WASHINGTON — The Pentagon named Apple Inc. Vice President Doug Beck to lead its innovation hub, the Defense Innovation Unit, elevating the role to report directly to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“As DIU Director, Mr. Beck will oversee efforts to accelerate the Department’s adoption of commercial technology throughout the military and also serve as a senior advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on technology innovation, competition, and strategic impact,” the Pentagon said in an April 4 statement.

Beck, who is Apple’s vice president of worldwide education, health and government, joined the company in 2009 and leads its businesses in Northeast Asia and the Americas. He served in the Navy for nearly 26 years and led a joint reserve unit in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Beck also oversaw a DIU joint reserve component from 2015 to 2019.

In a memo accompanying the announcement of Beck’s appointment, Austin revealed the DIU director will no longer report to the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering but will instead answer directly to him.

“The DIU director shall serve as a leader inside the Department to catalyze engagement with and investment into private sector communities where commercial technology can be adapted and applied to meet our warfighters’ requirements,” Austin said.

The memo notes that the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering will “use all available resources to support DIU’s mission,” including providing human resources and administrative support.

DIU has been without a director since last September, when former leader Mike Brown stepped down. At the time, he cited frustration with a lack of support for the organization from Defense Department leadership.

According to the memo, Austin wants Beck to provide him with an assessment of DIU’s ability to meet its objectives within 90 days and an action plan for filling any gaps identified in that review.

“DIU’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of commercial technology at speed and scale, and these changes will further enable it to effectively execute this critical mission,” Austin said.

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.

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