Like in business, those who succeed in warfare are able to out-innovate their competitors. As Mark Mills notes,
"Technology development and innovation is a weird thing. People study it, write about it, profess to understand it, invest in it and lust after it. Well, lust may be a bit strong. But the sheer volume and diversity of literature on the subject argues that no one really knows how it happens except at the very high levels of hand-waving abstraction."Today’s technological and social changes continue to impact war at a more rapid rate than ever. Moreover, the oft-repeated adage that “when you’re out of money, it’s time to think,” is true; the Navy has definitely reached that point. Accordingly, this week the Naval Warfare Development Command held a Maritime Innovation Symposium discussing various aspects of innovation in warfare with topics ranging from technology, modeling, and simulation to leadership, personnel, and acquisition practices. In addition to several thought-provoking presenters, a lively and interesting concurrent online discussion carried on among 100+ virtual participants, to include a number of flag officers up to 4 star rank. BZ to NWDC for opening this conference up to people online who otherwise who wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in person.
NWDC is capturing the outcomes of the effort and will brief it up the chain. But to open the aperture of discussions a bit, I’ll proffer some questions the Symposium's speakers and participants explored to ID’s readers plus a few of my own:
- How do we create a culture of innovation?
- How can the Navy innovate without spending a lot of money?
- What does the next “Revolution in Military Affairs” look like? Cyber? Artificial Intelligence/Robotics? Distributed C2?
- What is the appropriate level, method, and place to conduct war-gaming and modeling? War Colleges and NWDC? Synthetically/virtually? Or all over the fleet to the lowest level? How do we share the results of all of this experimentation and implement innovations discovered by war-gaming and modeling?
- How does the Navy protect today’s entrepreneurs, mavericks, and subversives – of all ranks – who will be most likely to innovate in warfare? Does the Navy recognize and reward innovators or marginalize them? Would someone like GEN Mattis still be around following these remarks had he been an Admiral, not a General?
- Does jointness help or hamper innovation?
What do y'all think?
The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.