What The Pentagon Has To Do To Recruit Silicon Valley’s Nerds

What The Pentagon Has To Do To Recruit Silicon Valley’s Nerds

Patrick Tucker for Defense One

Newell said the entire department needs to overhaul its approach to with new ideas. “Within the walls of the Pentagon, they will need to reeducate a generation of civil servants to look for ways to say ‘yes’ to trying innovative concepts rather than excuses to say ‘no.’ Most importantly, at all levels, they will need to develop a new lexicon that embraces the pursuit of disruptive innovation rather than treat it as a threat to the efficiency of the system,” he told Defense One.

So true. The Pentagon, for the most part, is an extremely risk averse organization. This point is almost impossible to overstate. And it affects everything the DoD does.

Another great point by Col (Ret.) Peter Newell –

Newell said the Defense Department also needs to foster innovation, experimentation, and research by individual soldiers. “In only rare cases today will you find a military base that offer STEM-based educational programming to its servicemembers,” he said. “If you want to find a 3D printer, the best place to look will be in a barracks room because there isn’t a Maker Space or TechShop on any installation today.” These are DIY havens where people can collaborate and receive tutorials on everything from modifying consumer drones to 3D-printing plumbing parts. “Nowhere will you find a FIRST Robotics competition for military servicemembers, nor will you find ‘hacking problems’ to be the intramural sport that it should be,” he said. “All represent problems that will take a coalition beyond the Pentagon to fix.”

Where are the resources for tech-minded military to start hacking on local problems? For the most part, in the military, they do not exist.

In my experience, the military and tech cultures are far removed from each other. We need to take steps to bring these two cultures together. There are organizations like OperationCode and VetsInTech helping military get started in tech careers. But we have very few if any methods of getting civilian tech working with the military. The new US Digital Service being a stand-out exception.