Is the military ready for an “innovation elevator” — a career path that would allow tech experts to opt out of the traditional personnel process to build and implement groundbreaking ideas for the future force?
It’s the newest proposal put forth by the Defense Innovation Board, a group of high-profile scientists, technicians and businessmen that reports directly to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and is tasked with protecting the military’s tech edge. And whether it’s a step the military should (or is ready to) take, the simple fact that it’s being considered is worth appreciating.
There are no sure answers on how to fend off rising, potentially disruptive tech advances from China and other nations. But there’s one sure way to fail at it: Keep doing everything the same way.
Innovation isn’t limited to the lab. Bureaucracy, even something as entrenched as the military personnel system, must sometimes bend to allow startup-style growth. As one DIB member pointed out, the exceptions and waivers for such programs are in place. All DoD has to do is use them.
It’s a discussion worth having. And as other civilian advisory boards in other parts of government have faded away, this one’s making smart points.