The CSS Blog Network

Hacking Defense: Changing How DoD Innovates

The Pentagon, January 2008. Image: Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published June 23, 2014 by War on the Rocks.

Product innovation in the U.S. Department of Defense follows an implicit rule: “Better, cheaper, faster—pick two.”

Today, the military is simultaneously confronted with declining budgets, skyrocketing system development costs, and a diverse spectrum of rapidly evolving, complex military threats. To mitigate this challenge, the Pentagon should place renewed emphasis on its corporate approach to technology innovation in order to identify and exploit opportunities to do more with less.

The Better Buying Power initiative focuses on DoD’s innovation problem, but to be successful, such efforts must eschew traditional notions of defense system development. From iterative, design-based product development approaches to open, distributed ecosystems of partners and suppliers, the techniques employed by Silicon Valley and the most innovative sectors of the global high-tech economy should inform a new model of defense innovation that enables better, cheaper, and faster outcomes. » More

An Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter for Tomorrow’s Conflict

Marine attack helicopter landing aboard ship

This article was originally published April 18 2014 by Small Wars Journal

In January the Army Aviation Center of Excellence announced its plan to divest the army inventory of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior in favor of an attack and reconnaissance aviation force consisting of the AH-64 Apache and unmanned aircraft systems. The announcement drew both criticism and praise from various blogs and media sources. Most of this commentary centered on questions of the ability of the Apache helicopter and UAS to fulfill the aerial scout role,
and whether or not the Kiowa Warrior is truly obsolete. It is arguable however that the decision was driven as much by fiscal austerity as battlefield requirements. » More

Is the DoD Innovating? How the New Budget Stacks Up

Image: Flickr.

Editors note: This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 17 March 2014.

As the Pentagon faces inevitable budget cuts, “innovation” and “adaptation” are the buzzwords of the day, but are they reality? The recent Department of Defense (DoD) Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) identifies innovation as a core theme, and Department leaders have gone to great lengths to stress that they have chosen to protect key investments for the future, even in lean times. The capability areas that DoD says it is protecting—cyber operations, special operations forces, and development of a new long-range bomber—indeed make sense strategically and will be extremely useful in future operating environments. DoD has also stressed that it is maintaining research and development funding in order to retain the U.S. military’s technological edge.

These overarching principles are almost certainly the right ones, but resources need to back them up. As the saying goes: “if it ain’t in the [budget], it ain’t.” In some areas, DoD is putting its money where its mouth is. » More

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