Best Defense

Pentagon innovation board unveils an interesting set of initial recommendations

These strike me as more than the usual “must improve how it operates” type of recommendations.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter meets with SD meets with Eric Schmidt at the Pentagon, March 14, 2016. (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter meets with SD meets with Eric Schmidt at the Pentagon, March 14, 2016. (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

These strike me as more than the usual “must improve how it operates” type of recommendations. Some very concrete things:

— Appoint a DoD chief innovation officer to coordinate, oversee and synchronize innovation activities across the department.

— Establish a career track for computer science and a digital Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program.

— Build a culture of evidence-based, outcome-driven policies and experimentation by, among other things, offering bonuses, recognition, awards and other incentives for managers who promote innovation, give employees greater voice  and encourage creativity and divergent views.

— Direct Cybercom, working in coordination with the National Security Agency, to conduct a security review of every DoD system.

— Establish an institute for studying artificial intelligence and machine learning.

— Increase the speed and timeliness of acquisition processes by increasing the use of mechanisms for waivers and exemptions and offering incentives for quickly resolving concerns.

— Increase investment in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Strategic Capabilities Office, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, rapid equipping units and other small, agile, innovative organizations and create more connections among them.

— Establish a computer science resource –·a “human cloud” of computer programmers and software developers who are available on demand to swiftly solve software problems.

In comments at the meeting, Eric Schmidt, the Googlista who leads the panel, said that he believes the biggest obstacle to defense innovation is not technological but cultural.   

Hmmm. Might Schmidt be defense secretary one day?

Photo credit: Kcida10/Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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