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Remarks by Secretary Carter in a Media Availability at a DIUx event in Boston, Massachusetts

July 26, 2016
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter; Rajiv Shah, Managing Director, DIUx

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER:  Well, once again, gang, thank you very much for being here.  I'll be brief because I spoke already simply to signify the importance of this day and this location.

DIUx is one of the ways that we're trying to ensure that our department, the Department of Defense that protects our people and gives our children a better future, remains competitive, innovative and the best, as it is today, in the years of the future.

DIUx is one way they we're doing that.  And we selected Boston as a location for DIUx because of its powerful, and longstanding and deep tradition of collaboration between cutting edge industry, innovative people, education and the public mission of -- including defending the country.

This is a -- a hub, important to many technologies.  I'll just signify one where I think Boston is especially important, and will be important to us, and that is in the union of biology, and engineering and data, which is going to be an area of great innovation, but also of great consequence for human kind and for human security.

We want to make sure we're at the frontier of that, as we have been in aerospace, and I.T. and other fields.

So -- and that's one of the reasons why Boston is so important.

I want to thank Bernadette Johnson -- Dr. Bernadette Johnson, Air Force Colonel Mike McGinley, who are taking on their new roles here at DIUx, our East Coast office.  I have every confidence in them and in the leader of DIUx Raj Shah, and the entire team.

Second thing I announced today were some additional members of our Defense Innovation Board.  And just to remind you, that is to provide me and secretaries of defense long in the future with innovative ideas from the private sector, whether they be organizational, or technological or operational, or in terms of how people are managed and talent is managed that might be applicable to the Department of Defense.

Not everything that's done in the private sector can we use, because we're always going to be different in some respects.  But we want to know what's best out there, what's most innovative, what's most cutting-edge and what's most competitive, and borrow those techniques and those technologies where we can.

And that's why I'm asking some of the most innovative people and public-spirited people in America to be on the Defense Innovation Board, and they've agreed to do that.

Eric Schmidt is the chair, but we've got an absolutely superb membership.  I announced some additional members today and there will be yet more members in the future.

But the board is starting its work, and I look forward to benefiting from its -- its thinking, and I'm sure we will.

With that, let me stop, and then Peter, I'll take whatever questions you would like.

STAFF:  (Inaudible) -- Sidney.

SEC. CARTER:  Hi, Sidney.

Q:  Hello, sir.  (inaudible)Defense.

To -- how long -- the ones, the example we got in the speech --

(CROSSTALK)

SEC. CARTER:  Halo.

Q:  That was the first thing that Mr. Shah and company contracted for.

I'd love to know about, you know, A, what -- (inaudible) -- is, besides kind of creepy?

B, the -- you know, what the dangers are, because you mentioned this is a very consequential area, this biotechnology.

And three, what -- you know, why that had to be a uniquely DIUx product?  Why that wasn't completely -- (inaudible) system was going to move forward?

SEC. CARTER:  Okay.  I'll let Raj talk about the specifics of that.  I'll just comment on two.

You had many aspects to your excellent question, there.  But in terms of the bio sciences, is there -- the bio sciences, like all technologies in the past will -- will be used for good and for ill.

Our job is to make sure that our -- that our society is protected and that our military is at the frontier of that field.

With respect to the -- those specific projects -- Raj, why don't you go ahead and talk about Halo a little bit more?  And also any other examples you want to use.

MR. RAJ SHAH:  Yes, sir.  Thank you.

So -- so, the one that you highlighted is Halo Neuroscience.  It's an early stage company that is used by many leading athletes, Olympic athletes.

And so, what we've done here at the department is to engage with them to see and test whether or not that technology is applicable to enhancing our combat capability and to see if we need a further engagement.

Another example of a company that actually has Boston roots.  Their founders are here in the audience.  They're MIT grads.  It's a company called Shield AI, which is building a autonomous drone that will navigate inside a room and provide mapping capability.

So to your final point of why DIUx, it is our ability to work with them at the speed that they are used to and comfortable with and to encourage them to be suppliers to the Defense Department.

SEC. CARTER:  I can say more than that.  Remember, DIUx is supposed to be a path finder, here.  So ultimately, we hope everybody is -- all the part of the department are able to be, in some measure, as agile and as wide-ranging in their ability to see what's going on in the world of technology and adopt it to our purposes.

Q:  (inaudible) -- my question's actually for both of you.

You've mentioned some of the successes you've had so far.  What are the challenges that you're still trying to overcome, you know -- (inaudible) -- dealing with these new sort of -- (inaudible)?

SEC. CARTER:  Well, I think that we're overcoming these obstacles, but they -- they're definitely out there.  One is that a lot of the technology community isn't used to working with us.  We're not on their radar screen.  That wasn't the case 50 years ago, and now it is.  They have other customers, other horizons and we want to be on their radar screen.  So we want to make them aware of what we're doing.

Secondly, we're not always the easiest customer to work with.  One of the things that Raj is doing is trying to make DIUx a part of the Department of Defense that's easy to access.  It's easy to get information if you are qualified and -- and win competitively to get funding and to find partners and larger customers in the future.  So much more user-friendly.

So those are the two respects I would say in which DIUx is helping as a department as a whole to become better, faster and more connected are the two things.

Raj?

MR. SHAH:  I mean, I'd just underscore what the secretary has said, is that we are just in our first stages of reaching out to industry.  We're able to demonstrate to them that we could be a reliable and strong partner and we're overcoming the -- the previous challenges or misconceptions that they may have about working with us.

Q:  (inaudible) -- sir.

How -- how scaled is this model -- (inaudible) -- larger issue of acquisition reform?  Once you sort of iterated -- (inaudible) -- got the projects -- (inaudible).

SEC. CARTER:  It is in the following sense.  Obviously, this is focused on new technology, which by its nature, in order to be cutting edge has to be adopted quickly.  But you're asking is it relevant to the larger issue of defense acquisition.  It is in two respects.

First of all, speed is critical in acquisition as well.  If it takes you 15 years to do something, 15 years to complete a program, by definition, that program's going to be 15 years old in technology terms by the time you complete it.  So if you can shorten that and make our programs of record shorter than they'll -- they're -- generally, that saves money, but it also means newer equipment.

Second thing is agility in it's responsiveness to the war fighter.  I had a lot of that experience in the course of Iraq and Afghanistan, where you had a system that was used to buying things on a Cold War time table of years and years.  We needed to buy things on a time scale of months in order to save lives and win wars.

And that kind of agility, the ability to do some of what we do very quickly and very responsibly to an emerging need like IEDs were used first in Iraq then in Afghanistan.  In those two respects, I think that some of the speed, and agility, and responsiveness is what the DIUx represents within its own area of technology.  I hope also, that it will be adopted elsewhere.  We need that because we need to stay competitive.

Q:  Has the White House reacted to the federal government's response to increase the need for cybersecurity with breeches that have occurred?  Does the department place a heightened need for those policies?

SEC. CARTER:  Well, one of the missions that we have -- the Department of Defense that I'm looking to DIUx to help us, is our most important cyber mission, in defending our networks.

Remember, all of our -- all of our ships, planes, tanks -- wonderful people can't do what they do best unless their connected. So defending our own networks is critical.  And there are -- there are other nation-states, potential and actual enemies right down to criminals and hackers who would like to get in a disrupt DOD's networks.  Protecting them is critical.

That is why we did the "hack the Pentagon" bounty to get a whole set of friendly eyes on our attack surface and see where we had vulnerabilities, and they reported them -- as many vulnerabilities we weren't aware of.  That's very valuable to us.  That's just one of the ways in which we protect ourselves.

Now we also offer our technology and our techniques to other parts of the government that have the mission of defending particular infrastructure in the homeland.  Now that's Homeland Security, that's the law enforcement community, the intelligence community and so forth -- we are in a supporting role, but we support them.

For ourselves, for the mission of defense, defending our networks is critical because there is no point in having all this wonderful military equipment if it can't be networked in today's world.

MR. SHAH:  We have time for one or two more.

Q:  Can we -- (inaudible)?  Can you talk to anything specifically -- (inaudible)?

SEC. CARTER:  Well, generally, Congress has been very supportive of this because I would think most of the members who know defense, know that being innovative and being competitive is critical to our accomplishing our mission, that we -- that the two branches work together on, which is making sure our military remains the best.

We need them to be supportive of our funding initiatives.  We need them to be supportive of the authority that we need to do things in a different way.  And by in large, they are, but remember there are a lot of committees and so forth.  So I want to compliment those who understand and are supportive of what we're doing, who is most of them.  But there are other ones I'm urging to make sure they support this.

This is critical.  It's as critical as everything else we do in defense, because even as it's important to fight today's fights and win them -- which we are doing and will do -- we also have to look ahead to the future.  And I need their help in that regard, even as I need their help in providing me the funding for the war in -- against ISIL.

STAFF:  Zach, you get the last one.

Q:  Zach (inaudible).

I wanted to ask you about the -- (inaudible) -- recommendation, something that you have talked about today, and then answered at the offset.  Two jobs ago at the Pentagon -- (inaudible) -- at that time, didn't do -- (inaudible).

(Laughter.)

Obviously, that has changed.  What is it about this (inaudible) change that you're -- (inaudible)?  And how are you approaching it and be successful?

SEC. CARTER:  Well, the habits of mine and the institutional practices, and the way things are done have been, in the Department of Defense, they were basically perfected over the period of the Cold War, where technology marked -- marched inexorably, but in a kind of lumbering, slow fashion forward, the principle competitor being the Soviet Union.

We got very good at innovating that way and at producing goods and services, and doing R&D on that time scale.  That's out of pace, both with today's way of doing -- of innovating in the world as a whole, and also at variance with the pace at which some of our -- our enemies and competitors are working.

So, we know that, for example, some of the nation states against which we need to stand strong -- Russia, China, Iran and so forth -- are themselves aim to be very innovative.

And we know that even terrorist groups like ISIL are quite innovative, particularly when it comes to social media and online things.  And we know that the world of technology represented by the ecosystem here in Boston is one that it moves fast, that values agility, that values new ideas, that values freedom.

So, in all of those respects, the system that we had in the past isn't well suited to the future.  And DIUx is one of the many ways we're trying to my the transition, so that we continue to have a defense system that is closely connected to the most innovative part of our society -- as it has been for 70 years.  And that's what made us the best.

But we have to adapt as the world around us adapts.  And that's the way in which we need to continue to change.

Q:  (off-mic)

SEC. CARTER:  Yeah, well, I -- it changed in every respect.  And it -- it's -- it's -- in the case of DIUx, in addition to the substantive results I expect to get from DIUx, I think it stands for the necessity to make that kind of change in mindset.  It's very important.

STAFF:  Thank you, sir.  Thank you, Raj.

SEC. CARTER:  That's it?  Okay.

STAFF:  Yeah.

SEC. CARTER:  All right, Peter.  Thank you all once again for being here.  I appreciate it.