“Full speed,” was the message from Raj Shah, Managing Partner of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, when he spoke to reporters on April 20.
Without providing specific information, Shah said that some of the 25 projects currently on contract with the Unit will begin to transition from prototypes to use in the field within the next two months.
This represents not only an important milestone for such projects as an anti-drone system developed by a company called Sensofusion for the U.S. Marine Corps, but also for the Unit itself. Created and championed by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, DIUx was completely overhauled in 2016 after a less-than optimal start.
It is no secret that in recent decades a rift has emerged between the technology community and the Pentagon. Carter’s goal in creation of the Unit was to “rebuild bridges,” but the original organization of the team provided obstacles and barriers to non-traditional Department of Defense partners. As part of the organization’s retooling the Unit was provided direct access to the Secretary of Defense, something that will continue under Secretary James Mattis, and more authority to manage its projects outside the normal defense acquisition process.
While the future of this atypical outfit in the Department of Defense may be unclear in the Trump administration, the transition of these projects represents a significant achievement, and perhaps a vision of future partnerships.
This article was compiled from pieces that originally appeared in “Defense News,” “Federal News Radio” and “FCW.”
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