By Debbie Gregory.
One might not expect the Pentagon to have a branch office. But the Silicon Valley area of California is now home to just that.
The Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx for short, has begun operations near Moffett Federal Airfield’s WWII-era airship hangars. The DIUx director, George Duchak, is joined by Rear Adm. Brian Hendrickson to develop alliances with the progressive innovators of the region.
The landmark move will position key Pentagon staff to focus on meeting tech companies with commercial components in order to improve military equipment. Duchak has worked at the Air Force research Laboratory, DARPA, as well as in the private sector with tech companies and startups. Hendrickson is a Naval Academy graduate with an MBA from Harvard and experience with SEAL teams and US Special Operations Command. With both men having an entrepreneurial mindset, their mission is part of a Pentagon initiative to find technologies that will prepare troops for the battlefield of the future. It is evident that technologies such as robotics, cyber, additive manufacturing and big data analytics will be critical to defense.
“We’ll learn a lot about what technologies are emerging in the high-tech world and they’re going to learn a lot about what we need,” Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall said.
By positioning themselves in the heart of Silicon Valley, Pentagon officials hope to gain insight as to how industries approach innovation.
“We need to prove to the Valley that we aren’t this big ponderous beast — that we can turn some things certainly a little faster if they are very promising, have good technology behind them and we see a way to get there,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said.
“One of the reasons that we’re establishing this new presence in Silicon Valley is to have a visual presence out there and get people to think about the DoD as a source of financing and as a potential customer,” Kendall explained. He hopes to assure tech companies that the Pentagon is not looking to confiscate anyone’s ideas or work.
“We want to make sure people understand that we’ll respect their intellectual property.”
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Military Connection: Pentagon’s Silicon Valley Office Open for Business: By Debbie Gregory