Pentagon stumbles on tech wars

Dual-use technology development is a core element of China’s economic strategy–military funding of basic R&D that also has implications for civilian productivity. That’s what the US used to do. Foreign Policy today explains that the Pentagon’s new tech development strategy threw in cyber war as an afterthought. The Pentagon plan, moreover, has failed to interest the private sector, which doesn’t think it can make money under “Draconian” Pentagon procurement rules. According to FP:

OH YEAH, CYBER TOO Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work and chief weapons buyer Frank Kendall will roll out a larger tech development strategy at the Pentagon at 3 pmthis afternoon, in a massive effort to trim years off the notoriously slow, painful, and monstrously expensive process of selling gear to the government.

The “Better Buying Power 3.0” strategy was unofficially rolled out last fall, but in outlining the needs that the military has in the realm of drones, long-range bombers, electronic warfare, undersea warfare, and satellite technology, they forgot to include anything about cyber (which is an admittedly squishy term). “We worry about the weapons systems themselves and all of the connectivity they might have,” Kendall said recently, a fear which has led to the cyber component being added to today’s plan.

WHAT TO WATCH It will be interesting to see how Work and Kendall respond to the fact that many of the tech and commercial firms they have reached out to have expressed little interest in working with the government, seeing the limited profit margins and draconian acquisition rules as something they don’t want any part of.

CHINESE DOCTRINE Just yesterday, Bob Work introduced what seems to be a relatively new term into the lexicon at a speech at the Army War College. He referenced “what Chinese military theorists call ‘informationized warfare’” to draw linkages between the different levels of war from state-on-state clashes to counterinsurgency.

Work said that modern war — with modern technologies — relies on “achieving information dominance using cyber and [electronic warfare] weapons. These are high-end weapons used by state-backed proxy forces, and we must prepare to fight this type of adversary.” Hence, the modernization plan he’ll outline later today. It’s all coming together, ain’t it?



Categories: Asia Unhedged

Tags: , ,