This essay explores the process of the acquisition and application of knowledge by the Department of Defense (DoD) of the United States of America, based upon policies and practices of the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The ONR's “Systems-of-Systems” approach organizes the academic, private, and military sectors to meet critical operational needs over a twenty-year horizon. We describe the frameworks for organizing the interplay of different sectors and stakeholders in knowledge acquisition, knowledge application, and the production of operational deliverables for projected needs. It is often not appreciated that the ONR prioritizes development of innovative fundamental research, which is often interdisciplinary. Nearly sixty Nobel Laureates have contributed to these endeavors, including thirty-seven laureates since 1980. ONR-supported fundamental research has been a sustainable process for fostering scientific advances and selective production of state-of-the-art deliverables that support military operational needs, often with collateral significant benefits to the civilian sector.

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