June 05, 2014

CNAS Experts: Reform Needed in Sustainable Technological Competitiveness

By Ben FitzGerald, and Kelley Sayler

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2014 - The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report today – “Creative Disruption: Technology, Strategy and the Future of the Global Defense Industry”  – that identifies trends in the technology, security and business environments; highlights the disruptive effects of these trends; and offers recommendations for improving the United States’ ability to harness new sources of innovation. This report is the culminating effort of Creative Disruption: The Task Force on Strategy, Technology and Global Defense Industry, a months-long research agenda, co-chaired by the Honorable William J. Lynn III and ADM James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), that included numerous working groups, interviews and surveys. 
 
Authored by Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program Ben FitzGerald and Research Associate Kelley Sayler, with a foreword by Creative Disruption Task Force co-chairs Mr. Lynn and ADM Stavridis, the report highlights the growing disconnect between Defense Department (DOD) needs and what the existing business climate and acquisition strategy and structures are able to provide. The report concludes with strategic-level recommendations for increasing DOD’s ability to access and leverage shifting sources of innovation emanating from both the commercial and traditional defense sectors, including both domestic and international suppliers.
 
In a time of decreasing defense budgets, Mr. FitzGerald and Ms. Sayler suggest that success within the future global defense industry depends heavily on crucial modifications to outmoded models and policies. The report recommends that DOD:

  • Develop an acquisition strategy appropriate for the 21st-century security, technology and business environments
  • Undertake reform to update defense structures, including acquisition, intellectual property and regulatory policies
  • Improve communication and engagement with both defense and commercial firms to establish a clear and predictable demand signal
  • Explore more effective international collaboration

In addition, the report recommends that defense businesses:

  • Redouble their focus on long term strategy and investment
  • Seek to design technology solutions around outdated policies, in the absence of meaningful reform
  • Explore creative business opportunities, including those presented by market adjacencies and international collaboration

Download a copy of “Creative Disruption: Technology, Strategy and the Future of the Global Defense Industry.”
 
The authors conclude that “inertia, inability to adapt and a conscious desire to cling to the familiar methods of past successes” will cause predictable disruption for 21st-century powers and their respective defense industries. For the United States, continued failure to address this disruption could hold profound consequences, ultimately resulting in the decline of the nation’s strategic and technological advantage.

  • Ben FitzGerald

    Former Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program

    Ben FitzGerald was a Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS. In this capacity, Mr. FitzGerald led CNAS efforts to explore...

  • Kelley Sayler