Monday, May 5, 2008

DARPA's Military Mission & University Connections--Part 1

In this 21st-century “era of permanent war and blogging,” U.S. universities like Columbia University sometimes claim that if they formally prohibit on-campus classified research for the Department of Defense they are no longer institutionally involved in doing war research for the Pentagon. Yet in the 21st-century, universities like Columbia still are apparently performing contract research work on campus for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA], whose mission is to develop more advanced weapons technology for the U.S. war machine to use in Iraq and other foreign countries.

In a chapter titled “Managing Public Sector Research and Development: Innovation Versus Responsiveness,” the late 1980s book that Asa Clark IV and John Lilley edited, Defense Technology, described how DARPA has, historically, operated:

“The Under-Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USDRE) also exercises direction and authority over the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Originally created in 1958 as the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) under control of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDRE), it was renamed DARPA in 1972 and is now a separate agency under the Under-Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. DARPA maintains no laboratories and does no scientific research of its own. It operates through…educational institutions to seek out and manage high-risk basic research and applied-technology programs…

“DARPA manages R&D on projects up to the demonstration stage, where feasibility can be assessed. It then transfers the projects to the appropriate military service…In the words of DARPA’s director Robert S. Cooper, DARPA serves, in effect as ‘the venture capitalists of the Defense Department.’”

Asa Clark IV also observed in a chapter titled “Defense Technology: Conclusions and Implications,” of Defense Technology, that “advanced-technology research and development is carried out largely in secret,” by the U.S. war machine.

Next: DARPA’s Military Mission & University Connections—Part 2

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