House lawmakers have proposed requiring the Pentagon to deliver a strategy detailing the department’s plans for accelerating development and implementation of 5G technologies, as well as improving coordination of policies required to protect investments in future technologies.

The House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities released its mark-up for the next defense authorization bill on Monday, which includes a series of proposals intended to ensure DoD and its industrial base are better aligned on cyber security and policy directives as the department increases investments in next-generation technologies, from hypersonics to directed energy.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

For 5G communications, specifically, the subcommittee is asking the secretary of defense to deliver a new strategy that would detail the department’s plan for harnessing “technologies to enhance military capabilities, maintain a technological advantage on the battlefield, and accelerate the deployment of new commercial products and services enabled by 5G networks throughout the Department of Defense.”

Lawmakers are also calling for overall increase in 5G investment, a move that arrives as the race with China to enter the space has picked up increasingly over the last year.

Monday’s proposal calls on the department to to assess industry’s capacity for deliver 5G tools, and study the necessary information infrastructure required to reach the department’s goals.

The secretary of defense would be required to deliver the new strategy no later than 270 days after the NDAA is approved, and provide a briefing on the development of the this strategy within the first 180 days.

The House panel is also directing DoD to compile a report on improving coordination to better align new capability efforts across the department, with lawmakers noting technology development continues to outpace policy formulation.

“For example, the department is investing significantly in hypersonics, artificial intelligence, directed energy, and other cutting-edge technologies without a cohesive policy regarding development and employment of such capabilities, including the use of these technologies for offensive purposes,” lawmakers wrote.

Committee staffers told reporters Monday the directive is intended to address the current ad hoc approach and get the under secretary of defense for policy involved “way earlier in the process” in assessing areas such as legal and treaty reviews as new technology is being brought along.

“If you look at directed energy, the policy lagged for years. They just came out with something comprehensive last year and yet we’ve had these things out in demos for years,” a committee staffer said.

The proposal also calls for the Pentagon to define new responsibilities for cyber security with its industrial base by May 2020, with lawmakers adding current “efforts are not coordinated or deconflicted.”

An emphasis is also placed on securing future technology investments as the U.S. faces increasing competition with peer adversaries, and directs for regular reports from the Protecting Critical Technologies Task Force and a new study to determine the potential effects of negative science and technology growth in future budgets and its effects on underfunding “the U.S. technological edge.”