House Armed Services Committee’s Future of Defense Task Force Holds Hearing on “Supercharging the Innovation Base”
Feb 10, 2020
Last week, the House Armed Services Committee’s Future of Defense Task Force held a hearing on “Supercharging the Innovation Base.” The Future of Defense Task Force was chartered by the Committee in 2019 to review U.S. defense assets and capabilities and assess the state of the national security innovation base to meet emerging threats, and unlike traditional subcommittees, the Task Force is fully bipartisan with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. The Task Force is co-chaired by Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN), both of whom delivered opening remarks at the hearing. Their remarks focused primarily on the ever-growing need for America to be able better to compete in emerging fields of technology such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology.
Congressman Moulton also mentioned in his opening remarks that he and his fellow co-chair just returned from a trip to Asia where they witnessed first-hand the large-scale investments and innovations coming out of China. To be able to better compete globally, Congressman Moulton stated that the Pentagon would need to supercharge its innovation base by enhancing funding for research and development (R&D), fostering relationships with industry and academia, and securing American talent.
Congressman Banks reiterated the importance of investing in the U.S. innovation base and technology infrastructure to shape American technological superiority. He called on the government to partner with industry and leverage commercial research and development to break down barriers that inhibit businesses form working with the Department of Defense.
Hearing witnesses included:
- The Honorable Eric Fanning, President & CEO, Aerospace Industries Association (Former Secrecy of the Army)
- Mr. Raj Shah, Chairman & Co-Founder, Arceo.ai (Forcer head of DIUx)
- Mr. Chris Brose, Chief Strategy Officer, Anduril Industries (Former Staff Director of the Senate Armed Service Committee under Chairman John McCain)
Mr. Fanning commented in his testimony that sometimes it is hard for innovation taking place in industry to find its way into the Department of Defense. He warned the Task that uncertain government budget cycles and threats of government shutdown have detrimental impact on the defense industry. Additionally, he encouraged the Task Force to increase R&D spending government-wide—not just in the Department of Defense.
Mr. Shah spoke of the challenges facing the Department of Defense, specifically in relation to the growing dominance of China in technology advancement. He emphasized the word “supercharging” in the title of the hearing, saying that to better compete, the U.S. needs a step change, not simply incremental improvements. He strongly encourage the Task Force to think about how it can implement change at a significant scale, specifically in the areas of human capital, engagement at scale, and training.
Mr. Brose’s testimony focused new businesses in the national security sector, suggesting that there have been improper incentives that make it difficult for new businesses to make it across the “valley-of-death.” He suggested implementing greater incentives to grow the middle-tier of the defense sector.
To view the full hearing, please visit: https://armedservices.house.gov/2020/2/future-of-defense-task-force-hearing-supercharging-the-innovation-base.