Departing Air, Space Force official on Pentagon tech • The Register

The outgoing first chief architect officer of the US Air and Space Force urged the Pentagon to put off losing time constructing every little thing itself, and use industrial equipment if out there and acceptable to improve its technological capabilities shortly.

“If the Department of Defense is going to compete on today’s global stage and maintain its technological edge, it has to ride the wave of commercial innovation,” Preston Dunlap informed The Register on Monday. “If it doesn’t, it risks drowning under its own weight.”

After signing up for a two-year stint main R&D and tech acquisition applications for the US Air and Space Force, Dunlap stepped down as CAO this week, three years and 4 months into the function. In an open letter shared on LinkedIn, he ran by his achievements and supplied recommendation to his colleagues.

He requested them to combat for structural change to how the Department of Defense spends its know-how funds. As chief architect officer, Dunlap mentioned he helped handle greater than $70 billion of the US Air and Space Force’s spending throughout his time. Instead of attempting to create every little thing it could possibly from scratch, the DoD ought to use extra off-the-shelf parts from industrial suppliers, the place potential, to combine new capabilities extra shortly, he wrote. The identical was true for industrial providers, as long as they have been rigorously audited for safety and privateness points.

Dunlap listed a variety of tasks he was pleased with, together with reaching safe communication of categorized information between gadgets through industrial satellites, capturing down a cruise missile from the bottom utilizing AI and 5G, and reducing kill chain timelines in a “critical defense mission” from 16 minutes to 16 seconds. That mentioned, he confronted an uphill battle fraught with “extensive technology problems” and “a number of institutional problems,” he wrote.

“I naively thought that resuscitating DoD with innovation and speed, solving decades-old unsolvable problems, and getting the warfighter tech they needed and loved would be enough. However … structural change is required … To borrow an analogy from the personal computer world, DoD suffers from an acquisition ‘blue screen of death’ that requires more of a repair of the proverbial DoD hard drive, not simply a rebooting,” he continued.

In brief, the Pentagon ought to cease at all times “reinventing the wheel,” or danger falling behind in technological innovation.

Modernizing the DoD to higher help newfangled capabilities like 5G and machine studying will not be sufficient to make the US extra aggressive. The DoD’s inside tradition has to vary, too, though he acknowledged that this was an enormous job, given the glacial tempo of presidency.

Of the “structural changes that I made over the last three years” that he listed, “these only only begin to flip the script. Much more must be done if DoD is going to regrow its thinning technological edge.”

He pleaded with service members to cease bureaucratic infighting and focus extra on delivering merchandise to defend the nation. “We’re falling behind the commercial base in key areas, so we’ve got to catch up,” he added to Bloomberg. Catching up can be troublesome, nevertheless, if employees proceed to “compete with each other, when [they] should be competing with China.”

The Department of Defense suffers from a variety of technological points, on high of procurement. Previously revealed open letters and resignations revealed workers needed to wrangle with outdated, sluggish computer systems that will break down in the event that they tried to make use of Microsoft Excel or ship an electronic mail. Cellphone utilization can be restricted.

“Ironically as I’m writing this, I received notification that the phone lines are down at the Pentagon IT help desk. Phone lines are down? It’s 2022, folks,” Dunlap wrote on LinkedIn. The division desperately must undertake the “Silicon Valley mentality and capability” to beat its technological shortcomings, he opined. More effort and time ought to be put into growing new merchandise and hiring one of the best expertise at a sooner tempo.

See the above-linked letter for his views in full. ®

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