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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances 1 Technology Warning: Motivation and Challenge INTRODUCTION In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. populace is increasingly aware of the challenge of intelligence gathering, analysis, and forecasting. Those involved with such activities, working for the most part anonymously, are performing a service that is critical to the continuance of this nation’s freedom. Recent events clearly illustrate the need for timely and accurate intelligence to aid tactical and operational planning for military operations as well as to support planning efforts related to homeland security. In this report, the committee focuses on the strategic issue of technology warning as it relates to military operations. Because U.S. military strength is built on a foundation of technological superiority, the ability of the U.S. intelligence apparatus to warn of evolving technologies that, in the hands of adversaries, may threaten U.S. military capabilities is vital to the ability of the nation’s leadership to make informed decisions. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and its satellite nations were a central focus of the intelligence community (IC). That era seems in retrospect to have been a much simpler time with respect to the development and application of technology to national security missions. The possibility of technological surprise was always present, as evidenced by the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957, but step functions in enemy warfighter capabilities were often anticipated in time to take countering steps. That is not to say there were not enormous technological advances during the post-World War II era. Significant developments during the past 50 years that had direct implications for national security included stealth technology, improvement in target identification, precision weaponry, the information technology revolution, and the birth of the Internet. Even though the ongoing information revolution is driven primarily by the commercial marketplace and is global in scope, the U.S. military has to date successfully maintained a technological edge over its adversaries. Rather than dealing with the relatively monolithic threat posed by the former Soviet Union, the United States now confronts a future of potential threats from many nation-states, as well as threats from extra- and transnational entities whose identities and allegiances are diffuse and complex—and whose technological prowess is enabled by globalization. These threats have also broadened in scope from conventional military threats to those also endangering civilian populations and economic targets.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances The effect on the intelligence community has been dramatic. Not only must it deal with the complexity and diversity of these new threats, but it also must deal with a dynamic global environment in terms of technology development and exploitation. U.S. technological leadership cannot be assumed in the future. STUDY ORIGIN In full recognition of the reality that U.S. technological leadership can no longer be assumed, in the fall of 2003 the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) requested a series of meetings with National Research Council (NRC) staff members in the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences to determine if a relationship was possible that would provide access not only to members of the National Academies and the nonmember technical community but also to the research community throughout the nation’s universities and laboratories. The objective of the DIA was not intelligence gathering per se, but rather the development of a new source of information on burgeoning technologies and their potential for “technology surprise,” with attendant military ramifications. In particular, the Technology Warning Division of the DIA recognized the potential value of ongoing engagement with the nation’s technical communities in fulfilling its responsibility to “provide the earliest possible warning of technological developments that could undermine U.S. military preeminence” (DIA, 2004). There were many issues to be overcome in order to establish the viable relationship that the DIA sought. The first concern of NRC staff members was security. It was assumed at the outset that much of the activity would necessarily be conducted at high levels of classification. The National Academies through the National Research Council can perform classified work and often does, but it is always the NRC’s objective to serve the public while conducting the work of the Academies, and excessive classification can interfere with the openness sought. To the surprise of the committee chair and staff, a meeting with the director of the DIA shortly after formation of the committee dispelled the notion that the committee’s work would necessarily be classified. While some activities of the committee might be classified, the director wanted the majority of the effort unclassified so as to facilitate sharing and collaboration between the intelligence community and the scientific and technical communities. Upon receipt of a contract, the current 1-year ad hoc committee—the Committee on Defense Intelligence Agency Technology Forecasts and Reviews—was formed to conduct meetings with the intelligence community to study issues relating to technology warning. The committee was tasked to produce a report that discusses capabilities upon which U.S. warfighters are dependent and to identify the potential for adversaries to threaten those capabilities through the exploitation of evolving technologies. Technologies to be considered were to include not only those emerging from research establishments, but also potential adversarial capabilities that could arise from innovative integration or the application of existing technologies. It was recognized from the outset that the present report would be somewhat general in nature with respect to the depth and breadth of technical analyses. It was the objective of both the DIA and the NRC that this first report would establish the foundation for a long-term relationship to support the examination of technology warning issues, not only for the DIA but also for other members of the intelligence community who might need such analyses. It is intended that the current ad hoc committee be disbanded subsequent to the publication of this report and that a standing committee be formed to work with the IC to keep abreast of issues relating to technology warning and to develop specific statements of task for independent ad hoc committees of the NRC to perform.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances GLOBALIZATION IS RESHAPING THE TECHNOLOGY PLAYING FIELD A recent report by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) observed: “We see globalization—growing interconnectedness reflected in the expanded flows of information, technology, capital, goods, services, and people throughout the world—as an overarching ‘mega-trend,’ a force so ubiquitous that it will substantially shape all the other major trends in the world of 2020” (NIC, 2004). While globalization has been underway for several decades, its intensity and pervasiveness have now greatly increased in magnitude and pace; the technology playing field is undergoing a massive change. Technology research and development (R&D), historically dominated by the United States, is increasingly distributed throughout the world. While the United States continued to lead the world in R&D spending in 2002, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),1 other nations’ shares are changing dramatically as they seek to boost economic performance and enhance global competitiveness. Figure 1-1 illustrates the relative shares of R&D spending in 2002 (AAAS, 2004a). While the United States continues to dominate other nations of the world in terms of total R&D spending, comparisons of R&D spending as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) provide a different picture. The United States lags Japan in total R&D as a percentage of GDP (2.67 percent versus 3.12 percent in 2002) as well as in business R&D (1.87 percent versus 2.32 percent in 2002). Between 1995 and 2002, China doubled its spending on R&D when calculated as a percentage of GDP (1.2 percent in 2002). During that same period, Israel increased its spending from 2.74 percent to 4.72 percent of GDP, a ratio higher than that of any other OECD nation. Many countries have set long-term, stable targets for increasing R&D spending, with Austria aiming for 2.5 percent of GDP by 2006, Germany targeting 3 percent by 2010, and the United Kingdom targeting 2.5 percent by 2014. Canada has set a goal of being among the top five investors in R&D among OECD countries, and Korea has committed to doubling its R&D investment between 2003 and 2007 (OECD, 2004b). These trends are indicative not only of the growing importance that nations are placing on R&D but also of prospective challenges to U.S. technological leadership. The long-term commitment of other countries to basic high-technology research funding is particularly significant. Additional indicators may be derived from the increasingly global distribution of science and engineering talent as nations increase the capacity and quality of their higher-education systems and entice their citizenry to stay home or to return from studies abroad to serve growing national economies and research enterprises. In 1999, 13 nations (United Kingdom, Finland, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, France, Spain) outranked the United States in the ratio of first university degrees in the natural sciences and engineering to the 24-year-old population, while in 1975 the United States ranked third (NSB, 2003). Forces relating to globalization inevitably led U.S. corporations to outsource R&D in order to take advantage of the distributed expertise, but also to help gain entry to foreign markets. In particular, U.S. companies are leveraging research capabilities in countries such as Israel, Sweden, India, and Taiwan (Bromley, 2004). Some U.S. companies take advantage of foreign research establishments, such as the Motorola collaboration with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.2 Others establish their own research facilities, such as the Microsoft Research laboratories in Beijing, China; 1 The OECD nations are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States. 2 See, for example, http://www.hkstp.org/english/university/university.html. Last accessed on February 11, 2005.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances FIGURE 1-1 Shares of total world R&D, 2003 (as adapted from “Main Science and Technology Indicators: Volume 2004 Issue 2; Principaux indicateurs de la science et de la technologie: Volume 2004-2,” © OECD, 2004). SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from AAAS (2004a). ©AAAS, 2005. Bangalore, India; and Cambridge, United Kingdom (Microsoft, 2002). Based on such trends, it is clear that multinational corporations in high-technology commercial sectors will be less and less able to confine technological advances to any one nation. COMMERCIALIZATION IS CHANGING THE TEMPO OF TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION Many have observed the growing importance of commercial technologies to the defense establishment. Harvard University Professor Ashton Carter contrasted the defense technologies of the Cold War era with those of the future, as shown in Table 1-1. A variety of factors are driving this changing nature of defense technology. The U.S. defense establishment recognized many years ago the benefits of “dual-use” technologies, and it provided
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances TABLE 1-1 The Changing Nature of Defense Technology Cold War ⇒ Future Defense Technology Defense Technology Originates in defense technology base ⇒ Originates in commercial technology base that is embedded in defense companies ⇒ that is embedded in commercially driven companies residing in the United States ⇒ that are global for which defense is main driver. ⇒ for which defense is niche player. SOURCE: Excerpted from Carter et al. (2000). TABLE 1-2 The Nature of Innovation Is Changing From To Invention Innovation Linear innovation model Dynamic innovation mode Build to forecasted demand Sense and respond to demand Independent Interdependent Single discipline Multiple discipline Product functions Value to customer Local R&D teams Globalized 24×7 R&D teams SOURCE: COC (2004). Reprinted with permission from the Council on Competitiveness. funding to stimulate the development of such technologies.3 In other areas, such as information technologies, significant drivers stem from the commercial marketplace, which, as discussed above, is increasingly global. The fact is that defense capabilities are increasingly dependent on innovations developed by commercial companies for the commercial market in many sectors, including telecommunications, aerospace, microelectronics, data processing, cryptography, special materials, biotechnology, and propulsion (DSB, 1999). What this shift means is that the U.S. defense establishment is no longer in the driver’s seat with regard to militarily relevant technological innovation. While U.S. technological advances in areas such as stealth technologies and satellite imagery once afforded multidecade military advantage, the rapid pace of technological innovation driven by the global commercial marketplace is shifting the advantage to those who rapidly adopt, exploit, and integrate evolving technologies. While defense-specific investments will continue to spawn important technological advances, U.S. technological superiority is no longer assured. Small, research-seeded start-ups are of special importance in the generation of high-technology ideas and products. A recent report published by the Council on Competitiveness observes the acceleration of technological innovation as measured by market penetration. “It took the automobile 100 years to penetrate 50% of the global market. It took the telephone 75 years and electricity took 50 years. By comparison, the rise of cell phones, for example, has been nothing less than meteoric—faster than the personal computer—faster than the Internet” (COC, 2004). The report further observes that the nature of innovation is changing, as postulated in Table 1-2. 3 Dual-use technologies have both military utility and sufficient commercial potential to support a viable industrial base; see, for example, http://www.dtic.mil/dust/faq.htm. Last accessed on February 11, 2005.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances FIGURE 1-2 U.S. R&D funding by source, 1953–2003 (expenditures in billions of constant 2003 dollars). Data based on National Science Foundation’s Division of Science Resources Statistics. Available online at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/pubseri.cfm?TopID=8&SubID=6&SeriID=4. SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from AAAS (2004b). ©AAAS, 2004. Further indication that private-sector investment is driving technological innovation is provided in Figure 1-2, which shows the relative contributions to R&D funding by the U.S. government and the private sector from 1953 through 2003. Note that private-sector investment increased sharply during the 1990s, while government funding remained relatively flat. While private-sector spending was at least partially driven by the boom in information technologies, the ratio between government and private investments remains indicative of the trend toward technology commercialization. The profit motive and the associated availability of large amounts of investment capital result in the rapid commercialization of new technologies that are perceived by investors to address unmet market needs. This leads to, among other things, a very short interval between the first appearance of an advanced-technology-enabled operational capability and the time when it is a low-cost, widely available commodity. Flat-panel displays are a recent example; cellular phones are another.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances Looking to the future, the information revolution continues to fuel the synergistic trends of globalization and commercialization of technologies. As observed in a recent NIC report, “a nation’s level of technological achievement generally will be defined in terms of its investment in integrating and applying the new, globally available technologies—whether the technologies are acquired through a country’s own basic research or from technology leaders” (NIC, 2004). Thus, while patterns and trends in R&D investments provide useful indicators of the distributed research talent, the globalization of manufacturing facilities may indicate an equally important trend in distributing systems integration expertise. THE TECHNOLOGY WARNING CHALLENGE It is relatively easy to create a list of technologies that will have military significance in the coming years. It is far more difficult to identify those specific technologies that are potential “game-changers” in the hands of the nation’s enemies. And it is even more difficult to envision potential adversaries’ innovations that derive from multidisciplinary technology integration to yield disruptive capabilities. Yet this is the task levied on the “technology warning” organizations of the intelligence community. The technology warning challenge is further complicated by the fact that adversaries are not necessarily bound by the legal, moral, and ethical standards that govern the U.S. development and application of science and technology. This is particularly true in some areas of biological and genetic research. “As deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) manipulation becomes technologically and commercially viable, it has significant implications for both commercial and military uses that may not be pursued with equal fervor by all societies,” as noted by Brown (2003). It is arguably easier to be “surprised” by an adversary who is willing to employ technology-based capabilities that this nation would not consider using. A number of sources provide lists of technologies prioritized from different perspectives. Some lists focus on potential “disruptive” technologies that could have catastrophic consequences in the hands of U.S. adversaries, while others focus on technologies with significant commercial potential that could erode the U.S. technological edge. Three families of technologies that appear in some form on virtually every list are information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. The technology warning challenge, however, is to characterize more specifically the applications of these technologies that may jeopardize U.S. military advantage. The 2004 Strategic Planning Guidance calls for the U.S. military to better prepare for a wide range of challenges, including “irregular, catastrophic and disruptive threats.” Potentially disruptive technologies include “breakthroughs in sensors, information technology, biotechnology, miniaturization on the molecular level, and cyber operations—capabilities so spectacular they would quickly give an adversary an edge” (Sherman, 2005). The threat of surprise due to disruptive technology, while not seen as a near-term threat, is viewed as one to which the United States is most vulnerable—at least in part owing to the nation’s heavy reliance on technology-based military capabilities. A 2001 study sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency enlisted an external panel of experts that identified three tiers of technologies likely to impact national security by the 2015 time frame (OTI IA, 2001). Candidate technologies included those shown in Box 1-1. The definitions used by the panel are provided in Appendix C. The first-tier technologies, those most likely in the panel’s view to have the greatest impact, include gene therapy, wireless communications, image understanding, cloned or tailored organisms, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and nanotechnology. Second-tier technologies, those seen as dependent upon particularly vigorous innovation, include optical communications, regenerative medicine, efficient software development, sensor webs, and advanced materials. The panel concluded that third-tier technologies are likely to remain just below the threshold of steady adoption
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances BOX 1-1 Candidate Technologies Likely to Impact National Security by the 2015 Time Frame, Identified by a Panel of Experts First Tier: High-Impact Technologies Gene Therapy Wireless Communications Image Understanding Cloned or Tailored Organisms MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) Nanotechnology Second Tier Technologies Optical Communications Regenerative Medicine Efficient Software Development Sensor Webs Advanced Materials Third Tier: Below-Threshold Technologies Hypersonic/Supersonic Aircraft Next-Generation Space Shuttle System Alternative Energy Distributed Energy New-Generation Nuclear Power Plants Fuel Cells Other Technologies Considered Brain-Machine Interfaces “Smart” Materials (organic and inorganic) Distributed-Grid-Based Processing Systems Performance-Enhancing Drugs Multilingual Voice Recognition Molecular Electronics Ubiquitous Water Generation High-Power Lasers Directed Energy (Microwave) NOTE: See definitions of these technologies in Appendix C of this report. SOURCE: OTI IA (2001).
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances TABLE 1-3 Challenges Identified for the National Nanotechnology Initiative Time Frame Strategic Challenge Nano-now Pigments in paints Cutting tools and wear-resistant coatings Pharmaceuticals and drugs Nanoscale particles and thin films in electronic devices Jewelry, optical, and semiconductor wafer polishing Nano-2007 Biosensors, transducers, and detectors Functional designer fluids Propellants, nozzles, and valves Flame-retardant additives Drug delivery, biomagnetic separation, and wound healing Nano-2012 Nano-optical, nanoelectronics, and nanopower sources High-end flexible displays Nano-bio materials as artificial organs NEMS-based devices Faster switches and ultra-sensitive sensors NOTE: NEMS, nanoelectromechanical systems. SOURCE: NAE (2004). absent unforeseen market potential or government assistance; technologies in this category include hypersonic military and supersonic commercial aircraft, next-generation space shuttle system, alternative energy, distributed energy, new-generation nuclear power plants, and fuel cells (OTI IA, 2001). A recent National Academy of Engineering report (NAE, 2004) identifies a list of “breakthrough” technologies and/or applications that engineers will be expected to contend with by 2020. The list includes biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials science and photonics, information and communications technology, the information explosion, and logistics (NAE, 2004). Advances in nanotechnology will be driven at least in part through government investment in the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative, which budgeted nearly $1 billion in research and funding for fiscal year 2004. Strategic challenges identified for the National Nanotechnology Initiative are shown in Table 1-3. Yet another perspective is provided by a Web-based survey conducted by R&D Magazine in which readers were asked to choose five technologies that are expected to see rapid growth and high investments in 2005 (Studt, 2005). According to the survey, the top three technologies are fuel cells, nanotechnology, and antibioterrorism devices. More than 225 readers responded to the survey; in a separate question, nearly 60 percent of the respondents revealed that they had some involvement in the technologies that they selected (Studt, 2005). While derived from disparate sources, these lists of important technologies (as well as other lists shown to the committee) bear remarkable similarities in terms of the underlying technological foundations. So rather than creating yet another list of potentially important technologies for the technology warning community to track, the committee chose to establish a framework that would lend itself to the ongoing identification and prioritization of technologies in terms of their potential impact on the U.S. military’s operational capabilities. The committee’s framework and methodology are discussed in Chapter 2 of this report. Chapters 3 through 6 contain the committee’s initial assessments within specific technology areas, and Chapter 7 provides general recommendations and suggestions for the path ahead.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances LIMITATIONS OF THIS STUDY Although a 1-year contract was established to support the work of this ad hoc committee, only three 2-day meetings were convened. This schedule provided limited time for committee members to develop a common understanding of the DIA Technology Warning Division’s needs as well as to discern what the division already knows with respect to technologies of potential interest. Thus, this report contains some “tutorial” information, as well as commentary, relating more specifically to the technology warning challenge. In addition, due to the limited time available for analysis, committee members tended to address technologies with which they were personally familiar rather than attempting to rationalize selections from among the broad array of technologies of potential interest. This report therefore focuses on a few specific technologies and applications rather than attempting to provide a “complete” or prioritized list of important evolving technologies. Furthermore, the Technology Warning Division asked that the committee specifically exclude technologies relating to adversarial threats posed by weapons of mass destruction, since that topic is outside the division’s scope of responsibilities. It was acknowledged that such issues may be the subject of future studies, but in this report the coverage is, as requested, only notional. It is the committee’s intent that this report provide the framework and basis for an ongoing collaborative relationship between the intelligence community’s technology warning community and the National Research Council. Committee members are, however, mindful of the caution expressed by the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, which concluded that “U.S. intelligence will face more challenging adversaries, and even excellent intelligence will not prevent all surprises” (USCNS, 1999). REFERENCES AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). 2004a. U.S. Leads World in R&D Spending, China Moves to 3rd Place. Guide to R&D Funding Data—International Comparisons. Available online at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/guiintl.htm. Last accessed on February 8, 2005. AAAS. 2004b. Guide to R&D Funding Data—Total U.S. R&D (1953-2003). Available online at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/guitotal.htm. Last accessed on February 8, 2005. Bromley, D.A. 2004. Technology policy. Technology in Society 26(2/3):455-468. Brown, Michael E., ed. 2003. Grave New World: Security Challenges in the 21st Century. Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-87840-142-3. Carter, Ashton B., with Marcel Lettre and Shane Smith. 2000. Keeping the technological edge, pp. 127-162 in Keeping the Edge: Managing Defense for the Future. Ashton B. Carter and John P. White, eds. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. ISBN 0-9705414-0-6. COC (Council on Competitiveness). 2004. 21st Century Innovation Working Group. Innovation: The New Reality for National Prosperity: 21st Century Innovation Working Group Recommendations, Version 2.1. December 15. Available online at http://www.compete.org/docs/pdf/NII_21st_Century_Innovation%20Report.pdf. Last accessed on April 8, 2005. DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). 2004. Fact Sheets on Intelligence Agency Components. Washington, D.C. DSB (Defense Science Board). 1999. Final Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Globalization and Security. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, Washington, D.C. Available online at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/globalization.pdf. Last accessed on February 8, 2005. Microsoft Corporation. 2002. Meeting of the Minds: Microsoft Research Asia Conference Spurs Collaboration Among Region’s Researchers. Beijing, China. Available online at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2002/oct02/10-17msrasia.asp. Last accessed on February 8, 2005. NAE (National Academy of Engineering). 2004. The Engineer of 2020: Vision of Engineering in the New Century. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances NIC (National Intelligence Council). 2004. Mapping the Global Future. Government Printing Office, Pittsburgh, Pa. ISBN 0-16-073-218-2. NSB (National Science Board). 2003. The Science and Engineering Workforce—Realizing America’s Potential. Available online at http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/documents/2003/nsb0369/nsb0369.pdf. Last accessed February 7, 2004. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2004a. Main Science and Technology Indicators: Vol. 2004, Issue 2; Principaux indicateurs de la science et de la technologie: Vol. 2004-2. OECD. 2004b. OECD Countries Spend More on Research and Development, Face New Challenges. Available online at http://www.oecd.org/document/2/0,2340,en_2649_201185_34100162_1_1_1_1,00.html. Last accessed on February 7, 2005. OTI IA (Office of Transnational Issues, Intelligence Analysis). 2001. Global Technology Scenarios Through 2015: America’s Game to Lose. OTI-IA 2001-083. CIA Analytic Report. November. Sherman, Jason. 2005. More cuts to major weapons programs could be on the way in 2005 QDR. Inside the Air Force 16(1): 16-17. Studt, Tim. 2005. R&D’s hot technologies for 2005. Reed Business Information. Available online at http://www.rdmag.com/ShowPR.aspx?PUBCODE=014&ACCT=1400000100&ISSUE=0412&RELTYPE=PR&ORIGRELTYPE=CVS&PRODCODE=00000000&PRODLETT=BZ. Last accessed on February 7 USCNS (United States Commission on National Security/21st Century). 1999. New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, Major Themes and Implications: Phase I Report on the Emerging Global Security Environment for the First Quarter of the 21st Century, Washington, D.C. Available online at http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/nssg/Reports/NWC.pdf. Last accessed on April 8, 2005.
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