National Security Issues and Advocacy
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) represents the aerospace endeavor and the technical professionals which supports it. The AIAA Strategic Plan provides four core charges for its advocacy programs:
- To foster AIAA as the voice of, and advocate for, the aerospace profession;
- To contribute to society by acting as a catalyst for information flow and creative exchange
- To create high value to our members; and
- To strengthen the profession by stimulating workforce development and retention
AIAA meets these goals by its advocacy on behalf of issues that impact the nation’s national security research programs and the professionals those programs and the associated industries employ.
Overcoming the Emerging Technology Acquisition “Valley of Death”
Federal budgets for the acquisition of emerging technologies have become increasingly constrained. A problem for many emerging technologies when budgets are tight is the claim that a “better” technology is always just around the corner. So when requirements and needs are not pressing, potential customers are inclined to wait. This is true for a broad spectrum of emerging technologies - directed energy, biometrics, bio-fuels, hyper-spectral imaging, etc. In the S&T Policy Statement for the FY2011 budget, Obama Administration directives to “support long-term, visionary, high-payoff research” are not being reflected in agency actions. At the acquisition level, “better is the enemy of good enough” often prevails as a guiding philosophy and prevents moving to paradigm-shifting technologies. SBIR projects and corporate IR&D often bring significant innovations, but emerging technologies increasingly fail to progress from R&D to production because following the “tried and true” path is lower risk. Emerging technologies may continue to receive R&D funding, but bringing them to military and civilian users is where the real benefits and real job creation occur. DDR&E and DARPA may fund innovative R&D, but there is no focal point for taking R&D to the prototype level. With continued deferment of acquisition decisions, corporate investment is declining because of frustration with the lack of “return on investment.” Small declines in corporate investment as a percentage of gross revenues are significant in total dollars, and are eroding the competitive posture of the U.S. Ultimately, this also impacts the hiring and retention of the U.S. aerospace workforce.
Establishing and Implementing a Viable National Cybersecurity Strategy
Government and civilian organizations have never been more dependent on cyber networks than they are today. From financial institutions to local utilities to military communications, these entities rely heavily on having reliable and secure cyber access for conducting daily operations across the nation and the globe. Unfortunately, key infrastructure, financial and defense related programs must rely on a patchwork of outdated networks protected by inadequate security measures and overseen by multiple agencies to withstand today’s cyber attacks. Recent incidents in both military and civilian areas point to significant issues with current U.S. policy on cybersecurity as well as a flawed implementation, leaving critical assets and institutions at risk.
Improved Air Cargo Security and Scanning
Currently, only a small percentage of cargo aboard passenger and cargo airplanes in USA national airspace is screened for hazards to the traveling public. There is a distinct possibility of loss of life and property from an explosion or injury from radiation or biological/chemical leakage from routine air cargo or from cargo intended to act as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). International and domestic air cargo represents billions of dollars in trade annually; cargo is carried in air freighters as well as in belly bins on passenger aircraft. TSA and others provide stringent requirements for hand-carried and checked passenger baggage. Air cargo screening is less thorough, allowing a carrier to unwittingly carry potentially hazardous materials. The 1996 loss of 109 lives aboard a Valujet DC-9 in Florida due to improperly marked oxygen canisters in cargo provides a clear warning of the impact of small amounts of hazardous cargo.
Assuring the Viability of the U.S. Aerospace and Defense Industrial Base
Continued stability of the U.S. aerospace and defense (A&D) industrial base is critical to our economy, national security, infrastructure, and future workforce. The A&D industry is facing one of its greatest challenges in history as Congress and the Administration deal with mounting national debt and the need to balance the federal budget. All federal agencies face significant budget reductions, with the Department of Defense (DoD) potentially bearing the biggest burden. While all areas must be examined to identify unnecessary spending that can be reduced or eliminated to help lower the federal budget deficit and national debt, we must make sure that the nation’s future is not mortgaged to address today’s crisis.
The Impact of Export Controls on the Domestic Aerospace Industry
Export control policies that were originally designed to protect sensitive technologies and capabilities from adversarial regimes have become a significant detriment to the security and advanced technology industrial base of the United States. New policies are needed that protect our most sensitive national security technologies while recognizing that a robust U.S. aerospace industry must have the ability to compete in order for this keystone industrial sector to continue to support national security objectives and our economy.
A National Strategy for Dealing with Counterfeit and Malicious Hardware
A global economy, pressure on cost and schedule, and limited resources have changed the way that oversight is conducted in support of development, production, and sustainment programs today. While the prime contractor for an aerospace and defense program may be based in the United States, its supply chain is truly global. Beyond programs for the U.S. government or U.S. companies, many foreign contracts require the use of domestic vendors and suppliers in support of the project. This further complicates the ability of companies to verify the integrity of items provided to them. On the commercial front, the move to outsourcing maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) work has limited the oversight of companies contracting the work as well as those agencies responsible for overseeing the adherence to requirements, such as the FAA. Considering the growing reliance on foreign vendors and MRO companies to provide hardware, software, and maintenance services, the impact on safety, reliability and national security implications must be addressed.
Supporting an Evolving and Adaptive Cybersecurity Policy
The ever-changing nature of cyber threats creates an urgent need for an evolving and adaptive cybersecurity policy to address these challenges. Countless cyber attacks are launched against the United States on a daily basis. The amount of information in cyberspace, and the number of entry points into critical infrastructure, continue to grow at exponential rates. At the same time, critical national assets are either protected by antiquated security measures or are failing to consider future threats as new projects are conceived and brought on line. The need for a secure and reliable cyberspace has never been more critical. It is more important now than ever before to fully implement a cybersecurity policy that addresses current system shortcomings and provides for the ability to adapt to future threats.
Establishing and Sustaining Robust DOD Science and Technology R&D Funding
In the Aerospace and Defense (A&D) world, it can often take years for technology to mature beyond “blue sky” concepts to functional, deployable systems. As a result, it is critical that the programs born into this environment do not have their success undermined by a system whose funding can vary widely from year to year. Only by establishing and sustaining a robust level of funding for DoD science and technology research and development (R&D), can the impact of these fluctuations be reduced in the already volatile world of R&D.
Legislative & Regulatory Action
To amend the Arms Export Control Act to provide that certain firearms listed as curios or relics may be imported into the United States by a licensed importer without obtaining authorization from the Department of State or the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.
Homeland Security Cyber and Physical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2011
Cybersecurity Education Enhancement Act of 2011–1/5/2011
25 February 2009
Robert Dickman, AIAA Executive Director, testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology concerning the impacts of U.S. export control policies on science and technology activities and competitiveness.