December 15, 2014 By Colin Clark
PENTAGON: Ellen Pawlikowski helps decide what weapons the Air Force buys and manages the buying process, so when the lieutenant general says she likes autonomy and 3-D printing as the most promising capabilities for her service to develop as part of the new offset strategy, it’s worth listening.
“This is Ellen Pawlikowski speaking,” she says in her E-ring office at the Pentagon, making sure we all know this is her personal opinion. She thinks autonomy — a cluster of technologies that allows weapons to execute missions without much human intervention — can “play a major role. It can allow me to get more numbers in things than I can get now.” And, as most generals will tell you, quantity possesses a quality all its own.
This is all about the Pentagon’s offset strategy, overseen by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, designed to ensure America’s continued military dominance for a long time. Pawlikowski is the uniformed official who oversees the Air Force’s science and technology work, so much of the service’s offset strategy effort will be led by her.
“I can see a scenario where you’ve got an F-35 orchestrating an attack with 20 RPAs [remotely-piloted aircraft] that are weapons-equipped and that F-35, with all its sensors and communications, is essentially an orchestrator,” she says.