DOD to hire a ‘next G’ lead to focus on future of networks

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Heidi Shyu speaks to Defense Writers via zoom at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2022. (DoD photo by United States Marine Corps Sgt. Taryn Sammet)

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The Department of Defense plans to hire a “next G” lead in the coming months as it moves to think beyond just fifth generation wireless telecommunications tech, the department’s CTO said Thursday.

There is a candidate identified and in the process of being hired, but his name has not been internally announced, Heidi Shyu, the department’s top engineer, said. Shyu added that she wants the DOD to start investing in telecommunications generations six and seven already since the U.S. was caught flat footed on 5G, a strategic technology in competition with China.

The new hire is one of several senior positions Shyu is intending to create to achieve her tech priorities.

“He’s a brilliant guy,” Shyu said about the potential hire. Joseph Evans left the Pentagon as the top 5G advisor in August with the position being vacant since.

The department has been racing to catch up on the technology, which promises ultra-fast connections and the ability to transmit large amounts of data, and has both military and civilian applications.

DOD’s strategy on 5G has been focused on making “test beds” out of its military bases for private companies to come test new networks. The idea is that the military’s mini-cities can offer relativity red-tape free environments for companies to experiment in. And if the experiments are successful, DOD gets to bring cutting edge connectivity to bases and eventually military operations.

So far the military has issued hundreds of millions of dollars and established a consortium of companies for the test beds and is working to implement new 5G networks at logistics depots and warehouses.

Shyu also teased Thursday a new list of tech priorities she said should be published on Monday. She said that included on the list will be autonomy, network-of-networks, hypersonic missiles and microelectronics. She has previously spoken about 5G as a top priority as well.

Shyu expressed confidence her long list of priorities will be matched with increased funding, saying that next year’s budget request for research and engineering could be another all-time-high following the largest research budget request ever for fiscal 2022.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm for the stuff I am doing,” she said.

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5G, 5G network, Department of Defense (DOD), Heidi Shyu
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