INDOPACOM stands up new directorate to better connect industry, DoD innovation efforts

INDOPACOM stands up new directorate to better connect industry, DoD innovation efforts
INDOPACOM Commander Adm. John Acquilino (Credit: NDIA/EPNAC)

INDOPACOM Commander Adm. John Acquilino (NDIA/EPNAC)

WASHINGTON — The head of US Indo-Pacific Command hopes a new “Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate” under his command will help make it easier to connect industry to the military’s key innovation programs and efforts, he said today. 

The new organization has been charged with pulling “together my key programs of joint fires network, mission partner environment, fintech and StormBreaker, [and] link it with the support from DoD,” Adm. John Aquilino said today at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies for Defense conference. 

Aquilino added that the new directorate “is about outcomes, not about inputs” and involves teams from the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, the Pentagon’s chief digital and artificial intelligence office, chief information officer and acquisition and sustainment. 

So we think we can actually help make it easier for you to be able to get after the key programs that the warfighter needs,” he added. 

Though not offering up many details about the new directorate, Aquilino said that Doug Beck, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, will play a role by putting “the deputy director in that organization in my headquarters to be able to plug in innovation” in an effort to better connect the Pentagon and industry players toINDOPACOM’s critical mission needs. 

“I probably spent more time with Doug for the past couple of months to be able to really get to an understanding of how should we structure ourselves, where his team can plug in and he has sent more than one person to Hawaii to help facilitate and drive this,” Aquilino said.

A spokesperson from DIU told Breaking Defense that the office will be “providing an embed to INDOPACOM who will be both the Deputy as well as the Chief Technology Officer of the Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate.”

The move follows an organization reshuffle in DIU where the agency is once again directly reporting up to the Secretary of Defense, a return to its original structure after several years reporting to the under secretary of defense for research and engineering. Earlier today, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said DIU would play a role in supporting another newly-launched initiative called Replicator that aims to crank out “multiple thousands” of “attritable autonomous systems” across “multiple domains” within two years.

In a separate effort, Aquilino said his team intends to deliver a prototype of a joint fires network that will contribute “directly” and inform to the Pentagon’s Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control effort to connect sensors to shooters through all domains.

“Our intent is to pull in all data….we’re in a data-driven world and whether it be commercial based, whether it be military based, whether it be open source, and we’re going through and utilizing the work being done by DARPA, and now, [Heidi] Shyu and [William] LaPlante in the form of Assault Breaker II to pull in all that data, apply artificial intelligence where it makes sense, synchronize it through a battle management set of applications and to be able to speed up those decisions, understanding and ultimately, wisdom on the battle space,” Aquilino said.