Pentagon falling behind in advancing US military-tech superiority - report

Pentagon falling behind in advancing US military-tech superiority - report
The technical superiority of the US military is at risk if the Pentagon's future leaders do not incentivize technology innovation among potential partners in Silicon Valley and other public and private benefactors of Pentagon cash, a report says.

A new report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) says the US Department of Defense (DoD) is falling behind in capitalizing on the nation's "intellectual, financial, and institutional advantages sufficient to maintain its military-technical superiority."

"The erosion of U.S. military-technical advantages increases military risk, weakens the deterrent value of traditional capabilities, and undermines the DoD’s ability to generate nuanced military options to address the growing range of policy contingencies faced by the nation," according to the report,"Future Foundry: A New Strategic Approach to Military-Technical Advantage."

The authors of the report — including Ben FitzGerald, director of the think tank's Technology and National Security Program and a longtime official for Noetic Group, in part a defense-tech consulting organization — said that the incoming Trump administration, including President-elect Donald Trump's pick for DoD secretary James Mattis, will have "a rare window to capitalize on opportunities" to advance US military's technological prowess.

"A new strategic approach to military-technical advantage must be at the top of the next secretary’s agenda, and not simply as an end in itself or as a method to address rising costs and fragility in the defense industrial base," the report says.

The report suggests that the DoD must "shift the basis of technological competition from the features of specific weapons systems to the military’s access to centers of industry and innovation and – more importantly – to the human capital of concept developers and military commanders."

In sum, the report posits that the DoD is failing to sufficiently leverage its relationship with "industry partners" to increase the US military's technological edge.

The DoD "must create the correct incentives to enable a range of partners – from traditional defense industry to commercial industry, startups, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), government labs, and universities – to collaborate, compete, and contribute new technology and ideas," the authors wrote.

On Wednesday, CNAS held an event to support the report. CNAS CEO Michèle Flournoy, a former top DoD official in the Obama administration, warned that the DoD must foster more technological innovation and signal to industry partners that they should not be worried about failure in the process.

"We are in an international security environment that is increasingly challenging and is only going to become more challenging over time, and if the United States Armed Forces were to stand still we would lose our edge in terms of technology and our ability to prevail in the future," Flourney said at the event, according to the Free Beacon.