Defense Secretary Ash Carter is creating a chief innovation officer position at the Pentagon as part of his efforts to get the department cutting edge technology more quickly, he announced Friday.
The innovation officer will act as a senior adviser to the secretary of Defense and be a “spearhead for innovation activities,” Carter said during an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Many different organizations have recently embraced this position and also started to regularly run these kinds of innovation tournaments and competitions, including tech companies like IBM, Intel and Google,” Carter added. “And it’s time we did as well, to help incentivize our people to come up with innovative ideas and approaches.”
The innovation position was recommended by the recently created Defense Innovation Advisory Board, which is chaired by the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, and includes heavy-hitters such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Carter did not elaborate on who will fill the position or when it will be filled.
The Pentagon will also move forward on two other recommendations made by the board, Carter announced.
First, the Pentagon will launch targeted recruiting initiatives to increase recruitment of computer scientists and software engineers.
“We’ll do this through targeted recruiting initiatives ranging from our Reserve Officer Training Corps to our civilian Scholarship For Service program,” he said. “It’s intended to help build the next generation of DoD science and technology leaders, all with the goal of making computer science a core competency of the department.”
Second, the Pentagon will invest more in machine learning through challenges and competitions run out of a “virtual center of excellence,” he said.
Carter has made innovation and technology a signature part of his tenure. In addition to setting up the Defense Innovation Board, Carter opened three offices of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental to reach out directly and award contracts to companies in technology hubs such as Silicon Valley.
“Going forward, I’m confident the logic behind everything I’m talking about today will be self-evident to future defense leadership, as will the value of these efforts, but they also need to have the momentum and institutional foundation to keep going under their own steam and to continue to thrive,” he said. “We must ensure that they can keep leading the way and keep disrupting, challenging and inspiring the rest all of us to change for the better.”