Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new department-wide initiative designed to “identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.”
Speaking at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Hagel said in order to “overwhelm challenges to our military superiority” within the current constrained resource environment the U.S “must change the way we innovate, operate, and do business.” The innovation Initiative is based on the lessons learned from previous offset strategies and will “sustain our competitive advantage over the coming decades,” he said.
Hagel has tapped Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work to direct the development of the initiative and to head an Advanced Capability and Deterrent Panel implement and integrate the effort throughout DoD. Work will provide quarterly progress reports to Hagel.
In a memo to Department of Defense and Military Service leaders, Hagel called the initiative a “third offset strategy that puts the competitive advantage “firmly in the hands of American power projection over the coming decades.”
The memo describes three main components of the initiative. A long-range research and development planning program will develop and field “breakthrough technologies and systems” to sustain and advance capabilities. This program will look particularly at robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, and 3-D printing.
Secondly, a reinvigorated wargaming effort will develop “alternative ways of achieving our strategic objectives.” Thirdly, a new operational concepts will utilize resources for more strategic effect and to address emerging threats more innovatively.
The new initiative will also look at DoD business practices “to find more ways to be more efficient and effective through external benchmarking and focused internal reviews.”
In describing the challenges DoD faces as a modern enterprise, Hagel told the Reagan Defense Forum that the department must upgrade its business and IT systems and processes. And, he reinforced the goal to be “fully, completely, audit-ready by no later than 2017.” Hagel said DoD is on track to meet this goal, which “is essential for DoD’s effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability into the future.”