POTUS Trump wants to shut down part of the internet to combat ISIS. At first pass, it sounds like a solid idea and plan that ought to be executable. But I’m sure anyone and everyone might feel as though this won’t be something that’s convenient for anyone’s daily routine. Before such a plan can play out (which will be addressed in another article) – a more solid partnership with Silicon Valley might be necessary.

When then-candidate Trump put forward the idea – it didn’t make a big splash like many of his other statements. However, it did draw some constructive criticism, and the consensus was – no one is sure it’s possible, and if it is, there’d be consequences. But, one robust idea, in theory, is a partnership with Silicon Valley. The large institutional tech firms have their tentacles in everything. These companies are the primary contributors to the state of computer science, today, globally.  The advent and implementation of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) is an attempt at exactly that. DIUx makes investments but, it also an embassy of sorts to Silicon Valley. The Valley, is no doubt, a very different place culturally than the Pentagon or offices within the intelligence community.

To date, we’ve no signs of the new administration making particular note of DIUx or reaching out to big business in the Valley. While the Secretary of Defense and others can reach into the Valley and chat – it might also be impactful if the POTUS helps brand DIUx. It’s probably safe to assume that implanting military minds in the Valley won’t necessarily yield immediate results and collaboration. Most young start-ups and technologists probably do not speak national security and, to be fair, unless you’re working in that space – who would and why?

Recently, POTUS announced that Cyber Command was slated to become a Combatant Command (or CoCOM). That’s important because it means there’s going to be authorities and funding to go along with it. Cyber Command will gain influence and ability to do things. It also means – they’ll require innovation. Requirements and capability gaps will be identified, and cybersecurity innovative technology start-ups might find its first home at DIUx. The cyberspace is wide open and still relatively new to the national defense. Many of our experts in the national security realm are undoubtedly out-of-date compared to young people working in IT, today. The challenge is getting senior leaders up to speed that began their career before there was the internet, in some cases. Helping young companies build their solutions in ways that apply to national security might have a good long-term yield. That’s why DIUx is worth the dice roll and would be served with stronger executive buy-in by way of promotion.


Featured image courtesy of DIUx