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DoD’s Innovation Initiative Remains Top Priority, Mattis Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters yesterday that maintaining the Defense Department’s innovation initiative for the warfighter is a top priority for him, just as it was for his predecessor.

En route to Seattle on a two-day trip to Washington and California -- where the secretary will stop in Silicon Valley to visit the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx -- Mattis emphasized that he deals with a military that's engaged in existing, active operations.

Critical to Readiness

“It's an equal obligation for me not just to maintain the current readiness, but to make certain that the secretary of defense after next has the same advantages … the same competitive edge that I enjoyed growing up in this country,” he told reporters traveling with him.

“So, I rate [DoD’s innovation initiative] as a top-level priority,” Mattis said.

DIUx is DoD’s effort to seek commercial innovation to solve mission-critical problems facing the military services, combatant commands and other DoD components, according to a DIUx release.

Since June 2016, DIUx has awarded $100 million in contracts for 45 pilot projects in such key areas as autonomy, artificial intelligence, human systems, information technology and space. DIU-x usually awards pilot contracts within 60 to 90 days of receiving responses to specific DoD problems, the release said.

Congressional Backing

The secretary said he was impressed when Congress called for DoD to reorganize to support innovation initiatives for the warfighter.

“[What] struck me was how well [Congress] had defined the problem of trying to keep our troops in the field with everything they needed -- acquisition, technology [and] logistics,” he said.

“Meanwhile, we expect that same organization to be looking 20 years down the road,” Mattis said. “And they had defined the problem so well that, when I came in, after reviewing it critically, I embraced it 100 percent.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

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