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Pentagon Taps Eric Schmidt to Lead Innovation Board

The former executive chairman of Google will head a group advising the Defense Department on how to implement new technologies at a faster pace.

The Defense Department named Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Google, as the chairman of the new Defense Innovation Advisory Board. The board is an effort to inject a culture of innovation into the DOD by tapping innovators from the private sector, in Silicon Valley and beyond, according to the Pentagon, and is similar to the Defense Business Board,  which offers the department advice on best business practices from the private sector.

According to the DOD, the innovation board’s mandate is "to provide department leaders independent advice on innovative and adaptive means to address future organizational and cultural challenges, including the use of technology alternatives, streamlined project management processes and approaches — all with the goal of identifying quick solutions to DOD problems." The board will focus on processes that are popular in Silicon Valley, "such as rapid prototyping, iterative product development, complex data analysis in business decision making, the use of mobile and cloud applications, and organizational information sharing." The board will not engage in discussion of military operations or strategy, according to the DOD.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Schmidt will select up to 12 members to sit on the advisory board, and will include "individuals who have successfully led large private and public organizations, and excelled at identifying and adopting new technology concepts." 

According to Reuters, Schmidt, who is now the executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, said that the board would help familiarize the military with the way the technology sector works and would look for how new technologies could be used to solve emerging problems. 

"If we don’t innovate and be competitive, we’re not going to be the military that the country needs and deserves," Carter told reporters, according to Reuters. "We should have done it a while ago."

Mar 03 2016

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