Pentagon Sets Sights On Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is the new hottest place on the planet for the cutting-edge in technology, and now the Pentagon wants its piece. According to an article at Ars Technica, the recently-confirmed U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has announced the creation of a new military unit to be stationed in Silicon Valley: Defense Innovation Unit X.

Defense Innovation Unit X is intended to be “a local interface node” between Silicon Valley and the Department of Defense and aims to foster connections between the military and Silicon Valley, and leverage breakthrough technology for the DoD, and will be composed of both active-duty and civilian personnel.

“This first-of-its-kind unit will be staffed by an elite team of active-duty and civilian personnel, plus key people from the Reserves, where some of our best technical talent resides. They will strengthen existing relationships and build new ones [and] help scout for breakthrough and emerging technologies.”

This all comes as part of the DoD’s new strategy to defend America against cyberwar attacks, which is no great surprise in light of repeated recent successful cyber attacks on the White House, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.

The DoD has a long history of involvement with online threats; the internet began its life as a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that officially came online in 1969. At the time, government and military were without peer in developing the most advanced technology in the world. In the ensuing near-half-century, that mantle has been passed to the private sector, embodied in Silicon Valley, and the Secretary of Defense intends to reach out to them.

As per The Verge, the new unit was announced at a speech at Stanford University on April 23, closing out a two-day tour of Silicon Valley for Carter and his entourage – the first time a DoD chief has visited Silicon Valley in over 20 years and a move that critics say is long-overdue, a point Carter addressed pointedly in his speech. “Start-ups are the leading edge of commercial innovation, and right now DoD doesn’t have many effective ways to harness the promising technology they come up with.”

He also noted that most of the technology in modern consumer electronics originated within DoD research, at government expense, in what came off as an impassioned plea to Silicon Valley to give back to the DoD and help them fight back against modern-day espionage and cyberterrorism.

Carter went on to meet with major Silicon Valley executives before returning home the next day, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.

[Image courtesy the U.S. Department of Defense]