The University of Houston has been awarded a $63.5 million contract by the U.S. Department of Defense to help the Army make effective and timely decisions with a strong analytical foundation to gain dominance over adversaries today and into the future. It is the largest contract or grant ever awarded to the University of Houston, a Carnegie-designated Tier One research university located in the fourth largest city in the nation.
“We are immensely honored to have been awarded this important contract from the Department of Defense,” said Renu Khator, University of Houston president. “We understand the significance of this project in enhancing the Army’s decision-making capabilities, and we are proud to contribute to our nation’s security and strategic competitiveness. We look forward to the remarkable contributions that will emerge from this collaboration, strengthening the University of Houston’s commitment to driving innovation that matters.”
Craig Glennie, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of engineering defense research initiatives at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, is leading the project team that includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst and New Mexico State University, among others.
The team will explore and innovate in the realm of analytical modeling and simulation to enhance the Army's decision making during long-term strategic competition or struggles among nations that occur when pursuing incompatible interests without necessarily being engaged in armed conflict.
“We are not looking at what happens once bullets start flying. We are looking at what happens during the competition and crisis phases, the buildup and the posturing and the projection of forces before you actually get to the point of armed conflict,” said Glennie. “The Army needs tools to understand how they can effectively position themselves and project their force towards the adversary in such a manner that they can avoid armed conflict, or if that is not possible, be prepared for the onset of armed conflict.”
Contemporary Army decision-making bears little resemblance to its historical counterparts. The Army is undergoing the most significant reorganization and technical innovation since the end of the Cold War — ensuring that adversaries cannot outrange or outpace America on traditional battlefields, or the new frontiers of space and cyberspace.
“We will work with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Analysis Center (known as DAC) to build realistic modeling, analysis and simulation tools for new technologies that the Army is responsible for integrating into the future battlefield,” said Glennie. “For example, we will look at the electromagnetic spectrum, at owning the airspace, and projecting that we have the radio frequency technology that is capable of jamming a neighbor’s signals.”
If the brawn of the U.S. Army are its troops and military might, the brains are in DAC’s analytical foundation informing army modernization and readiness decisions by conducting thorough analyses.
DAC has identified several high priority research areas, including quantum technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and that’s just the beginning. In total, the program will focus on six broad categories with numerous objectives to provide valuable insights to commanders at all levels, to inform on the most critical decisions.
Recently the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a major paper on U.S. strategy entitled “Joint Concept for Competing” in which they posit that “competition does not always mean hostility and does not preclude cooperation. Nor does the United States view strategic competition as an inevitable march to armed conflict. Done properly, there is much to gain from strategic competition, something U.S. adversaries have already realized.”
“This critical project reaffirms the University of Houston’s role as an innovation hub, where our researchers are making impactful strides in real-world applications. The stakes here are high, but we accept the challenge of advancing the frontiers of analytical modeling and simulation to assist the Army in an ever-evolving global landscape,” said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, UH vice president of energy and innovation.