The newly formed House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems (CITI) held its first hearing today, in which members called for the Department of Defense (DoD) to accelerate technology innovation and adoption if the United States wants to remain a global leader in the “competition to innovate.”

“We cannot afford to lose our quantitative or qualitative edge over our near-peer adversaries, especially China, because of bureaucratic inertia and red tape,” said Ranking Member Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. “Make no mistake, we are in a competition to innovate, and the side that innovates most effectively and efficiently will hold the strategic advantage the United States has held since the end of World War II.”

Rep. Stefanik said the Federal government often holds onto legacy programs for far too long, until they are no longer valuable and “consume resources for new technologies that will help protect the United States from future threats instead of those from the past.”

Chairman Jim Langevin, D-R.I., agreed that holding the top spot in global technology innovation “requires an ambitious strategy of national investment and aggressive development in science and technology (S&T).”

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“If the U.S. is to remain a global leader in technology, we cannot simply rest on our laurels; we must actively execute a comprehensive S&T strategy to advance innovation,” Rep. Langevin said. “We must invest in STEM education, university research, and programs that develop junior talent into future tech leaders. We must also actively endeavor to diversify our S&T workforce.”

However, Honorable Christine Fox, the former acting deputy secretary of defense and current assistant director for policy and analysis at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, stressed the main challenge DoD faces is “not a lack of innovation,” but instead “how to adopt all this new innovation more rapidly into DoD programs.”

“In my view, the principal challenge to adoption is less about supply and more about priorities,” Fox said. “Some argue that DoD must shed much of the existing military force structure to leap ahead. While some divestiture of outdated systems would be desirable, the reality is that there is a near insatiable demand for ready U.S. forces to defend vital American interests.”

“The technology explosion is here. And even if the United States may find it hard to adopt new capabilities, our potential adversaries are not standing still,” Fox added. “We need to evolve our military force more rapidly, and purposely than we do today. Innovation is not the limiting factor, only our vision and wisdom in determining where, and how to use it.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.