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Atlantic Council announces new commission to reform the defense innovation ecosystem

Commission chaired by Secretaries Mark T. Esper and Deborah Lee James to recommend actions for sharpening US defense-industrial edge


Photo: US Navy/Yuki Klein

Press Release | June 21, 2022

The Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security announced today the launch of Breaking and Remaking the US Defense Innovation System: A Commission on Improving DoD Engagement with New Companies and Innovators. Over several months, a distinguished group of commissioners will develop recommendations to better enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to rapidly absorb commercial technologies. The Commission will be co-chaired by the 27th US Secretary of Defense Hon. Mark T. Esper and the 23rd US Secretary of the Air Force Hon. Deborah Lee James. The Commission’s work will culminate in a published roadmap in 2023 for resolving critically important defense-industrial problems.

Harnessing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, directed energy, synthetic environments, and robotics will be imperative to deterring and, when necessary, prevailing in future wars with China and Russia, but existing defense acquisition and budgetary processes are insufficient for doing so. Outdated processes and rigid bureaucratic barriers are severely impeding DoD’s ability to rapidly embrace technological innovations. And, while the Pentagon’s last major modernization effort—the Third Offset Strategy—spurred numerous initiatives, and industry leaders are paving the way for high tech warfare, the arduous process for partnering with DoD dis-incentivizes their making big bets on defense capabilities.

Read the full press release here.

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