WASHINGTON, DC – August Cole comments in Defense One on how the nature of 21st century conflicts is outpacing the speed at which the U.S. Department of Defense can acquire innovative technologies to combat disruptive ones.
Much of today’s defense architecture was built decades ago to thwart Moscow. Tomorrow’s defense innovators need to be able to rise to the level of Silicon Valley’s best to handle a spectrum of threats and challenges that defy status quo solutions.”–August Cole
Defense acquisition procedures lag far behind the private sector’s ability to simply purchase those innovative technologies that they need to stay competitive. However, even if improvements are made within the acquisition process, the Department of Defense cannot simply purchase a permanent competitive edge to combat adversaries. It must also attract and foster talent, which is difficult when more lucrative jobs that allow for more risk, and therefore greater creativity, beckon the next generation of innovative minds to Silicon Valley.
“Without an attendant change…in how Congress, corporate boards and the Defense Department treat failure, which is a requirement for any Silicon Valley business legend, risk aversion will continue to the detriment of America’s strategic edge.” DARPA’s XS-1 space plane program and U.S. SOCOM’s rapid acquisitions initiatives are a step in the right direction. But DoD would do well to ensure that the end user, e.g. the soldier has a real time feedback loop to the engineer at the beginning of the development process. This could foster better, faster product development as well as talent recognition, both of which could then be rewarded on a expedited basis, thus improving our national security capabilities, and ensuring our innovative brain trust for the future.
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