19 March 2023

Fostering Innovation in Military Technology

Brodi Kotila, Jeffrey A. Drezner, Elizabeth M. Bartels

Technological superiority is a key part of the U.S. military's advantage over its competitors. During the Cold War, the U.S. government played a key role in sponsoring science and technology research. In recent years, however, technological innovation has been driven by the commercial market, where other nations — particularly China — have narrowed the advantage held by the United States.

Recognizing the need to harness innovation from the private sector, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the military services have created a number of defense innovation organizations (DIOs) to help foster communities of innovators and accelerate the military's identification, development, and adoption of commercial, private sector–developed technology. But have these organizations been able to achieve their stated aims? A RAND National Security Research Division study examined how well DoD is identifying, developing, and transitioning innovative commercial technologies from the private sector to the military and how the defense ecosystem can more effectively support this process.


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