Alabama U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, on Thursday questioned senior administration officials during a defense appropriations subcommittee hearing.
Shelby, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its subcommittee on defense, questioned witnesses during the hearing on the Defense Department’s technology, innovation, and modernization priorities and efforts.
Shelby questioned Barbara McQuiston, acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, and Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Shelby’s prepared opening remarks are as follows:
“Ms. McQuiston, Dr. Tompkins, welcome, and thank you for being here today.
“This Committee has appropriated billions of dollars for basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development to support efforts that would allow our military to maintain a competitive and strategic advantage over our adversaries.
“Our technological and industrial progress remain a constant target from China, Russia, and other nation states who are actively working to undermine and surpass our military’s advancements.
“We need a ready and lethal force, equipped with modernized systems capable of providing strong national security and, importantly, deterring war.
“Our investments in innovative research are critical in guaranteeing success.
“Over the last four years, this Committee has supported the necessary budget increases in cutting-edge research areas such as hypersonics, artificial intelligence, unmanned systems, and microelectronics to address warfighter needs and capability gaps.
“With the top line budget recommendation unveiled by the current administration last week, I am extremely concerned about our ability to continue to make those essential strategic investments that will allow us to keep pace.
“I look forward to hearing from you about the progress being made in innovation and technology within the Department of Defense and how resource constraints may impact the Department’s ability to field cutting edge technology.
“I also recognize that we are significantly constrained from getting into many of the details that would provide for a comprehensive discussion in an open hearing setting so, perhaps Mr. Chairman, we could consider a classified discussion with our witnesses at a later date. Thank you.”
During the question portion of the hearing, Shelby asked about the nation’s work on quantum computing, noting that China and Russia are both investing heavily into the research.
“The future of network technology and security will greatly rely on quantum technology and DARPA I know has had initiatives in this area,” answered McQuiston. “I’m happy to say that a lot of them are starting to see commercialization, as well.”
Shelby also asked about next-generation space capabilities and noted that two years ago the space development agency was created to accelerate that area.
McQuiston said the federal government is developing new space architectures and is setting up satellite operations at Grand Forks Air Force Base and at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.