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Budgetary impacts on contested environment operations, especially in the area of research, development and acquisition are a major concern for Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

“We have significant and increasing instability worldwide,” Shyu told attendees in a keynote address at the 2015 Space & Missile Defense Symposium on Aug. 11. “Our fiscal environment is always terrible and we are on a downward trend.”

The challenge, she said, is balancing priorities to enable full-spectrum operations in contested environments.

Cyber cartels are a real threat, Shyu said.

“The increase in cyber threats is not just here, but in all friendly nations,” she said. “It’s a growing threat we have to face.”

Electronic protection is important more than ever, she said.

“You cannot assume … that nobody else is going to jam you,” Shyu said. “Somebody may deny you access to information or produce false information. That’s very likely when we’re fighting in a more contested environment.”

That means technology to keep aircrafts operational through jammed communications and whiteout, or brownout scenarios, is important. She also wants to see a seamless integration of active and passive capabilities.

“We have to win the fight in all environments,” Shyu said.

She said $15 billion in cuts between fiscal years 2012 and 2015 has led to $7 billion cut from FY 2012 to FY 2015 in the RDA budget. It is difficult, she said, because the rapid proliferation of technology allows other countries to get their hands on U.S. technology, at a reduced cost.

“The price of peace is increasing,” Shyu said. “We need to spend more money on RDA.”

It’s been a struggle to balance the budget, she said, noting for the past three years, she has crafted two budgets, including one for potential sequestration.

“We’re dealing with a highly unstable geopolitical environment, terrorism, extremism and at the time, gridlock in Congress,” she said. “This is a time when sequestration is the law of the land … and it’s painful.”

Sequestration impacts contractors, who retire or seek other corporate jobs because of financial instability concerns, which impacts all RDA areas.

Yet the focus must remain on how to modernize with a declining budget, Shyu said.

“We have to increase mobility, survivability and lethality through incremental upgrades to current platforms,” she said. “We must develop critical new capabilities and innovate the next generation of capabilities.”

That means divesting aging systems to reduce operation and maintenance costs.

“We’ve got garages full of stuff and we’re going to clean it out,” she said. “We’re going through every portfolio to decide what to get rid of.”

She also stressed the importance of modernizing missile defense despite tight budgets. An example includes the Patriot upgrades. With adversaries acquiring more missiles with better capabilities, she said the Patriot Missile Segment Enhanced can’t be produced fast enough.

 “It provides much higher altitude, much longer range,” Shyu said. As a result, “this is a missile that is in high demand across the different COCOMs today.”

Then, there’s resetting and sustaining equipment used in combat.

“We must incrementally upgrade existing platforms, buy back, weight and power,” Shyu said. “We’re looking at additional capabilities, whether it’s in aviation or combat vehicles.”

That’s why she fights to keep the science and technology budget in tact.

“It’s like seed conservation,” she said. “If we eat it today, we won’t have anything in 20 years.”

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