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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

Committee service important to Iowans

By Senator Joni Ernst | Aug 10, 2017

Iowans from Sioux City to Davenport know why I serve on these committees: Armed Services; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Iowans have seen that these committees can have a tremendous impact on our farmers, military and small businesses.

As the newly appointed chair of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, I want to explain why this panel matters to Iowa, too.

As chairman of this subcommittee, I am focused on things like counter-terrorism and oversight of special operations forces. In addition, I largely focus on advanced science and technology for our Department of Defense.

The concepts I focus on daily are designed to deter our adversaries like Russia and China, in addition to protecting our homeland from radical Islamic terrorists.

At first mention, things like next-generation lasers, smart drones, biological countermeasures and additive manufacturing may not seem to have a direct connection to Iowa.

The truth is, however, the Pentagon’s pursuit and utilization of cutting-edge equipment influences Iowa’s farms, schools and jobs.

The following are just a few examples of so-called “dual-use technologies” being developed by the armed services whose applications impact Iowa’s industries:

• America’s Navy is testing lasers intended to defend aircraft carriers from super-sonic anti-ship cruise missiles.

Similar lasers can also help Iowa’s farmers by providing precision guidance to machinery and geographical analysis.

• While the Air Force is developing swarming drones to overwhelm enemy air defenses, similar drones can perform mechanical functions like planting, spraying and monitoring crops.

Moreover, drones can also identify fields needing irrigation or detect early stages of bacterial or fungal infections.

• The Army is looking at biological engineering methods as a means to counter attacks employed by terrorists.

Some of these techniques can also be used to boost soybean resistance to pests or reduce the toll of disease on pigs.

• For our special forces, nanotechnologies can provide servicemembers with conforming lightweight, bulletproof battle suits.

The same technologies can be used to deliver pesticides, fertilizers and vaccines to crops and livestock more efficiently.

Some of these emerging capabilities have already been in Iowa for quite some time.

Throughout that process, Iowa

will have a seat at the table.

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