Teaching Innovation, Development, and Modern War at Stanford, Part 3: Hardware, Software, and the Battleground of Tomorrow – Modern War Institute

Class 5

Today’s topic was the difficulties of protecting America in the future of high-tech warfare. Our visitor speaker was Christian Brose, author of and now the head of technique for Anduril Industries.

War Made New

The required reading for this class was Chris Brose’s book. We thought the trainees would find having the author discuss the thinking behind the book enlightening. It was.

There are couple of individuals as qualified as Chris Brose to suggest on the state of national defense. Before Brose moved into the civilian world at Anduril, he was the staff director of the Senate Armed Providers Committee managing all the programs, policies, and resources of the Department of Defense, along with verifying the department’s senior civilian and military leaders. He was also accountable for leading the production, negotiation, and passage of the 2016 through 2019 National Defense Permission Acts. He previously was the senior policy consultant to Sen. John McCain supporting his work on the Senate Armed Solutions Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And before the Senate he was senior editor of magazine and acted as policy advisor and chief speechwriter to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

This entire class session was a talk by Chris and Q&A with the students. It would be easy to simply install the video and the records here and be finished with it. That would do a genuine injustice to the insights that Chris offered. I’m going to extract and paraphrase a few below, however I advise you to read the records and enjoy the video.

Why Did Chris Write ?

Chris was significantly concerned that the United States was falling back our foes and no one was taking notice of the extent of the issue.

Chris observed that the reality is that we are being disrupted in such a way that a lot of Americans and most members of Congress do not totally comprehend and value. China has specifically and explicitly concentrated on weakening the core presumptions on which the United States has actually been planning to project military power for twenty-five to thirty years. These presumptions were that we would:

These presumptions are no longer true.

The Defense Industry

Because completion of the Cold War our defense market has become significantly concentrated, combined, uncompetitive, and basically hollowed out. We have actually gotten extremely good about constructing a force around really small numbers of really expensive, charming, greatly manned, and difficult to change military systems. We built up a system to produce a particular type of military power at a time when that entire organization model is being interfered with and weakened– much as Smash hit Video’s company model was undermined by Netflix and Apple.

Disruptive Technology

The new innovations and abilities that will be main to military benefit in the future– synthetic intelligence, device learning, autonomous systems, dispersed networking, advanced manufacturing, industrial area, and others– are innovations mainly driven by business innovation and business companies. The future will be controlled by large amounts of little or more affordable, more self-governing, more intelligent military systems. This is likewise true of things that are not military platforms: networking, the movement of information, and the weaponization of information.

The Danger Landscape

We do not know what the world is going to appear like. We don’t understand what our rivals are going to do. We don’t understand what new innovations are going to be established next month or next year or next years. And we eventually don’t know how we’re going to want to arrange ourselves and construct functional concepts to utilize these new innovations.

We need to have more humility around the very best method to experiment and feel our way through the future. And measure for what will inevitably happen: We’re going to get things incorrect. We’re going to fail to anticipate the future. And we’re going to require to wind up in locations we didn’t foresee.

We’ve got to leave the trap of attempting to define the requirements for our inputs. We need to value new, innovative, completely unpredictable, and surprising capabilities, ideas, and organizational development that permit us to resolve these issues differently.

Our system is not designed to do that. Our system is developed to try to anticipate the future in 10, twenty, or thirty years; compose requirements to what we believe it’s going to appear like; and after that throw a great deal of money at industry to provide that future on long timelines. Shockingly, many of those things are unimportant when they show up, if they ever show up at all.

Altering Acquisition

As a buyer of innovation and capability, the Department of Defense now can decide to purchase various capabilities to match this new world. DoD can produce different incentives for different types of markets to work with them and for them. The department can produce rewards for personal capital that’s resting on the sidelines to stream back into the defense sector in a manner that hasn’t occurred for a long time.

The only method we’re truly going to change is by attempting to produce increasingly more pockets in the defense portfolio and programs that are open to real competitors. We have a system that’s tailored around valuing and buying inputs instead of specifying what we want our results to be. We require pockets of marketplace-type behavior where real systems are completed out based on outcome-oriented metrics and we purchase brand-new things more regularly.

DoD and Congress can create rewards to make the most of the willingness and ability of leading innovation developers to fix these issues. Nevertheless, they won’t create a new business ecosystem if they continue to administer small SBIR account grants and million-dollar OTA’s (door prizes for showing up) while the very same 5 national defense contractors they’ve been paying for the previous three years still get the billion-dollar programs. DoD needs to write checks to brand-new suppliers for programs at scale.

Making Modification Happen

The Department of Defense confesses it has an issue which it requires to do things in a different way. Now we come down to the tough concerns of execution and execution, which is where DoD has foundered in the past. The department hasn’t ended up in this position due to a lack of people saying the ideal things, however since it has stopped working to do so numerous of the things they have stated (oftentimes for decades).

From an organizational viewpoint, change won’t come internally. Major sort of organizational reforms tend to come from beyond governmental institutions. It’s going to take an external act, such as the secretary of defense being available in to deal with the Congress, to essentially say we do need to do things differently. It is going to involve more risk and the only people in our system capable of doing it are our senior leaders, whether they’re verified by the Senate or chosen by the American individuals.

Read the entire transcript of Chris Brose’s talk here and see the video listed below. If you can’t see the Chris Brose’s talk click here.

Class 6

Today’s subject was developments in getting innovations for modern-day war.

Our visitor speaker was Hon. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

Some of the readings for this class session included: “Defense Innovation is Falling Short,” Dr. Will Roper’s current AMA about AFWERX and AFVentures, and the “Future of Defense Task Force Report 2020.”

Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

In some of our class sessions you have actually heard about how acquisition in the Department of Defense hasn’t kept up with new threats, adversaries, and brand-new technologies. Will Roper– who is the Air Force’s service executive– offers the lie to that assertion. He gets it. And he’s running as quickly as he can to move the Air Force into the twenty-first century. It was an eye-opening conversation.

Will Roper is responsible for investing $60 billion acquiring 550 programs along with technology and logistics. His resume reads like he trained for the task: With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics and a PhD from Oxford in mathematics, he began his profession at MIT Lincoln Labs, then was chief designer at the Rocket Defense Firm, and was later founding director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Workplace. (The SCO pictures new, often unexpected, and game-changing uses of existing federal government and industrial systems.)

This whole class session was a talk by Will and Q&A with the students. Like the previous class session with Chris Brose, it would be simple to simply publish the video and transcript here and be made with it. However likewise like the previous class, that would do a real disservice to Will’s insights. It’s fascinating to keep in mind the number of his observations echo the ones Chris made in the previous session. I advise you to read the transcript and enjoy the video, however I have actually drawn out and paraphrased a few of his concepts listed below.

Competition with China

The competition with China is among the critical difficulties that we’re going to deal with in this century. It’s not preordained how it’s going to end. It’s a really various obstacle, due to the fact that it’s not just a Cold War part 2. We’re really financially intertwined with this competitor. But we do have to treat it just as if it was an existential race, because we have a very different world view than that competitor does.

Commercial Technology has actually Changed the DoD Design

Industrial technologies are being driven faster than any government can stay up to date with, though lots of federal governments are trying to steer it to their own advantages. And much of the technological developments that might be crucial to the armed force are going to be readily available to everyone. The model that worked so well in the Cold War– where you made a technology development, and since you were annexed from your rival, you could develop that technology, instantiate it in your military, and field it for advantage– truly does not make a lot of sense in this years and in this century. Innovation is what it is. Federal governments play a strong role in it, we can nurture it, we can accelerate it, and we can develop it, however we’re increasingly a smaller sized fraction of what occurs commercially.

I see the Pentagon being in a time of crisis, where it’s actually attempting to determine its role. It’s not the major funder of innovation anymore. It has a large budget plan and it’s a large market, but it’s not the significant chauffeur of development. And I discover the majority of the people working in it have a tough time with that. They have actually remained in the building given that before the Cold War and have really not been outside to see that the times have actually changed. But I love the times that we remain in. Innovation is cheap, it’s common, it’s quick, it’s moving.

The Pentagon’s challenge is to reboot itself, to eliminate those Cold War processes where we’re great at developing innovation that would change the world.

Taking Technology in from the Outdoors

Now, we have to be proficient at adjusting innovation, bringing it in from the outside and instantiating it. We need to be much better at building collaborations. It’s not actually the way we arrange the service. And there are many terrific areas for partnership in between the military and commercial innovators, that we’re losing out on chances. And AFWERX and other organizations that I have actually tried to stand up in the Air Force to create partnerships are a main paradigm for how we move development forward.

The armed force is going to have to treat technology wherever it is as a battlefield in and of itself. Which is not how the Pentagon is established to run.

If we do not engage proactively, I believe what we have seen occur with hobbyist drones a few years back is a harbinger of what could end up being the status quo in future years. Where innovations may emerge in one innovative sector, if we’re not proactive and interesting with them then the supply chain and market will move overseas to another country’s benefit. And this is not the Pentagon’s playbook.

The Presupposition That the Future Can Be Predicted Is No Longer Real

We are great at having a foe that we can forecast well– having great intelligence on them, creating our view of their future, and creating a design of what we believe they will bring to bear on the battleground both technically as well as operationally. We produce our own counter-solution to what we predict.

We build it, ideally get to it first, and once we field it, we hope that countering what we have anticipated leads to a method that leads us to success.

That worked well in the Cold War. There’s no sign that will work well in the circumstance we discover ourselves in today. As I’ve engaged in Air Force and Area Force acquisition it begins with the presupposition that the future can be anticipated. You won’t discover that documented in any acquisition document. It’s in fact fundamental to how the Pentagon works, that the future is predictable. And it’s not.

No Informing Which Technology Is Going to Lead

I have no idea what the future is going to be. I have no idea what 2030 is going to be like. Who understands what technology is going to be the next big thing. You’ll find individuals in significantly various camps. You’ll find one group centering around AI. You’ll discover various individuals who will state, “No, quantum systems are going to allow radically different phenomenology to be brought to bear. Not simply computing and encryption, however picking up.” And they’ll be beside a group that will say “Nope, biological systems are going to allow fundamentally various methods to developing sensing units and computing and picking up.” And you’re not going to need to wait on those beautiful quantum systems since you can hack biology and do it sooner. And the camps go on.

That just informs me this is a fantastic time for technology. It’s everywhere, and it’s not costly to take part in. And there’s no informing which innovation is going to cause that next commercial transformation. I think that actually is the competitors amongst countries, that a number of these technologies could birth a new commercial transformation. And whichever country does it, it’s going to be to such a chosen benefit that the military part of the equation is most likely moot.

The Pentagon Requirements to Be Fast and Agile

The military, due to the fact that it is an extremely supporting and unique part of any country’s market system, has to play a catalyzing role in setting that nation up to discover that industrial transformation quicker. The Pentagon is not matched for this. With the $60 billion per year procurement system that I run for the Air Force and Area Force, the strategy is quite easy. You require to be extremely fast and nimble. The Cold War system wasn’t. And the system in this century should be. Due to the fact that we do not know what the next huge thing is going to be. Let’s be all set to adjust to it. Speeding the system up is not as hard as you believe. It’s simply not what was valued in the past. You just simply have to alter the value system, alter the culture, and the system will speed up.

The harder part is teaching the Air Force and Space Force to operate in the wider environment. It’s extremely simple to fall back into the historical process that forecasts the future, obtains a solution for that future, and then kicks it out to a handful of defense business that we have actually historically gone to in recent times to assist us develop that future. And with many fields of innovation now readily available, we just can’t work with a handful of companies and anticipate to win.

Acquisition and Procurement Need New Rules

Defense research and advancement is only one-fifth of the total R&D that our nation does. At the height of the Cold War we were four-fifths. That does not indicate that we have actually gotten any worse at research and development at the Pentagon, it simply means that the landscape has actually changed. And we haven’t. So teaching our acquisition system, our procurement system, that it requires a various set of rules to work in the four-fifths of our nation’s R&D that’s commercial has been exceptionally challenging. Because everything about the way we operate is hard for industrial innovators. Companies like AFWERX that have an entirely various model and culture and principles– their task is to treat emerging industrial markets as a battleground. And to attempt to bring the military’s mission as a method to accelerate business companies, not simply to assist military objectives, but to accelerate them as an end state in and of itself. Because that remains in our nationwide interest.

Accelerating Technology

I discovered that within the Air Force, we can rally around this as a core objective. That accelerating innovation is something that can be understood by anybody that we have actually trained in the military because it’s easy to comprehend it. If that business, that technology, that market doesn’t happen in the United States first, it’s most likely to occur someplace else. And if it takes place elsewhere, there’s no warranty we’ll have access to it. That’s a 2nd necessary that we have to be able to work in our entire tech community.

DoD is Fantastic in Hardware, Lagging in Software

The summary of what I have actually seen is the Pentagon is really great at keeping technological disciplines that were born in the Cold War. We’re still great at things based upon Maxwell’s equation. We’re proficient at radars and stealth and antennas and radios and materials. However we have not learned to work in the industrial ecosystem.

And we have actually not learned to work in digital and software-driven innovation. If we find out those simply very small handful of lessons, we’ll be closer to being the nimble, disruptive system we need to be. Now we’re completing versus an enemy in China that will likely have double our GDP and quadruple our population, and possibly have fifteen times the STEM graduates that we’ll have by the year 2030. So we’re not going to beat them at scale. Speed and dexterity are the only method that we can make sure that we have an upper hand.

I’m really delighted with the progress the Flying force has made. This is simply lap one of what is going to be a very long race. And this race doesn’t end. There’s no method to forecast what the end-state relationship will be between the United States and China.

We require to hope for the finest but prepare for the worst. For the time being that implies dealing with every brand-new technology or possible new technology as an opportunity to expect however also a hinderance to fear. And I hope that if we inculcate that seriousness within our company, that we will end up being the sort of Air Force that is prepared for whatever we call this competitors with China.

Some people call it a hot peace. I don’t actually care about slang and slogans. I simply understand it’s real. We need to treat it seriously and remain immediate. Up until now, I’ve been very pleased with how all set for the obstacle we’ve been. And I hope that we will not be the only service to vacate as strongly as we have actually done. It’s going to take a whole group to keep this up over time.

Check out the whole transcript of Will Roper’s talk here and see the video listed below.

If you can’t see the video of Will Roper’s talk click here.

Steve Blank is the daddy of contemporary entrepreneurship, an entrepreneur-turned-educator, and founder of the lean start-up motion. He is an adjunct teacher at Stanford and a senior fellow for entrepreneurship at Columbia University.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military College, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

Image credit: 2nd Lt. Emerson Marcus, United States Flying Force