U.S. Navy Under Secretary Erik Raven said at the MerITocracy American Innovation Forum on July 21 that the Navy must continue to leverage innovation in order to stay one step ahead of adversaries around the globe.

Raven explained that in the face of rising competition from China, the U.S. military advantage relies on the 2022 National Defense Strategy to achieve real results. And he explained that the new strategic direction has already resulted in “monumental improvements” in terms of innovation.

“Our ships, aircraft, and submarines continue to be the most capable in the world, but [with] the growing threat environment that we are now in, we have to alter how we operate,” Raven said.

“Through operational concepts like distributed maritime operations, and cross-cutting efforts like Project Overmatch, we are linking together our traditional capital platforms and aircrafts with cyber, space, electronic warfare, and permission capabilities,” he continued. “These innovations will sustain and build our edge against any adversary, increase our resilience, and enable us to operate and strike in any environment.”

As an example, Raven said that today’s Marines can “sense and kill at 10 times more range” than they were able to a few years ago and can employ cyber across the sector – all thanks to new innovative technologies.

“To achieve success in our efforts, we must continue expanding our universe of business partnerships and increase competition to ensure we’re drawing the best ideas to stay on the cutting edge,” Raven said. “We must make room for innovative and agile small businesses that may not have worked with the department before. We must streamline and improve policies that are already in place to break down bureaucratic barriers and protect our technology.”

He added that the Navy needs to reform its thinking to emphasize that it’s okay to make mistakes – because those serve as a learning opportunity.

Above all, Raven said the Navy must maintain focus on its top mission, which is that sailors and Marines “have the right tools to fight and win all the time.”

“These challenges are not unique to our military – we see them across every sector of the nation,” he said. “It is only through a whole-of-government approach and a whole-of-nation approach that we will succeed. The technology community is at the forefront of our unified efforts to deter and defend what we hold most important. It is the engine.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.