Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaking at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum

Hagel outlines new Defense innovation efforts

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a new Defense Innovation Initiative that will identify and develop advanced technologies, ensuring that the United States has a competitive technological advantage in the coming decades.

Speaking at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Hagel said the innovation initiative will explore and develop operational concepts, including new approaches to warfighting and balancing DOD’s investments between platforms and payloads.

“We face the rise of new technologies, national powers and non-state actors,” as well as “sophisticated, deadly and often asymmetric emerging threats ranging from cyberattacks to transnational criminal networks, [and] persistent, volatile threats we have faced for years,” Hagel said.

As part of the plan, a new Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program will help identify, develop and field breakthroughs in robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data and advanced manufacturing, including 3-D printing.

“The program will look toward the next decade and beyond,” he said, “[but] in the near-term it will invite some of the brightest minds from inside and outside government to … assess the technologies and systems DOD [should] develop over the next three to five years and beyond,” Hagel said, according to Cherly Pellerin’s report for the Defense Media Activity.

The innovation initiative will also change the way the Defense Department diagnoses and plans for challenges, Hagel said, acknowledging that many breakthrough technologies come from outside DOD’s development pipelines or traditional defense contractors.

“We all know that DOD no longer has exclusive access to the most cutting-edge technology or the ability to spur or control the development of new technologies the way we once did,” the defense secretary said. “So we will actively seek proposals from the private sector, including firms and academic institutions outside DOD’s traditional orbit.”

DOD will also upgrade its business and IT systems and processes in an effort to strike the right balance between civil service and contractor support and avoiding duplication of efforts, Hagel said, adding that after years of delay the department is making progress moving toward greater financial accountability.

Hagel added, “If we make the right investments in our partnerships around the world in innovation and in our defense enterprise, we will continue to keep our nation’s military and our nation’s global leadership on a strong and sustainable path for the 21st century.”

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