Two weeks ago, if you’d asked someone what the Department of Defense and the University of Nebraska had in common, you probably would have been answered with silence. Or maybe (depending on who you asked) you might have heard speculation that Coach Pelini was working on a cutting-edge defense strategy for the next Husker game.
But last week, the University of Nebraska announced its partnership with the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), under the command of the Department of Defense, to create a new University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). And now, what was once an odd couple looks like a match made in heaven. Both STRATCOM and the University of Nebraska have long been powerful economic engines that drive our state. They are cornerstones in Nebraska’s identity, and significant players in Nebraska’s future. When the need arose for a new national defense research facility, it only made sense to utilize the University of Nebraska’s world-class research facilities. Our researchers and their work are as well-known and respected as those of MIT and Johns Hopkins University, and it was a natural move for them to aid STRATCOM to better defend our nation. Strengthening the Defense In years to come, we will rely on UARC and STRATCOM more than ever. In the post 9/11 era, as our world continues to grow more interconnected, American ideals and interests will inevitably spread further and will continue to be under siege. The UARC research institute will work with STRATCOM in the areas of nuclear detection and forensics, the detection of chemical and biological weapons, defense against weapons of mass destruction, consequence management, as well as space, cyber and telecommunications law. The University’s faculty members have demonstrated the necessary expertise and research capabilities to advance defense knowledge in all of these fields, and will be able to further their research efforts with the UARC contract award from the Department of Defense. As STRATCOM plays an increasingly vital role in our nation’s security, the University of Nebraska will strengthen STRATCOM’s mission of global deterrence, and provide the tools needed to address the challenges and threats of the 21st Century. Forming a More Perfect Union In today’s digital age, a research facility like UARC does not have to be in close proximity to STRATCOM. It could be located most anywhere in our country with the required research assets and facilities. Yet, I’m not ashamed to say that I pushed hard to get the UARC in Nebraska. Granted, the University of Nebraska has the research assets, but I wanted UARC here in Nebraska, because I took to heart the old saying, “take care of those that take care of you.” Both the University of Nebraska and STRATCOM have and will continue to be beneficial for Nebraska, so I figured that we should bolster them as best as we can. They’re major sources of employment, education, community development, and economic growth for Nebraska. They’ve given quite a bit to our state. So, this was our opportunity to give back to them. With UARC, Nebraska wins with new jobs and growth, and our country wins, because the University of Nebraska’s excellent research talent will help STRATCOM make a safer America. Together, the University of Nebraska and STRATCOM will address the new threats facing our nation head-on, and will contribute significantly to the detection, deterrence and prevention of attacks against the United States.