December 04, 2014

DoD To Silicon Valley, VCs: How ‘Bout Some Help!

Featuring Shawn Brimley

PENTAGON:  For decades the tech gurus of Silicon Valley have pretty much left Pentagon business alone, letting the military stumble along and try to buy their wares within five years of their coming out.

Take the story of former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, hungry for an iPad that could handle classified information. Couldn’t be done, Cartwright was told. So he ordered DARPA to do it. Then it did get done, but that gives you some idea of just how hard it can be for agile tech companies to do business with the military. Or for the military to buy something new that it really wants — such as the breakthrough technologies envisioned by the newly announced “offset strategy.”

Now, confronted with an historic shift in science and technology spending from the military to commercial companies and the rapid global proliferation of precision weapons and other technologies, the Pentagon has issued a Request for Information asking anyone with a really good idea to click on a dedicated website and let them know about it.

While Lockheed, Boeing and friends will certainly be listened to should they have ideas to share, this effort is really aimed at individuals and companies who traditionally don’t do business with the Pentagon. “I think that’s a very clear message,” said Stephen Welby, the deputy assistant defense secretary leading the effort, when I pressed him if the RFI’s target was companies like Google, Cisco and other tech generators.

Read the entire article at Breaking Defense.

  • Shawn Brimley

    Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

    Shawn Brimley is Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) where he manages the center’s research agenda and staff. Mr....