OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. – Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commander, and representatives from the command hosted senior leaders from Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) and University Affiliated Research Centers (UARC) for roundtable discussions at the command’s headquarters, Sept. 29.
The meeting marks the first time that USSTRATCOM hosted leaders from FFRDCs and UARCs simultaneously, and supports the command’s continuing effort to build, sustain and support partnerships with academia, industry and other partner organizations.
“Addressing the complex, global issues we face around the world requires us to work closely with both government and non-government experts that can provide unique perspectives and innovative solutions,” Haney said. “Being able to tap into the resources and experience of our partners from FFRDCs and UARCs enables us to generate relevant and timely research solutions that directly impact our operations and ultimately, national security.”
Dr. Julie Del Vecchio Savage, USSTRATCOM executive advisor, said the “landmark event enabled a strategic-level dialog between the command's senior leadership and that of several FFRDCs and UARCs.
“Our objectives for this session were to initiate dialog with FFRDC and UARC senior leaders on USSTRATCOM's most urgent and strategically important mission challenges, understand relevant ongoing work and, most importantly, stimulate focus, innovation and collaboration going forward,” she added.
While here, representatives from six of the nation’s 10 FFRDCs and three of the 14 UARCs listened to a briefing on USSTRATCOM challenges in the 21st century from Haney, shared information about their respective organizations and toured USSTRATCOM’s Global Operations Center.
“When I look at USSTRATCOM’s missions, about half of our work supports those areas,” said Dr. Stephen Huffman, senior vice president and general manager for the MITRE Corporation’s Center for National Security (CNS). “[For example,] we are very focused on resilience in all of our systems, particularly those in the nuclear enterprise… We support command and control [systems] for [them].”
The CNS includes the company’s National Security Engineering Center (NSEC), an FFRDC sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD).
Dr. Marc Bernstein, associate director of the Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (also an FFRDC), discussed a number of the laboratory’s current projects during his remarks, including those related to advancing technology and testing in ballistic missile defense, space and cyber operations.
“We’ve been ramping up in cyber over the last decade,” he said. “There are some substantial capabilities emerging.”
Created in the 1940’s, FFRDCs serve as long-term strategic partners that assist the government with systems engineering and integration, research and development, and study and analysis. They support the government by developing transformational capabilities in defense, transportation, energy, civil agency administration, homeland security, atmospheric sciences, science policy and other areas.
In addition to the NSEC and CNS, other FFRDCs in attendance included the RAND’s National Development and Research Institutes, the Center for Naval Analyses Center for Strategic Studies, and the Institute for Defense Analysis.
Dr. Andrew Gerber, director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), said he was surprised at how beneficial the engagement was.
“I didn’t expect to get this much insight,” he said.
During his remarks, Gerber pointed out that about one-third of GTRI’s work is related to training and real-world applications in the electronic warfare domain.
GTRI is a UARC that has partnered with industry and government agencies since 1934. As a non-profit research institute, GTRI aims to solve complex challenges with the right mix of expertise, creativity and practicality.
Military organizations have collaborated with UARCs as far back as World War II. Since then, Haney and other military leaders have capitalized on the research and development of ideas and technology created by these institutions.
The other UARCS represented at the event were the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska, which works closely with USSTRATCOM.
Haney said he has the utmost respect for the experts and leaders who attended the roundtable discussion, and expressed his appreciation for their partnership.
“We have been planning an event like this to host some of the best thinkers and leaders from UARCs and FFRDCs for a long time, and it is very rewarding to see that plan come to fruition,” Haney said. “I was very pleased with the exchange of ideas that took place during this important meeting and the synergy of our collective efforts, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration.”