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The US has lost its lead in many of the mature technologies from which our industrial base and military power were built. The threat of a similar strategic loss now faces the electronics, computer, and software industries and cannot be tolerated. The military and even the economic position of this country is inextricably tied to the ability to exploit advantages of computer technology. The US Department of Defense (DoD), which has consistently moved to ensure the vitality of the US computer technology base, has established the VHSIC and Ada programs to further develop this important technology. Now, the DoD is preparing to launch a software initiative to complement the VHSIC and Ada programs. One of its objectives is to develop the systems and software techniques through which we can maintain our lead in this important industry. This software initiative will demand the cooperation of industry, government, and academia. This article describes DoD's motivation for establishing the software initiative and reviews its goal and objectives. The plan is a combination of technology transfer, incentive programs to build software expertise, and various quality control measures, which is hoped may help alleviate some of the DoD's software ills. This plan, which is by no means complete, has been developed with the assistance of many people. It must undergo considerable refinement and coordination before it is submitted to Congress this spring.