WASHINGTON — A Defense Innovation Unit embed will serve as the Chief Technology Officer for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s new Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate, helping the organization connect with the commercial sector.
Adm. John Aquilino, commander of INDOPACOM, announced the creation of the directorate at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies for Defense conference in Washington. The office will work to ensure the command’s top priority programs have a network of support within the Defense Department and industry.
As the Pentagon’s liaison to commercial companies, the DIU official embedded in the directorate will play a key role in making sure the connection between technological needs and industry solutions is strong, DIU Director Doug Beck told reporters Aug. 29 on the sidelines of the conference.
“The person will be somebody who is that dual-fluency talent, who combines deep expertise in relevant technical areas from the commercial sector as well as doing it live at DIU in a leadership role for a while, working with concrete commercial solutions to DoD problems,” Beck said.
The leader, who will serve as the Joint Mission Accelerator Directorate’s deputy director as well as the CTO, will be joined by a team of DIU staff working throughout INDOCPACOM, he added.
Through its Defense Engagement Team, DIU has officials embedded in other combatant commands and units throughout the military services, including U.S. European Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. Beck said the arrangement with INDOPACOM is part of an effort to “dramatically” build the commercial innovation organization’s presence within existing offices.
“This is about taking that capability and going to a whole other level,” he said. “This is an embed role that’s about being part of the team to help solve a problem . . . help identify where the places are that commercial technology can make a difference.”
In a separate speech at the conference, Beck said the expansion of DIU’s partnerships within the Defense Department is part of a deliberate shift toward fielding military-relevant commercial technologies at a larger scale.
That means “being disruptors of the team to disruptors on the team,” he said. While DIU will maintain its focus on finding commercial capabilities and “serving them up,” Beck hopes that building deeper relationships within the department will help the organization “understand the demand signal and then make sure that we can help find the solutions to those problem.”
“There was a time when disruptors of the team was what was needed,” Beck said. “Now, what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to be disruptors on the team. And that’s about disruption at scale.”
DIU has crafted a plan for this expanded role, which Beck said is awaiting review and approval from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
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.