Posted 8 декабря 2022,, 14:07

Published 8 декабря 2022,, 14:07

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Pentagon hopes to simplify the introduction of new technologies

8 декабря 2022, 14:07
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the creation of a special unit at the Pentagon, which was called the Office of Strategic Capital.

Alexander Sychev

The Office of Strategic Capital (OSC), which has 90 days to form, will be part of the Pentagon's Main Technology Directorate, headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense for Research and Technology Heidi Schew. The OSC will work to identify "promising critical technology areas", especially those that have not received sufficient investment from the private sector, and raise funding. "The Office gives us another tool in the toolbox so we can stay competitive with our strategic rivals like China and Russia," said Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder.

The new department is yet another attempt by the Ministry of Defense to overcome its illnesses, largely due to its own fault. The US has long faced, in particular, the challenges of discovering and transferring innovative technologies from commercial companies to the military. In an effort to protect itself from corruption and the influence of lobbyists representing the interests of the largest military-industrial corporations, the Pentagon created an extensive system of directorates, departments, subdivisions and councils that permeate the entire structure of the ministry and military branches. All these departments were overlaid with detailed regulations and rules designed to protect their decisions from external interests. Compliance with the spirit and letter of the rescripts is monitored by control authorities.

The result was a bureaucratic process of identifying new technologies and bringing them to finished products. This process was even called the "valley of death" - by analogy with the valley of the same name in California, where in the 19th century, during the California gold rush, gold miners died from the heat.

However, the built-in counteraction mechanism did not defeat the influence of the "special interests" of industrial groups. The conclusion of almost all more or less significant contracts is accompanied either by litigation between competitors, or by persistent rumors about the strangeness of the choice of the military.

A side effect of protection against corruption was the delay in acceptance into service. Today, the Defense Department's procurement program requires approvals that take 9 to 26 years. During this time, the technology, which was lucky enough to reach the stage of inclusion in the production program, manages to become hopelessly outdated. At the same time, in the commercial sphere, technologies, including those with a dual purpose, are updated approximately every 18 months.

Retired Admiral Michael Mullen, who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 at the end of his career and made good money on the boards of several companies after his retirement, said he was surprised at how difficult it was for non-traditional defense companies to do business with the Department of Defense.

The sluggishness of the created system breaks even the idealists who are burning with the dream of contributing to the preservation of the technological leadership of the United States. At the end of 2021, the star of creating an innovation ecosystem, Nicolas Chayan, specially invited from France, resigned. Since 2018, he has served as Director of Software for the US Air Force. Shaian, 37, asked that his early resignation be seen as "a protest against the slow pace of technological change in the US military".

In April of this year, the Chief Architect of the US Space and Air Force (his position was called) Preston Dunlap resigned. He was responsible for introducing new technologies to the aerospace force and managed a hefty $70 billion budget. However, in order to spend even a cent, he was forced to go through all the circles of the conciliation hell of the Pentagon.

After his departure, another resignation followed. This time, the chief director of data processing and analysis of the US Department of Defense, David Spirk, “broke down”. He also spoke very unflatteringly about the existing order in the Pentagon.

It cannot be said that the American Department of Defense does not see problems: its slowness and lack of working contacts with the civilian sector. Back in 2015, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited Silicon Valley to connect with innovators there.

During a meeting on the campus of Stanford University with the local tech and business elite, Carter expressed the Pentagon's strong interest in working together. The head of the department promised that "the US military will try to change its innovation policy in such a way that mutual trust and closer business contacts will be strengthened between the Department of Defense and Silicon Valley".

At the same time, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) was created, opening its first office in Moffett Field, California. According to a recent report, between 2016 and 2021, DIU received 279 proposals from 245 unique developers and awarded 72 contracts for prototyping and other types of research. According to the current director of the service, Michael Brown, to date, less than one percent of the total defense procurement budget is allocated to finance them.

Last year, current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also tried to bring harmony to the work of the department, deleting 40 advisory councils from the list of department structures. However, with the other hand, he reopened the Innovation Advisory Council, which, incidentally, includes billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

And here is a new structure - OSC, not much different from DIU. Now she, guided by some considerations, will determine who to light the "green light" and who to send to the "valley of death".

It seems that despite persistent attempts to build a transparent and working mechanism for bringing technologies to metal, the US defense department remains a closed, clumsy and incomprehensible structure for the American civilian innovation sector. It is no coincidence that among companies seeking access to the military budget, officials who worked in the military sphere, as well as retired generals, are still very popular. Companies are ready to charge indecently high salaries for their connections in the necessary authorities.