APA Testimony on Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations for the Department of Defense

Oral Testimony of William J. Strickland, PhD
On behalf of the American Psychological Association

Submitted May 24, 2006 to the
United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Defense
The Honorable Ted Stevens, Chairman

Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations for the Department of Defense

Conflict is, and will remain, essentially a human activity in which man's virtues of judgment, discipline and courage - the moral component of fighting power - will endure…It is difficult to imagine military operations that will not ultimately be determined through physical control of people, resources and terrain - by people…Implicit, is the enduring need for well-trained, well-equipped and adequately rewarded soldiers. New technologies will, however, pose significant challenges to the art of soldiering: they will increase the soldier's influence in the battlespace over far greater ranges, and herald radical changes in the conduct, structures, capability and ways of command. Information and communication technologies will increase his tempo and velocity of operation by enhancing support to his decision-making cycle. Systems should be designed to enable the soldier to cope with the considerable stress of continuous, 24-hour, high-tempo operations, facilitated by multi-spectral, all-weather sensors. However, technology will not substitute human intent or the decision of the commander. There will be a need to harness information-age technologies, such that data does not overcome wisdom in the battlespace, and that real leadership - that which makes men fight - will be amplified by new technology. Essential will be the need to adapt the selection, development and training of leaders and soldiers to ensure that they possess new skills and aptitudes to face these challenges.

                                                                                                                     NATO RTO-TR-8, Land Operations in the Year 2020

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I'm Dr. Bill Strickland, former Director of Human Resources Research for the Air Force and current Vice President of the Human Resources Research Organization. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA), a scientific and professional organization of more than 150,000 psychologists and affiliates.

Although I am sure you are aware of the large number of psychologists providing clinical services to our military members and their families here and abroad, you may be less familiar with the extraordinary range of research conducted by psychological scientists within the Department of Defense. Our behavioral researchers work on issues critical to national defense, with support from the Army Research Institute and Army Research Laboratory; the Office of Naval Research; the Air Force Research Laboratory; and additional, smaller human systems research programs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, DARPA, the Marine Corps, and the Special Operations Command.

In FY06, the Administration requested $10.52 billion for defense science and technology, a huge cut from FY05. Congressional appropriators in turn provided a significant increase, to a total of $13.24 billion. For FY07, the President's budget request of $11.08 billion for DoD S&T again falls short - the request for basic and applied defense research represents a 16.3% decrease from the enacted FY06 level. We ask for the Appropriations Subcommittee's help in restoring critical defense research funding.

APA joins the Coalition for National Security Research, a group of over 40 scientific associations and universities, in urging the Subcommittee to reverse this cut. APA requests a total of $13.40 billion for Defense S&T. This would maintain DoD spending on applied (6.2 and 6.3 level) research and support a 10% increase for basic (6.1) defense research in FY07, as recommended in the National Academies report Rising Above the Gathering Storm.

Total spending on behavioral and cognitive research - in other words, human-centered research - within DoD also has declined again in the President's FY07 Budget. The Senate Armed Services Committee also has proposed cutting human-centered research in the FY07 Defense Authorization - as one example, the authorizers recommend cutting by a third a Navy research program on human factors.

This research, in the broad categories of personnel, training and leader development; warfighter protection, sustainment and physical performance; system interfaces and cognitive processing; and intelligence-related processes such as detection of deception, is absolutely critical to national security and it is critical that DoD sponsor it directly. As DoD noted in its own Report to the Senate Appropriations Committee, "military knowledge needs are not sufficiently like the needs of the private sector that retooling behavioral, cognitive and social science research carried out for other purposes can be expected to substitute for service-supported research, development, testing, and evaluation…our choice, therefore, is between paying for it ourselves and not having it." In today's environment, who would knowingly choose to live without research that enhances the recruiting, selecting, training, and retaining of the fighting force required to operate, maintain, and support the advanced weapons systems that we are procuring today?

We urge you to support the men and women on the front lines by reversing another round of dramatic, detrimental cuts to both the overall defense S&T account and more specifically, the human-oriented research programs within the military laboratories.