It was an honor to host the US Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks at Stanford University Gordian Knot National Security Innovation Center(Think of the Deputy Secretary of Defense as the company’s chief operating officer. But in this case, the company has 3 million employees (about 1.4 million active duty, 750,000 civilian, approximately 800,000 National Guard and reservists).
Our goal for the Secretary’s visit was to give her a snapshot of how we are helping build the Department of Defense, a priority for the Department of Defense. innovation Labor force.we are technical stem– A trained workforce (which we need) and an innovative workforce that is in massive shortage.
Innovation incorporates a lean methodology (customer discovery, problem understanding, MVP, pivot) and a culture of speed and urgency, where failure equals rapid learning. All this with minimal resources to deploy the necessary and desired products/services at scale. He pointed out that Silicon Valley and Stanford have been doing this for his 50 years. And China is overtaking us by adopting the innovative methods we invented, integrating commercial technology with academic research, and providing it to the PLA.
Therein lies the focus of the Gordian Knot Center. Combining STEM with policy education and leveraging synergies between the two to develop innovative leaders who understand technology and policy, solve problems, and deliver solutions at speed and scale.
what we present
A key element of the Gordian Knot Center’s mission is to prepare and inspire future leaders to make meaningful contributions as part of the innovation workforce. Combining Stanford’s unique strengths with its Silicon Valley location, it solves the problems of many activities that create and sustain national strength. The various resources and features that you bring to battle from the Center’s unique position include:
- Insights and expertise of Stanford’s international and national security policy leaders
- Technical Insights and Expertise from Stanford Engineering
- a brilliant student willing to help his country win the great power race
- Silicon Valley’s Deep Commercial Technology Ecosystem
- Our experience in rapid problem understanding, rapid iteration, and rapid and urgent solution deployment
- Access to large scale risk capital
In the six months since we founded the Gordian Knot Center, we have focused on six initiatives we wanted to share with Secretary Hicks.than that Joe Felter Twenty-five students, academics, mentors and alumni joined us and gave the Secretary 3-5 minutes to detail their work across all six Gordian Knot initiatives. Highlights from these presentations include:
- Hacking the defense team – Vannevar Institute, flip, disinformatics
- CONOPS development
- national security education – Technology, innovation and great power competition
- Defense Innovation Scholar Program – 25 now, 50 by the end of the year
- Policy impact and outreach –ONR Hedge Strategy, NSC Quad Emerging Technology Track 1.5 Conference
- Internships and professional development – innovation workforce vignette
If you can’t see the slides, please click here
Throughout the 90+ minute session, Dr. Hicks asked her students insightful questions and one of her key priorities is Accelerating innovation adoption across the Department of Defenseincluding organizational structure, processes, culture, and people.
I was encouraged by the word.
But from where we are sitting..
- Our national security is now inexorably entwined with commercial technology and hampered by the lack of an integrated strategy at the highest levels.
- Our adversaries have exploited the boundaries and boundaries between our defenses and our commercial and economic interests.
- Our current approach to innovation across government has become piecemeal, incremental, increasingly irrelevant and inadequate in both past and current administrations.
Listening to the Secretary’s conversation is a further reminder that we need to fundamentally reform the civil-military innovation relationship if we are to keep up with our adversaries.This includes DoD funding, private capital, dual-use startups, existing prime contractors, and federal government Lab with new configuration. that is:
create new defense ecosystem comprehensive Startups, frontline scale-ups, prime contractors, etc. integrator Advanced Technology, Federally Funded Research and Development Center Re-focused on areas not covered by commercial technologies (nuclear, hypersonic, etc.). Make it permanent by creating an innovation doctrine/policy.
create new national champion Non-traditional vendors Dual-use commercial technologies such as AI/ML, quantum, space, drones, high-performance computing, next-generation networking, autonomy, biotech, underwater vehicles, and shipyards. You do this by picking a winner. Do not hand over door prizes. Because the contract would require him to exceed $100 million, high quality Venture fund companies will participate.until a new vendor comes along List of Major Defense Procurement Programsthere is only innovation in the Department of Defense theater – Not innovation.
get it fastToday, the average Pentagon’s major procurement program takes 9 to 26 years for a combatant to acquire a weapon. He needs a requirements, budgeting, and acquisition process that operates at commercial speed (within 18 months), which is ten times faster than the Department of Defense’s procurement cycle.Instead of stating requirements, the Department of Defense rapid Evaluate solutions and involve combatants in the evaluation and prototyping of commercial solutions.
Integrate the VC/Private Equity ecosystem to facilitate large-scale investmentAsk your funders what it takes to make a large investment. For example, creating incentives to attract large tax holidays or funds to invest in technology areas of high national interest.
Recruit and develop leaders across the Department of Defense who are ready to respond to current threats and reorganize around this new innovation ecosystem. The Department of Defense has world-class people and organizations for a world that in many ways no longer existsThe threats, speed of change and technology we face in this century require a radically different mindset and approach than those faced in the 20th century. Senior DoD leaders today must think and act differently than their predecessors a decade ago. Leaders at all levels now need to understand the commercial ecosystem and how to respond to the speed and urgency China is setting.
It was clear that Deputy Secretary Hicks understood most, if not all, of these needs. Unfortunately, given the inherently fixed budget of the Department of Defense, creating a new prime and a new national champion for the next generation of defense technology is a daunting task. zero sum gameIt is a politically impossible problem for the Department of Defense alone to solve. A change of this magnitude requires Congressional action. Hard to imagine in a polarized political environment. But it’s not impossible.
These are our challenges not just to the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, but to our country. In the words of President John F. Kennedy, we took them on.Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. Because goals help us organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. I’m going to win ”
Filed Under: Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation |