The RSTD department does not conduct research itself but manages all of Defense's scientific and technological research. The domain managers of the RSTD department ensure the proper functioning of the research, while the actual research is carried out in the ERM laboratories, in the Defense Knowledge Centers or even outside.
The RSTD program consists of studies from a dual approach: top-down and bottom-up.
Basic research is a "bottom-up" mechanism. This means that research directors submit research topics.
Applied research can be conducted either to achieve a technological breakthrough / technological advance or to resolve short-term issues beyond the framework of staff work. In both cases, research is essentially a "top-down" mechanism, that is to say that the Defense behaves in a directive manner by defining the areas in which it wishes to carry out research.
In addition, like the working methods at large universities, Defense chooses to entrust the development and management of the research program to an independent body in order to achieve overall coherence:
- Support for education;
- Operational support and decision support;
- Supranational agreements within the framework of the NATO Research and Technology Organization and the European Defense Agency.
These activities take place mainly within the Defense, but can also be conducted outside the Defense. They are multidisciplinary in nature, ranging from technological research to political-military research and behavioral sciences.