The objective of IR&D policy is to support the emergence of transformative defense technologies in the absence of a traditional market. However, some recently-proposed changes to IR&D policy call for increased oversight procedures, sparking considerable debate over just how “independent” such research efforts should be. Indeed, there is legitimate concern that the policy changes could stifle private-sector innovation by derailing promising lines of research that may have significant, if not clearly discernable, defense applications.
These changes come at a time in which the nation faces new challenges that jeopardize its superiority, demanding a renewed commitment to innovation generally. These challenges include adversary adaptation, budgetary constraints, and the loss of domestic technical capabilities.