On 30 November 2011, Mr. Jean D. Reed, currently a research fellow at the National Defense University's Center for Technology and National Security Policy and former Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical Biological Defense and Chemical Demilitarization (DATSD(CBD/CD)), spoke on the Georgia Tech campus on the topic of emerging challenges for US national security today and for the future.
In discussing the evolving world and the role that emerging technologies and changing threats play in defense strategy and planning, Reed noted the importance of research and development â" both supported by the DoD and that executed by the private sector. He discussed a number of emerging technology capabilities that the DoD is pursuing and highlighted areas of increasing importance: nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and the cognitive neurosciences.
How these emerging technologies effect and intersect with major geopolitical trends was a central theme of his discussion. Citing the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a major policy document produced every four years by the Defense Department, he noted the rise of states like China and India, which are both reshaping the world and which affect the US national security postures. Second, he highlighted the continued growth of non-state actors participating in the international system and the increased ease of access to advanced technologies. Third, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, not just nuclear but biological as well, remains a significant driver for defense science and technology. Finally the rising demand for resources, urbanization, climate change, and other geopolitical issues are expected to have impacts on the international system and US national security. All of these factors contribute to the Defense Department's analysis and policies in response to emerging and future threats and challenges. The confluence of these trends with rapid social, cultural, technological, and geopolitical changes likely will present a great uncertainty, especially when understood in context with the unprecedented speed and scale of change, and this will make more difficult the creation of responsive security policies.
Reed also spoke to the importance for national security of young people studying science and technology. He noted the declining supply of science and engineering talent within the Defense Department and the imperative to bring in younger people to continue the world-class scientific and engineering work of the DOD.
In an on-going example of cross-campus collaboration, this event was funded through the GT FIRE program on "Educating a Biotechnology Policy & Security Workforce" for the development of new educational approaches at the intersection of biotechnology, policy, and security. The program is co-led by Assistant Professor Margaret E. Kosal (Sam Nunn School of International Affairs)and Professor Rob Butera (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering).