No doubt about it, this is era of partisanship and in some instances, rancor, on Capitol Hill. 

The author finds it interesting that the Congressional Caucus remains one shining instance of bipartisanship, where House of Representative and Senate members across the political aisle continue to work toward advancing MS&T. Of significance to the S&T industry and its end-users, Congress continues to eye the use of these technology learning enablers in and beyond the defense sector – into safety critical training in many cases. And make no mistake that caucus members, in many instances, are also seeking to upend the stodgy federal bureaucracy – actions that have important implications for the defense MS&T enterprise, from suppliers through end users. 

Not for Defense Only

Rep. Bobby Scott (Virginia), initially pointed out some of the M&S enablers in use at public and private organizations in his district. Some of the many current and evolving M&S centers of excellence in the district include Virginia Modeling Analysis Simulation Center at Old Dominion University and Newport News Shipyard. These sites supplement the training and education programs at military bases and stations throughout the Hampton Roads region. The legislative veteran also called attention to a cascading number of federal government infrastructure programs advancing and relying on M&S beyond the military market. As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, M&S is being used to improve traffic systems and engineering, and in the Chips and Science Act, the technologies are being used to support the supply chain and in then to support clean-energy design. Under the general title of workforce development, Scott pointed out the US House passed the Apprenticeship Act which expands the program beyond traditional trades and into adjacent M&S fields, including healthcare and technology. 

Congressman Darren Soto (Florida), provided the imperative to properly train US military forces “to make sure they have readiness – and also to help us save money.” On cue, the Orlando regional House member pointed to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts as cases which build the case for trained and ready US service men and -women. When necessary, Soto noted sending hardware to allies sometimes has a concurrent training commitment for that nation’s operators and others.   

Congressman Jack Bergman (Michigan) may leave I/ITSEC with delegates noting and using his guiding “Five Is” – not to be confused with the alliance of nations with the same title: interactions and decision making; identifying Integrity; Intent; Innovation; and Intensity. This short list was a segue into his core political beliefs. He said in one case, these “five Is should be applied to what you are all doing here. The challenge that we have as members of Congress is to ensure that we don’t overburden you as innovators with unnecessary hoops to jump through, and those are largely from bureaucracies because their job is to create hoops”                      

Q&A Topics

Following the members’ opening remarks, they responded to audience questions. Topics on the mind of 2023 I/ITSEC attendees significantly included the future of AI, balancing the budget and the impact of fiscal turmoil on the defense S&T sector, and risks to national security.   

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