The Pentagon’s innovative approach and cyber implications [Commentary]

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There is little question that the modern military is technologically intensive. By nearly every indication, that intensity will increase in the next few years and about a dozen new, emerging technologies will offer new capabilities and actually accelerate in the pace of their advancement. With so much taking place in the technology environment, the Department of Defense recently made a strategic move to more aggressively pursue the capabilities and solutions these emerging technologies offer.

One specific effort should be applauded by the technology community and the country alike. A while back, our military leaders created the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, or DIAB. This board includes tech leaders from leading U.S. technology companies and universities. Just look at who leads this board — Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of well-known company Alphabet, the parent of Google, and a widely known tech leader.

At a recent meeting, DIAB made eleven recommendations:

  • Appoint a chief innovation officer and build innovation capacity in the workforce.
  • Embed computer science as a core competency of the department through recruiting and training.
  • Embrace a culture of experimentation.
  • Assess cybersecurity vulnerabilities of advanced weapons.
  • Catalyze innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Expand use of available acquisition waivers and exemptions.
  • Increase investment in new approaches to innovation.
  • Improve DoD access to code.
  • Establish software development teams at each major command.
  • Make computing and bandwidth abundant.
  • Reward bureaucracy busting.
  • Lower barriers to innovation.

Look at how many are related to cyber. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter had announced his formal acceptance of the board’s recommendations to create a DoD chief innovation officer; embed computer science as a core competency; and create a DoD center for artificial intelligence and machine learning. That is fast movement for any government organization.

If this pace is kept, the Pentagon clearly will modernize the military and take advantage of emerging technologies expeditiously, improving our national defense and security posture. This will be something to closely monitor.