Alphabet Chairman and Google ex-CEO Eric Schmidt to head a new innovation board at Pentagon

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday appointed Eric Schmidt, Alphabet Chairman and former Google CEO, as the head of a new Pentagon Advisory Board aimed at bringing Silicon Valley innovation and best practices to the U.S. military and make it more tech savvy.

Carter revealed the new Defense Innovation Advisory Board with Schmidt during the annual RSA cyber security conference in San Francisco, saying it would give the Pentagon access to “the brightest technical minds focused on innovation.”

The board will also address problems in the way the Pentagon uses technology, and it will be tasked with providing “quick solutions.” Schmidt’s group will have no access to information about military operations strategy.

Schmidt said the board would help bridge what he called a clear gap between how the U.S. military and the technology industry operate. He will oversee a group of up to 12 other board members, who also have led large private companies and public organizations and excelled at recognizing and adopting new technology concepts.

“If we don’t innovate and be competitive, we’re not going to be the military that the country needs and deserves,” Carter told his RSA conference audience. “We should have done it a while ago.”

Schmidt has a “unique perspective on the latest practices in harnessing and encouraging innovation,” said Carter.

Based on the Defense Business Board, which provides advice on best business practices from the private sector, the new panel is proposed to help the Pentagon become more innovative and adaptive in developing technology and doing business.

The Pentagon said the board would advise it on such Google-y topics as rapid prototyping, iterative product development, business analytics, mobile apps, and the cloud. “The secretary is always looking at ways to … keep the department thinking fresh, bringing in new ideas, bringing in new voices, and he sees this as another opportunity to do that,” said a senior defense official.

Also Wednesday, the Pentagon announced a “Hack the Pentagon” bug bounty program, which will pay hackers who find out vulnerabilities in the Department of Defense’s systems. Bug bounties are a commonly used tool in Silicon Valley to help companies find out vulnerabilities before they are exploited by bad hackers.

The Pentagon said its bug bounty would be done in a “controlled environment,” and the hackers would be examined first.

The Defense Department regularly attempts to recruit hackers to help it fight attackers and battles in cyberspace.

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