DOD hires technical director to oversee 5G developments

By Justin Doubleday / September 5, 2019 at 9:18 AM

The Defense Department has brought on a former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency official to oversee DOD’s research and development of fifth-generation wireless technologies.

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin announced yesterday the appointment of Joe Evans as technical director for 5G within Griffin’s research and engineering directorate.

“It ranks extremely high in our priorities,” Griffin said of 5G during a Defense News conference in Arlington, VA. “It ranks right behind microelectronics, I would say.”

He noted his deputy, Lisa Porter, has been named DOD’s “cognizant,” or lead official, for 5G.

“We’re working with all the services on developments in 5G on and around our various bases and installations,” Griffin said. “This is an area where DOD can help, but frankly, commercial industry and the telecom’s arena dwarfs even the heaviest possible DOD instantiation of telecomm. So our goal is to be at the frontier with our telecoms industry and to do so in a way that of course meets DOD’s needs securely and with assurance that they’ll be there.”

Until he joined Griffin’s shop this month, Evans had served as a program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office, according to his biography on DARPA’s website. He joined the defense agency on leave from his post as the Deane E. Ackers Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at the University of Kansas.

Earlier in his career, Evans helped develop the Tactical Ground Reporting System for DARPA and the Army as chief scientist at Ascend INtelligence, according to the biography. He also served as program director in the Division of Computer and Network Systems at the National Science Foundation between 2003 and 2005.

DOD’s developments related to 5G technologies has picked up pace in recent months. Earlier this summer, Congress granted DOD’s request to reprogram $34 million to jump-start a 5G technology development program. Lawmakers are also boosting DOD funding to install 5G testbeds at certain Air Force installations within the United States.