Think-tank commission diagnoses 'innovation adoption problem' at DOD

By Tony Bertuca / April 12, 2023 at 4:46 PM

A think-tank commission composed of former high-level Pentagon officials has released a report intended to provide the Defense Department and Congress with actionable reforms meant to accelerate the adoption of innovative commercial technologies to compete with China.

The Atlantic Council commission, co-chaired by former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, wants to “accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge technology from the leading edge of the commercial and defense sectors,” according to an interim report released today.

Other commission members include former Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord and former DOD policy chief Michèle Flournoy.

“In our time serving in the Defense Department, we have found that the United States does not have an innovation problem, but rather an innovation adoption problem,” according to the commission’s interim report.

Though the United States leads the world in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and directed energy, DOD “struggles to identify, adopt, integrate and field these technologies into military applications,” according to the report.

Among the top recommendations is that DOD expand the powers of the Defense Innovation Unit, which was recently elevated to directly report to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.