A new report from the University of California San Diego, created as a guide for the 2020 white house transition teams, authored by the bipartisan Working Group on Science and Technology in U.S.-China Relations, chaired by Peter F. Cowhey, dean of UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy. The report contains specific recommendations for a new and integrated approach to competition by the U.S. in four domains of science and technology: fundamental research, 5G digital communications, artificial intelligence and biotechnology. The working group recommends the U.S. approach to a smart competition be based on three complementary objectives: 1. Bolster U.S. investment in our own innovation capacities to stay competitive and secure. 2. Preserve openness to ensure a steady flow of much-needed global talent into the U.S. and 3. Tighten targeted measures for risk management to address security threats and minimize costs to the U.S.
Among the report’s recommendations for how the U.S. can maintain collaboration with its greatest rival while managing risk includes the transfer of highly sensitive research from universities to national labs or outside commercial entities that are better equipped than universities to vet researchers and protect intellectual property.
Current Critical and Emerging Technologies (C&ET) list
On October 15, the White House released its National Strategy for Critical And Emerging Technologies (C&ET). The United States will lead
in the highest-priority C&ET areas, contribute as a peer with allies and partners in high-priority C&ET areas, and manage technology risk in
other C&ET areas.
These Critical And Emerging Technologies are basically dual-use technologies that are being driven by the commercial sector which US wants to exploit to sustain innovation and maintain technology superiority. Dual-Use Technology – comprises goods and technologies developed to meet commercial needs but which may be used either as military components or for the development or production of military systems. Second, many advanced technologies necessary for national security are multiple-use and developed in the private sector by firms that design and build them via complex supply chains that span the globe.
C&ET reflects the 20 technology areas that United States Government Departments and Agencies identified to the National Security Council
staff as priorities for their missions. These are Advanced Computing, Advanced Conventional Weapons Technologies, Advanced Engineering Materials, Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Sensing, Aero-Engine Technologies, Agricultural Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Systems, Biotechnologies, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Mitigation Technologies, Communication and Networking Technologies, Data Science and Storage, Distributed Ledger Technologies, Energy Technologies, Human-Machine Interfaces, Medical and Public Health Technologies, Quantum Information Science, Semiconductors and Microelectronics and Space Technologies
The United States will lead in the highest priority technology areas to ensure its national security and economic prosperity. Technology
leadership will require forecasting, prioritization due to limited resources, coordination with allies and partners, appropriate investments early in the development cycle, and periodic re-evaluation as technologies mature.
In accordance with the NSS, US has launched its National Strategy for C&ET, and will effectively encourage the we will maintain worldwide leadership in critical and emerging technologies (C&ET) by promoting our NSIB and protecting our technological advantage. The strategy continues to enahnce it’s traitional strengths like developing the highest-quality S&T workforce in the world, Attract and retain inventors and innovators, Leverage private capital and expertise to build and innovate, Increasing priority of R&D in developing United States Government budgets. Like earlier US continuously want to benefit from innovation in allies nations. It also plans to Build strong and lasting technology partnerships with like-minded allies and partners worlwide , and promote democratic values and principles.
The startegy also has new elements like support the development of a robust NSIB, to include academic institutions, laboratories, supporting infrastructure, venture funding, supporting businesses, and industry, Reducing burdensome regulations, policies, and bureaucratic processes that inhibit innovation and industry growth. It also calls for enhanced civil military fusion through increased development and adoption of advanced technology applications within government, and improving the desirability of the government as a customer of the private sector. And it will Lead the development of worldwide technology norms, standards, and governance models that reflect democratic values and interests.
Technology Risk Management
Some emerging technologies are globally diffuse or are too early in the R&D phase to have clearly identified implications for United States national security. In those cases, a risk management approach will be applied to gauge national security implications, inform investments, and monitor development. In managing risk, the United States Government will first identify, evaluate, and prioritize its technology risks, followed by a coordinated response to avoid, reduce, accept, or transfer risk.
The second part of strategy is to protect it’s technology advantage both domestically and in conjunction with likeminded allies and partners.
The United States does not tolerate intellectual property theft, the exploitation of open scientific norms, or economic aggression regarding
C&ET. Relationships will be rooted in fairness, reciprocity, and faithful adherence to agreements. Protecting the United States technology advantage includes strengthening rules where gaps exist, enforcing agreements, and working with like-minded allies and partners to ensure our common principles prevail.
Protecting the United States technology advantage by defending our NSIB
Another part of protecting the United States technology advantage is defending our NSIB, which requires domestic and international
collaboration between companies, industries, universities, and government agencies. The United States will also stand with allies and
partners to oppose attacks on their respective NSIBs.
Ensure that competitors do not use illicit means to acquire United States intellectual property, research, development, or technologies.
Require security design early in the technology development stages, and work with allies and partners to take similar action. Protect the integrity of the R&D enterprise by fostering research security in academic institutions, laboratories, and industry, while balancing the valuable contributions of foreign researchers.
Ensure appropriate aspects of C&ET are adequately controlled under export laws and regulations, as well as multilateral export regimes.
Engage allies and partners to develop their own processes similar to those executed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the
United States (CFIUS).
Engage with the private sector to benefit from its understanding of C&ET as well as future strategic vulnerabilities related to C&ET. Assess worldwide S&T policies, capabilities, and trends, and how they are likely to influence, or undermine, American strategies and programs
The defense community faces deteriorating manufacturing capabilities, insecure supply chains, and dependence on competitor nations for
hardware. The strategy calls to ensure secure supply chains, and encourage allies and partners to do the same.
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