The U.S. Department of Defense has always played an enormous role in the development and advent of technology. When the Soviets launched Sputnik, the DOD created DARPA. You just need to look at your iPhone to see the amazing impact that DARPA and DoD research dollars has had on the world. The Internet (created by DARPA), its touch screen, GPS, SIRI, video conferencing – all in your pocket – exist because of the DOD’s innovative advancement of technology.
Yet DoD research dollars have been a challenge (like all other federal dollars) in the past few years. This, as you’d expect, is starting to spill over into real world security issues, as was articulated in recent 60 Minutes piece about weaknesses in our Defenses around a potential attack on our satellites. If they were attacked that’d knock our GPS and our eyes and ears, which of course would severely threatened our nation’s security.
In reaction, Secretary Carter has publicized his proposed solution: work with Silicon Valley to create new, advanced technologies that will ultimately replace GPS systems. On the surface, Carter’s solution could preemptively mend this massive breakage in our country’s security infrastructure.
Firstly, I commend Carter for his initiative, and agree with the overall concept. However, his plan requires a more comprehensive scope, as Defense aficionado Loren Thompson describes in his article, Five Reasons Why Silicon Valley Won’t Partner With The Pentagon.
In order to implement and achieve such remarkable feats in this day and age, the Secretary, and the entire Department of Defense, must tackle some unavoidable institutional barriers.
In my opinion, it’s a four-part process.
- Motivate and compel private industries to make a profit. We can’t simply expect businesses, especially those who are just getting their feet off the ground, to work for free.
- Remove bureaucratic obstacles (which are oftentimes in contracts) in order to encourage small business owners to work with the DOD.
- We need to solve the intellectual property issue.
- Establish a door into DOD that is easier for industries to access; we need to make it easier to incorporate small business’s new technologies, not present them with more red tape.
Yes, absolutely, let’s invest in and create new technologies. Yes, let’s protect our nation’s security systems. But we must do so while tackling some of the institutional barriers that have kept these companies from playing in the DoD space to begin with. If he can do that, then the Secretary will not only help make us safer, but he will also make us stronger.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.