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A key concern for Pentagon acquisition nominee – technology race against China

A key concern for Pentagon acquisition nominee - technology race against China

Michael Brown is President Biden’s pick for the Defense Department’s top procurement job, an announcement at the White House on 2nd April 2021. Michael is a veteran tech industry executive who leads Pentagon’s commercial outreach office since 2018.

The purpose behind Michael’s nomination includes serving as undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. Michael is the director of the Defense Innovation Unit, based in Silicon Valley. The origin of the Obama administration officials in 2015 is to build ties with start-ups and venture investors. The tie-ups are conducted in order to help transition technologies from the private sector to military programs.

Michael’s key concern is the technological competition with China while he is in DIU. In 2018 he co-authored a research paper that relates to Chinese venture investments. It provides China’s access to the “crown jewels of U.S. innovation.”

The paper also mentions that China ventures with early-stage technology companies which help them grow. The paper states, “The technologies where China is investing are the same ones where U.S. firms are investing and that will be foundational to future innovation: artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, augmented-virtual reality, robotics and blockchain technology.”

With the guidance of Michael Brown, DIU became an early supporter of emerging space launch companies, namely –

  • Rocket Lab
  • Virgin Orbit
  • Relativity Space

The above-mentioned companies are selected under DIU in order to launch experimental DoD payloads. DIU also invests in the space surveillance start-up LeoLabs so that satellites are tracked even in low Earth orbit with a network of phased-array radars. For the acquisitions and sustainment, Brown has request over USD2 240 billion for the annual budget for military products and services.

Before joining hands with the US government, Brown has been the CEO of two public Silicon Valley technology firms, Symantec, and Quantum. Brown advocates the Pentagon to adapt to commercial innovations at the earliest.

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