The Pentagon Is Losing the Innovation Battle. Here’s How to Turn It Around


By Tim Greef, April 30, 2018

The United States military is losing the innovation battle. This is not hyperbole. Ellen Lord, defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, made this point last December. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, she said, “The current pace at which we develop advanced capability is being eclipsed by those nations that pose the greatest threat to our security, seriously eroding our measure of overmatch.”

The Pentagon began to respond to this challenge in 2015, following the game plan of the intelligence community and planting a stake in Silicon Valley. After all, the thinking went, Silicon Valley has by far the world’s largest concentration of tech firms supported by private equity and venture investors; and the military would close the innovation gap by sitting at the same table as the investors funding future global-technology giants. DIUx later opened outposts in Boston and Austin.

But if the U.S. military wants to maintain its technological edge against potential adversaries, the armed forces must do better to reach beyond Silicon Valley, which is only a very small slice of the innovation pie.




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