Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced an ambitious effort to make targeted, long-term investments in cutting-edge technology so that the US military maintains its edge in the coming decades in the face of increasingly destabilizing threats and mounting fiscal pressures. The Defense Innovation Initiative will develop into “a game-changing” strategy that “will shape our programs, plans, and budgets,” said Hagel in his keynote speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif., on Nov. 15. “As the initiative matures over time, I expect its impact on DOD’s budget to scale up in tandem,” he said. He equated its potential to the strategy the Pentagon introduced in the 1950s to offset the Soviet Union’s conventional superiority through the buildup of the nuclear deterrent and the one in the 1970s that led to innovations like extended-range precision-guided munitions and stealth aircraft. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work will guide the development of the initiative and lead a new DOD-wide Advanced Capability and Deterrent Panel to drive it forward, said Hagel. He cited robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, “big data,” and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing, as areas of special interest. (Hagel speech transcript) (Hagel’s memorandum)
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