Here’s another interesting question: how can the proliferation of social media and smart devices elevate the needs of edgefighters to prominence in the Pentagon?
This is a very interesting article. We see a number of parallels between the technological health of nations and that of industries. How do think defense would fare in a side-by-side comparison with other industries?
Following are some interesting excerpts:
Science fiction author William Gibson’s famous quip that the future is already here but unevenly distributed is the quintessential encapsulation of the fact that we differ in our stages of Technik.
However, the U.S. share of global R&D, like global GDP, has fallen to around 20%, and since not enough of those funds are devoted to commercialization initiatives, the United States sometimes has to buy things it invented a decade ago from competitors abroad.
This phenomena should sound familiar to defense insiders… How many promising technologies spawned from the previous decade of conflict have actually traversed the gap to formal DoD program of record? How long did it take DoD to internalize Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) first successfully demonstrated in Vietnam into the permanent force structure?
Innovation without productization, commercialization, and transition is just an interesting aside. Unfortunately, we can count on having to reinvent many of the same military technologies that so impacted the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq down the road.
Well, it’s a start…
Technology evolves so rapidly that DoD has trouble keeping up. Here’s an idea: what if DoD and the defense industry were to engage veterans with recent combat experience to form a corps of technology beta testers who, on a volunteer basis, could rate the efficacy of technologies against a a broad spectrum of DoD mission needs?
Sounds like a no-brainer to us…
There is something the government can do to help alleviate the strains on small businesses, short of fixing our broken political system. The U.S. government should broaden its accelerated payments initiative so that it includes subcontractors.
The shame of it is, we wouldn’t expect the large defense contractors to sit on the sidelines and let such common sense legislation pass…
For all the Obama Administration’s talk about revitalizing the manufacturing sector and sustaining a robust defense industrial base, there just isn’t much evidence that military planners give the subject any thought.
In particular, Chvotkin said the change could deter commercial companies from seeking defense business, as commercial acquisition is a much simpler contracting process. Items that would no longer be considered commercial would have to go through the traditional defense procurement procedure, keeping critical technology out of the hands of the war fighter, he said.
If you ask me, this is a potentially dangerous path for DoD to pursue. The onus for a regulatory change that would de facto limit margins on product sales to DoD would be born by small businesses – who are, by an large, the engine for rapid technology innovation in DoD. Small businesses rely on external investment to underwrite technology development efforts. And outside investors are not likely to risk capital on a venture that is artificially limited to a paltry margin levied by the DoD acquisition bureaucracy.
A better way to approach this problem is for DoD to require cost data for only those products that are substantially underwritten by the government in the form of defense contractors’ indirect rates. If the government is paying for it, whether directly or indirectly, it should have a right to review actual product costs. If DoD is not paying for it, then it should let the market set the price – just like the commercial world does.
Within a Grand Strategy, although not supreme, the military will necessarily play a large role. An adaptable strategy requires flexible, rapid procurement systems able to deliver technology when needed. It also requires the ability for on the ground commanders to purchase off the shelf kit, modify it, and utilize innovative non-traditional industrial firms with unique solutions.
Among his tips is “Favor the liberators,” which means that you should bet on those who are opening up access to new goods and tools, “turning scarcity into plenty.”
Smart Defense means exposing the commercial technology marketplace to problems in defense – increasing competition, reducing costs, and seeding innovation.