Pentagon’s Unit X hopes to partner with Silicon Valley
Can Silicon Valley and the U.S government get along? Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter thinks so.
Carter on Thursday unveiled plans to establish a Pentagon outpost in the region dubbed “Defense Innovation Unit X,” designed to invest in and partner with the region’s technology leaders and startups.
The move comes after the government and the tech industry clashed in opinions over privacy issues, like the whistleblowing actions of Edward Snowden against NSA surveillance.
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“Renewing our partnership is the only way we can do this right,” Carter said in a speech at Stanford University, per TechCrunch. “Now, it won’t always be easy. We’veVolumetric Efficiency had tensions before, and likely will again. We shouldn’t diminish that. Those who work in the tech community are no strangers to intense grappling with ideas. The same is true for those who work with me at the Pentagon.”
Here are a few questions Carter answered about the new venture.
What is Unit X?
The partnership will be based in Silicon Valley and will be a mix of active-duty and civilian personnel looking for ways to use new technologies and startups within the Department of Defense.
With smaller companies innovating in areas like drones, the U.S. government can’t afford to ignore startups in favor of major defense players like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. With Google and Facebook on the cutting edge of Internet expansion, the government needs to make allies in the tech industry, not enemies.
Does Washington “get” Silicon Valley?
Carter is familiar with the tech territory — he did post-doctoral work at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Carter also called attention to previous collaboration between the Defense Department and Silicon Valley, mentioning DARPA and GPS, which began as a defense project.