During the last era of great power rivalry, the United States enjoyed a substantial technological advantage. The global R&D landscape, however, has changed dramatically since that time. As the United States enters a new era of great power competition it can no longer assume it will maintain a technological edge over its primary strategic competitor, China.

In the U.S.-China rivalry, whichever nation more effectively develops and adapts emerging technologies for defense purposes may gain a decisive advantage in military competition.

This paper takes a retrospective look to provide a baseline of DoD’s Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) modernization investments for Fiscal Years 2015-2019. It examines the extent to which DoD RDT&E spending to date has been aligned with the National Defense Strategy modernization priorities, providing insight into the current status of DoD’s force modernization, and the necessary context for DoD leadership to align investments with National Defense Strategy priorities in coming years.

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