Beyond those immediate cuts, Prabhakar says there may be longer-term fiscal trends driving down the budget. “We believe we may be at the beginning of a fundamental shift in how society allocates resources to the business of national security,” she said.
Even with much heralded successes, Darpa also faces continuing questions of relevance: what is the role of a technology agency in an era when technology doesn’t always win - or lose - wars? Though the document Darpa released this week revealed little new on the agency’s overall strategy, it did highlight some current interests, such as engineering biology, robotics, and neuroscience.
Indeed, defining Darpa’s overall purpose may prove the biggest challenge for an agency founded to help counter a technological threat from the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist over 20 years ago.
Asked, for example, what country might, given current US superiority, produce a surprise, Prabhakar’s answer was simple: “If it happens, it’ll be a surprise.”