Technology innovations in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have delivered unmatched national security capability for the United States for the greater part of the last seven decades. Federal research and development funding is at the heart of the U.S. high-technology advantage. Continuing to push the technology envelope is central to maintaining U.S. preeminence in military capability. As Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter made clear in his Silicon Valley speech in April 2015, "threats to our security and our country's technological superiority are proliferating and diversifying." The U.S. global lead in defense technology is being actively eroded by potential competitors who themselves are pursuing advanced technologies to develop asymmetric capabilities that challenge the U.S. ability to carry out critical missions. This report explores the context of the global innovation environment that is driving the need for DoD to better connect with the global commercial economy. Through an expansive set of interviews with experts, practitioners, and senior officials, the CSIS study team developed a set of recommendations, divided here into two general proposals: (1) encourage better awareness of outside innovation; and (2) enable better access to that outside innovation once it has been identified.
Andrew P. Hunter is a senior fellow and director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at CSIS. Ryan A. Crotty is a fellow with the International Security Program at CSIS.