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Bringing the "Think Tank" to the Battlespace




Technology Domain Awareness

…the development and proliferation of more advanced military technologies by other nations means that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space can no longer be taken for granted.
Given these realities, we must now adapt, innovate, and make difficult decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable – maintaining its technological edge over all potential adversaries.

The Honorable Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense
Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Preview (delivered February 24, 2014)

Technology Domain Awareness (TDA) is the effective understanding of the technology landscape as it relates to current and future defense capability needs.

It is predicated on timely, relevant, and accurate knowledge of the “technology commons” – those areas where global leadership in technology development and application are increasingly spread across multiple nations and non-state interests.  As defense-relevant innovations increasingly occur in commercial markets, the IACs’ TDA efforts seek to expand awareness and application of commercial and non-government investments to enable better, cheaper, and faster Defense capability development. 

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s 3 September remarks at a DOD conference touted “groundbreaking change” in the commercial sector, in the areas of robotics, advanced computing, miniaturization, and 3D printing and he went on to say, “DOD must be able to access which commercial innovations have military potential, rapidly adopt them, adapt them, and then test and refine them, including through war-gaming and demonstrations.”

The IACs’ TDA initiative is focused on answering that call.  Built on a foundation of 65 years’ experience providing information sharing and technology development, the IACs’ approach to providing TDA incorporates data, analysis, and tools to:

  • Identify and harness synergistic efficiencies within the DOD and USG to develop joint capabilities based on shared lessons-learned from programs and operational engagements (including rapid innovation activities undertaken by DoD in recent years);

  • Collaborate on solving warfighter-centric challenges in ways that better frame the problem sets and the opportunities to solve them;

  • Properly engage technology markets (traditional and non-traditional) to offset costs and innovate ahead of the threat.

The IACs’ TDA initiative supports efforts to reduce acquisition cost and increase innovation velocity by reusing legacy defense capabilities to improve return on investment and leveraging commercial and non-government R&D investments as a basis for new capabilities.  TDA is focused on ensuring our technology development efforts keep pace with the rapidly evolving threat environment by 1) providing a collaborative platform for addressing multi-stakeholder challenges through joint projects and 2) acting as a hub for TDA knowledge development, assessment, and dissemination. As an initial use case for TDA, the IACs have partnered with the Joint Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to execute a Counter IED Knowledge Preservation (CIED-KP) effort that seeks to preserve and promulgate data, lessons learned, and tools from the JIEDDO-led counter-IED campaign.   Furthermore, the IACs have forward-deployed field representatives within the Combatant Commands to increase the proximity between problem sets and potential solutions available through IAC technologists and subject matter experts.

The TDA approach is being built into every new project the IACs undertake.  For additional information on TDA, contact us.

Technology Domain Awareness - bringing commercial sector innovation to the nation's defense.

Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) Memo

Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) sent a memo, co-signed by Mr. Alan Shaffer, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering ASD(R&E), identifying the Department of Defense (DoD) Information Analysis Centers (IACs) contracts as "best value vehicles" and conveying to requirements officers and contracting officers across DoD to consider the IACs as "vehicles of first choice."

The memo encourages the utilization of DoD IACs to the maximum extent practicable for technical research and analysis requirements. The DoD IACs serve as an essential resource to affordably deliver technical data and analyses in support of current operations. 

The Pentagon has recognized that the DoD IACs "serve as a proven resource for maximizing the value of each dollar the Department spends," precisely because of the DoD IACs' ability to maximize reuse by building upon previous research, development, and other technical information.
Click here to read the full memo

Technology Domain Awareness: Building the Defense Innovation Base

The Georgetown Security Studies Review recently published a peer-reviewed article, “Building the Defense Innovation Base” on Technology Domain Awareness (TDA) and its role in delivering defense innovation.

The article outlines the innovation imperative facing the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and details current and future plans pursued by the DOD Information Analysis Centers (IACs) to develop a defense innovation operating system that sustains the United States' military-technology edge in the face of persistent operational, technological, and fiscal challenges.
Click here to read the full article. The IAC article begins on page 33.

Defense Energy Summit (DES) and Innovation Showcase

Christopher Zember, Director DoD IACs, was a keynote speaker at the Defense Energy Summit (DES) and Innovation Showcase in Austin, TX on 11 November 2014. Mr. Zember discussed clean energy and infrastructure solutions for the DOD and introduced the DES stakeholders and working groups to the Technology Domain Awareness (TDA) initiative.


Click here to view the powerpoint presentation

DES Website

A New Defense Innovation Base

In this first of three articles, we explore the underlying factors and goals underwriting the TDA mission to develop a robust defense innovation base that cooperatively aligns the non-defense research and development (R&D) marketplace with emerging defense capability needs.

"On today’s battlefields, the Department of Defense (DoD) must contend not only with the friction and fog of tactical engagements, but also with the complexities of a threat environment in constant technological flux. Against this backdrop, innovation fueled by commercial market forces in places like Silicon Valley has come to play an increasingly decisive role. Recognizing the opportunities and challenges of the contemporary innovation environment, the DoD Information Analysis Centers (IACs) are undertaking a new initiative called Technology Domain Awareness (TDA), which uses knowledge of the global technology commons to create a resilient defense technology enterprise that fully incorporates the high tech outputs of the commercial marketplace."
Click here to read the full article "A New Defense Innovation Base."

Innovation Warfare: Technology Domain Awareness and America's Military Edge

In this second of three articles, we dive deeper into our discussion of Technology Domain Awareness (TDA)--which involves the creation of new and expanded channels for defense-relevant collaborative innovation--which will be crucial to the U.S. maintaining and extending its decisive military-technology edge

"The genie is out of the bottle. Today, global commercial markets increasingly set the pace for advanced technology innovation. Enter Technology Domain Awareness (TDA), a defense innovation concept that uses knowledge of the technology commons to incorporate the high tech outputs of the commercial marketplace into defense applications . The global R&D marketplace represents both an unprecedented threat and an unprecedented opportunity to the DOD.  Defense-relevant technology innovations from commercial industry and the academic research community are a viable means to offset defense acquisition costs, distribute technology-related risk, and accelerate innovation."
Click here to read the full article "Innovation Warfare: Technology Domain Awareness and America's Military Edge."

Incubating Defense Innovation - AUSA Brief

Click here to view the full briefing presented at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Expo on 14 October 2014 which provides an overview of the TDA initiative.

Federal News Radio Interview

microphone Federal New Radio Interview: DoD IACs &Technology Domain Awareness--Christopher Zember (Director, DoD IACs) and Jay Harrison (Director, Center for Smart Defense at West Virginia University) describe a new set of initiatives designed to access "outside innovation" (from commercial and non-defense markets) for defense capability development.

Examples of IACs increasing technology domain awareness

Below are IAC examples which highlight the program's ability to support the technology domain awareness initiative.


Vehicle Occupant Protection from IED Blasts - The DoD IACs improved occupant survivability, adapting motorsports design lessons to military ground vehicles. Modern race cars allow drivers to survive horrific crashes, while the cars remain light weight. Lessons implemented included occupant impulse loading analysis, controlled deformable seat mounts, and shock transmission analysis. Benefits included lives saved, weight reduction, and better fuel consumption.

DoD IACs Power for Tactical Edge Operations -  The DoD IACs evaluated and validated commercially-derived hybrid power solutions, in order to develop and deliver innovative solutions such as thin, flexible, high efficiency solar technology and various light, mobile, soldier-worn power modules. Benefits at one installation site included 60% reduction in fuel consumption, resulting in four fewer helicopter resupply missions per week.
DoD IACs Sensors to Better Understand Traumatic Brain Injuries - The DoD IACs developed an Integrated Blast Sensor Suite (IBESS) from commercially derived sensors and data acquisition technologies to provide an integrated capability that measures blast exposure at both the vehicle and soldier level and records data to better understand blast injuries. Benefits include correlating soldiers' blast exposure with their medical records to develop and deliver improved TBI treatment.
DoD IACs Optimization of Missile Warning Algorithms - The DoD IACs leveraged multiple objective evolutionary algorithms from academia, which mimic the selection, mating, and mutation behaviors of plant and animal evolution, to increase the probability of detection and reduce the false alarm rate of the system. These methods do not functionally change the software but optimize existing algorithm settings to find the best performance. Resulted in 60% improvement in probability of detection and 80% improvement in false alarm rate at extremely low cost.
DoD IAcs Distributed Common Ground Sensors Provide Innovations in Situational Awareness - The DoD IACs quickly incorporated technologically ready components into a lightweight, ergonomic, energy efficient system known as DCGS-A Display Device (D3), and its associated communications and collection software application, Lighthouse. The D3 project improved soldier situational awareness, force protection, and highlighted the capability to integrate technologically ready components to meet the needs of any battlefield. The D3 has demonstrated its ability to identify the enemy in an environment where he or she could be concealed within the general population.
DoD IAcs Fast Tint Protective Eyewear Providing Rapid Prototyping of an Essential Tool - The DoD IACs provided core science and technology research to develop a liquid crystal display (LCD) fast tinting lens that automatically senses and changes its tint based on lighting conditions. Aided in establishing an organic manufacturing capability for development and production. Built the first prototype, performed testing, and provided analysis for user requirements. As compared to a COTS transition lens change taking three to five minutes, the transition between shades of the FTPE occurs at the speed of 1/10th of a second.