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U.S. Department of Defense

November 22, 2019
By Terri Moon Cronk

Partnering With Private Industry Necessary for U.S., U.K. Defense, Official Says

The future of defense for the United States and the United Kingdom in the face of growing cyber threats and technological change was a key topic of the 2019 Atlantic Future Forum yesterday aboard the U.K. Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, anchored near Annapolis, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay.

Discussions centered on how crucial the competitive edge is against potential adversaries and how emerging technology affects the future of warfare.

The Defense Department's chief information officer, Dana Deasy, was on a defense panel aboard the ship. He emphasized the need for both nations' militaries to encourage collaboration with private industry to help the war fighter.

''If you look back at the history of the Department of Defense, you could say at one point, we were the curators of technology, we were the innovators,'' Deasy said of the United States. ''But over time, what evolved was a very large, robust defense industrial base.''

''We are going to have to lean heavier and heavier on a much broader commercial base,'' Deasy told the forum.

''That means changes for us, inside the Department of Defense. [It changes] the way we go about seeking those relationships, contracting those relationships, onboarding them [and] integrating them into this very large ecosystem that for years has been more dominated by the large industrial players,'' he noted.

Deasy said such changes will require serious thought.

''There is no doubt we are seeing it in the early days, for example in AI, there's going to be a real important need for 'how do we take our large, industrial base and how are we going to integrate it with startups? How are we taking the human factor of the partnership with the computer that's going to change in a significant way?'''

Deasy said he spends a lot of time advising DOD that it will have to attract the best people in the academia and the private sector to employ people.

These outsiders must not see DOD as being too difficult or too large to work with, and he said the department must show it agility and openness to working with them in the future.

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