02.1 DOD Funding for Basic Research

Department of Defense investments in research and development have paid very high significant dividends since the end of the Second World War. In recent decades, the high-tech capability of the United States has been key to achieving military objectives, managing overseas conflicts, and carrying out humanitarian operations rapidly at large scale, and has played an important role in economic development. However, current defense research funding trends do not bode well for continued civilian and military benefits in the decades to come. For example, today's array of military technologies - including precision munitions, global positioning systems, Stealth and night-vision-were the result of a long-term DOD commitment to basic and applied research, carried out under the "6.1" and "6.2" programs. These programs, which draw heavily on the talents of the university community, have remained essentially flat in constant dollars, even as the technological advantage that the American military has relied on over several decades has contracted. This funding pattern places the U.S. competitive advantage at risk. Numbers are only one part of the story. For some time, defense policies have had the effect of reclassifying projects from one R&D category to another: development (6.3) relabeled as applied research (6.2) and applied research relabeled as basic research (6.1). In the interests of future national security, this trend must be reversed. Tomorrow's military capabilities depend heavily on the R&D choices the public makes today. Investments in the 6.1 and 6.2 programs are the seed corn for future civilian and defense technologies and must be increased. Long-term basic research programs must not be sacrificed for short-term expediency.

Adopted by the Council on April 19, 2002
Category: National Policy

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APS Statements are public policy statements that undergo a meticulous process of draft and review, including receiving comments from APS members, before being voted on by APS Council at one of its semiannual meetings.

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