From 15 to 19 October, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee (STC) visited San Diego and Silicon Valley. STC Chairperson Maria Martens (Netherlands) led the delegation, consisting of 19 members of parliament from 15 Allied countries.

NATO’s unrivalled defence Science and Technology (S&T) edge remains the lifeblood of current and future capabilities. Unfortunately, a real possibility exists that the Alliance could fall behind in defence S&T in the coming years. Consequently, the STC is redoubling its efforts to identify the challenges in maintaining the S&T edge and to lend political support to rectify any shortcomings. The visit to two of the most important hubs for S&T in the United States – and indeed worldwide – was therefore a key part of the Committee’s efforts in 2018.

The United States is currently reforming its approaches to defence S&T and research and development (R&D), in particular through the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Initiative (DII) and Third Offset Strategy. San Diego and Silicon Valley are central to this agenda. Throughout the week, members also explored specific emerging science and technology S&T fields, such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, super and quantum computing, robotics, and military and civilian naval, space, and unmanned technologies.

In focus, too, were current challenges, opportunities, and trends arising from a changing cyber environment, including cyber defence and security, combatting extremism online, and the integrity of election infrastructure. Moreover, the delegation used the opportunity to visit military installations in San Diego, the fourth largest US naval base.  [...]