Vanguard Magazine

Feb/Mar 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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S Science & Technology NeW kNoWleDGe Expanding the discovery of defence science over the past two years, Defence Research and Development canada has seen considerable change to its budget, personnel and programs. Recent investments to its infrastructure and a flurry of requests to industry for information and proposals, however, point to an organization with a new focus. marc fortin, assistant deputy minister for science and technology with national Defence, spoke with editor chris Thatcher about priorities and expanded partnerships. Q Put the recent cuts into context: How much has the organization had to change? Hercules Observer Trainer or HOT version 2 was developed by DRDC and installed at CFB Trenton. The HOT is used to train Load Masters to detect threats to the aircraft can be configured in the future to train observers in air to air refuelling or search and rescue. Photo: Jim Clark, DRDC 24 FeBRUARy/MARch 2013 A lot of the context is clearly the changing tempo of operations. Canada has been in Afghanistan for about 10 years and DRDC was asked to change our work to focus more on the immediate – the questions and pressures for which the Canadian Forces needed answers. In those 10 years there has also been fantastic advances in science and technology. New technologies have appeared on the market, either as threats for which we have to prepare the Canadian Forces or new technologies that provide new capabilities to the CF. Because of the pressures of the last 10 years, we spent more of our effort answering the immediate, but we need to maintain a balance with the long-term work and new technologies. We've also seen operations that are more complex simply because of the whole-of-government approach where we need to take into account other departments, other factors, other players. The complexity of the environment has increased. This is a time where we need more S&T than ever before. Do we need the same S&T we used to do 10-20 years ago? No. Our programs need to be very dynamic. We have to keep taking signals from the outside in terms of S&T, signals from the inside in terms of requirements, and continually tweak our programs. For example, in the context of what the government was asking us to do, which is to be smaller, we have assessed every portfolio in DRDC. And in some areas we had no choice but to conclude that the technology area was more mature and there was enough S&T capacity in Canada amongst our partners to meet the Forces requirements. Take conventional radars: there are significant industrial partners that can provide radar S&T and platforms. We need to adjust our expertise to be more focused on cutting edge new advances in radar technology. It is the same with UAVs: there are now many suppliers of unmanned systems as a platform. We need to scale back our work and refocus it on signal integration, on sensors. So as industrial capability improves, we need to continually shift our programs. Of course, the Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP) has put pressure on us to sharpen our pencils. It is not entirely a bad thing. It was a time for us to take a hard look at our programs. We also needed to take stock of government policy, the COTS and MOTS (commercial and military offthe-shelf) policies, and think carefully about

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